THE STORY

What if there was an easy and affordable way to track your lost stuff? Instead of turning the house upside down for your lost keys…

That was Mike Farley’s first thought when his wife lost her mother’s ruby and emerald ring. The idea led him to create a square, plastic Bluetooth tracking device that loops onto key rings and tucks into wallets. He named it Tile. Convinced this was what the world needed, Mike and his co-founder Nick Evans left their full time software jobs.

Next, they turned to crowdfunding, with a goal of raising $20,000. They passed their goal within 8 hours! When the campaign finally ended in July 2013 it had raised over $2.6 million.

Not only that, they also received at least four rounds of funding from twelve investors, coming to a grand total of $15.8 million. Money attracts more money… and mo’ problems.

The speed of their success was so unexpected that they became buried in an avalanche of backorders. Be careful what you wish for. Around 50,000 backers had pre-ordered 180,000 Tile devices! Naturally, logistics couldn’t keep up. Customers posted angry Facebook messages in shouty capitals—“WHERE’S MY ORDER!?”—while others demanded a refund.

It took the team a long, exhausting year to clear up the backlog.

Since then, the company has shipped more than 10 million tiles, made $100 million in 2016 and reunited people—including Alzheimer’s sufferers—with their lost stuff.

Now that’s a comeback.

Nick Evans (left) and Mike Farley.

HAPPY ENDING

Sometimes, it really is hard to gauge how your product will be received. Spending tons of money to beef up production early on, “just in case”, is not necessarily the best thing to do. In a situation like this, adaptability and problem solving might turn out to be your best asset for a happy ending.

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© Story by Tarek Issa.

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