Pebblebee, a Kirkland-based company specializing in personal tracker technology, announced this week that its new product, the Pebblebee Honey, will be available in more than 1,800 Target stores nation-wide.
The Bluetooth-enabled tracking device is about the size of a silver dollar. Attach it to your personal belongings such as keys, wallets, backpacks, workbags, laptops, and even pets to keep them from getting lost. The Honey is full of feature, – it’s iPhone and Android compatible app will track your lost items up to 150 feet away, which is the farthest distance available on the market. The Honey can be set to buzz or flash an LED light to help find lost items, and an on-device button can be used as a remote camera shutter. The Honey includes an on-board temperature sensor, is water resistant, and has a replaceable battery that lasts up to one year. The device is available for purchase at Target for $19.99 each, or in a three pack for $49.99. A six pack is available at pebblebee.com for $124.95.
The story behind Pebblebee has a similar ring to the Jobs-Wozniak legend about creating Apple in a garage. Co-founders Nick Pearson-Franks and Daniel Daoura began working on prototypes for the device in Pearson-Franks’ basement and garage after hours in 2012. The idea came about when Pearson-Franks’ toddler kept hiding and losing things, and he was distraught over the time and effort he was wasting recovering keys and remote controls.
“Everyone in the world loses things. It’s not about the value of the product, but it’s the time you waste. Or even the data. If you lose your phone, you lose your data. I would pay thousands of dollars to make sure I don’t lose that,” said Daoura, Pebblebee’s CEO.
Once the duo had a working prototype in place, they shared it with family and friends, and feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The pair was encouraged to develop it further, and as they were preparing to launch, Tile made its announcement about coming to the market.
“We were really bummed about that because we thought we had a really original idea. But we figured that Tile would educate the market and we’d continue on our path,” Daoura said. The duo started a Kickstarter campaign to get more funding and help accelerate the launch, hoping to bring in about $20,000. The project ended up netting them nearly $250,000.
At that point, Daoura and Pearson-Franks were doing everything – development, marketing, distribution, design, and even order fulfillment. They also learned that Tile had secured more than $10 million in venture capital funding. Still, the Kickstarter turned into a huge win for the team – they were able to come to market with a finished product before Tile shipped to its first customers.
The duo faced growing pains and challenges immediately after shipping. The device was viable and worked well, however customers found it to be too feature-rich. Pebblebee had to adjust or it would sink like a stone. They reached out again to family and friends, and bootstrapped the company to build a team of developers, marketers, and designers that now numbers at 20 people.
Daoura said it was incredibly challenging to get onto Target’s shelves, but now that the product is there, he expects Pebblebee to make some big moves in the personal tracking market. Pebblebee is preparing to launch a new product in the coming weeks called the Stone, which has even more features than Honey. Check out a video demo here.