Does it happen to you to lose your keys when you are just about leaving the house, or your phone right when you would need it? The solution is FILO, a small Bluetooth tracker – a tiny TAG – ready to be attached to your valuables. In a fast growing and quite crowded market, FILO stands out for its stylish design outstanding made in Italy quality, for his price (very inexpensive) and for his amazing features. But FILO is unique also for his double side communication with the smartphone and an OTA upgradable firmware.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about what FILO does and what makes it special?
A. FILO is a small bluetooth device that you can easily attach to your valuables to retrieve them in few seconds. We consider FILO as an easy-to-use device which improves the communication between people and their favourite items. FILO acts just like a first word in the wide speech of the IoT. We gave FILO the chance to communicate with our belongings in a bidirectional way: you can make Filo ring by using the App. but you can also make your smartphone ring by pushing FILO’s button.
Q. So, here we are, interviewing a local startup with a brilliant future ahead. How did you come up with the idea of FILO? And how was your team born?
A. The whole team met while attending InnovAction Lab in April, 2014. We got in touch for the very first time on a Rugby field, where we dealt with teambuilding in a fun and exciting way. Our aim (and obsession!) was building an A-Team to start cooking up disrupting ideas. Then we started with the brainstorming phase, hanging post-it on the walls and focusing on solving very common problems of everyday life. Leaving things behind came out to be a real concern: FILO was just born!
Q. When did you get the real feeling of being a startup? Is it linked to a specific moment of your company history?
A. All of us needed some changes in our professional life, but I think we attended InnovAction Lab for curiosity. We have all been throughly fascinated of meeting awesome and very skilled people that we suddenly realise how easy could be, to turn an idea into shape. FILO won the 4th prize at the finals and it turned to be a steady job more than a mere idea.
Q. How did you fund FILO? Did you decide to go with a “self-starter” or to opt for a crowdfunding platform? (If self-starters) What are the advantages you’ve already seen with your self-starter? Have there been any disadvantages to this approach?
A. After InnovAction Lab finals, we have been invited to discuss a funding by LVenture Group, one of the most active investment fund in Italy and Europe, and they decided to fund Filo with a micro-seed of €60K and welcome FILO into Luiss Enlab’s acceleration programme. Before receiving this funding, we were already determined to proceed with a self starter: it looked liked a hard path, but, by the way… how can you convince an investor to seed your startup if you can’t demonstrate that you are the first investor of your own startup?
Q. One of your innovations (or so defined) with your competitors is that many trackers are disposal devices, as soon as their battery cannot be replaced. FILO, on the other hand, works with a common coin battery which can last several months and be replaced in an extremely cheap and easy way. Why did you opt for a different solution?
A. The italian market is so different from the american one, which deals more and more with disposal devices. Italians are more interested in quality and durability and everybody is obsessed by the short-lasting power of smartphone batteries… we just want to feel safe!
Q. How do you differentiate FILO from other products on the market like Tile or Button TrackR?
A. FILO is the only device in the tracking industry that integrates the OTA technology. It means that you can enjoy all the newest features we’ll release without replacing the hardware or buying a new FILO.
FILO has a replaceable battery and a button that can make your smartphone ring.
Last, but non least, FILO is completely Made in Italy!
Q. (If) You raised money from the accelerator … How do you think crowd funding and traditional investment should work together? How has the LVenture Group helped you other than financially?
A. CrowdFunding is not only a way to raise money. It is a process to stay connected with your customers and to travel them into a journey whose aim is to build the right thing for the right customer. It’s also an incredible way to boost your product before launching it. During the acceleration program, LVenture helped us growing our business and our network. For a very early stage startup as we were, it has been a great way to start let metrics speak for us.
Q. From your experience as startupper, what is your idea of the Rome innovation ecosystem?
A. Roman startup ecosystem is growing very fast and it has a very great potential. For us it has been a little bit more difficult, because we are dealing with HW and SW at the same time…
Anyway, we can say this made FILO create by itself… from 0 to 1!
Q. What kind of model do you see, and would you imagine, for our local innovation system here in Rome?
A. We believe that a winning model need to interrelate startups and traditional companies offering a creative enviroment. Events like #MakerFaire are the best way to get the right visibility and turn projects into experiences!
Q. What’s next for FILO? What is the number one feature request you’re getting from your customers?
A. We’ll release comfort zone feature very soon. You will be able to get notified when FILO goes out of range, so that you won’t leave behind anything, anymore; when Filo comes back in range. You will also get notified by the ring of FILO, so that you can have an acoustic signal alerting when you are going to leave something behind.
Q. Shall we see you at Maker Faire Rome 2015?
A. You will find Filo in a special dresscode during Maker Faire! Stay Tuned!
FILO (FInd & LOcate what you care about) is a small tracker ready to be attached to your valuables (keys, bags, luggages…) so as you can always keep an eye on them. It can communicate with your smartphone thanks to the latest Bluetooth Low Energy technology (BLE 4.0). Compatibile with iOS and Android (check your smartphone here: www.filotrack.com/android)
GIORGIO SADOLFO, CEO
LAPO CECCHERELLI, CCO,
ROBERTA ALESSANDRINI, CMO and visual merchandiser
STEFANIA DE ROBERTO, CTO and student of Computer engeneering
ANDREA GATTINI, Marketing and Communication specialist