Like many founders, Parminder Batra launched her startup TraknProtect out of a problem that arose in her personal life. Her kids could not stop losing their stuff.
A missing iPad. A missing math textbook. A missing camera during a family trip that they just would not leave without.
“You kind of wanted to throttle them and rush them out of the house at the same time,” Batra said, recalling that “infuriating” feeling of scouring the house for missing items when you’re in a rush.
So in 2013 Batra began building TraknProtect to help create an inventory of things in your home and allow you to track each item with bluetooth beacons. No more lost iPads or textbooks, and–at lest fewer–family arguments.
But things changed for TraknProtect and Batra when the company was invited in 2014 to the Illinois Corporate-Startup Challenge, a program that connects local startups with larger in-state corporations that could utilize their technology.
TraknProtect was introduced to Hyatt Hotels where Batra anticipated bringing the startup’s tech to Hyatt’s guests, allowing them to keep track of things like passports and personal electronics. But Hyatt had other ideas. The hotel giant wanted to use TraknProtect for its own inventory management by tracking and having data analytics on everything from rollaway beds to microwaves to cribs.
The idea was that Hyatt could respond to guests’ needs faster and house their inventory more efficiently if they knew where everything was at all times. TracknProtect launched a pilot with Hyatt this summer, and like many startups before it, a company that started out as B2C pivoted to B2B.
“Hyatt kind of changed the entire business model for us,” Batra said. “In hotels, there are a lot of companies focusing on consumer traffic. Where are the guests, where are they congregating. But no one’s really addressing the back end of the hotel to help them figure out inventory management.”
Now TraknProtect is working to land deals with Hyatt and other hotels to help the hospitality industry make better decisions about their inventory. Using bluetooth smart beacons, the startup can track and perform analytics on everything in a hotel’s storage space. TraknProtect can identify what items are used most frequently, what is underused, and where the hotel can eliminate inventory to save money.
TraknProtect was able to make even more connections in the hospitality industry after it visited Dubai earlier this month as part of the Google Exchange Travel Summit. TraknProtect and fellow Chicago startup Georama, both based in 1871, were selected from a pool of global applicants to attend the first-ever Google summit. TraknProtect is negotiating several deals with hotels in Dubai as a result of the trip, and Batra noted that TraknProtect’s growth in Dubai could be huge given that travel and tourism is a such a large part of the city’s economy.
TraknProtect is also bringing its technology to car dealerships by allowing companies to track cars and keys to get people in test drives faster. The startup’s analytics will also show which models are tested the most in order to better manage inventory.
Batra said TraknProtect plans to keep its focus on hotels and car dealerships for the time being, but down the road the technology could expand into more industries. And she’s hoping to eventually launch a consumer product one day to accomplish the company’s initial goal of finding things in your house.
“Long term, I do want to go back and help moms,” she said. “Eventually we want to go back to B2C and go back to a TraknProtect home brand.”