Talking tech since 2003

When you lose something of value, what do you do? Some might make a desperate plea to Facebook or Twitter friends. Others might post flyers around their neighborhood. An iOS and Web-based app called Crowdfynd, created by a Chicago-based startup of the same name, wants to become the first place you look when you lose something or find something that belongs to someone else.

Co-founder and CEO Jay Sebben told me a story about walking into a Starbucks several years ago and seeing a flyer put up by a family. The family was looking for information related to a violent crime against one of its members. Sebben soon noticed other flyers, such as lost dogs, lost cell phones and so on.

crowdfynd-screenHe, along with fellow co-founder Pinaki Saha, saw an opportunity for technology to help people in distress. The two got to work building an app with a mobile-first mentality and frictionless social sharing, and worked GPS location tracking into the mix so users could be shown nearby lost and found listings. I asked the two, out of all the potential uses for Crowdfynd, which are users focused on the most? The answer was, overwhelmingly, “lost pets.”

And yes, if you post a lost item or pet, you can attach a reward to it. The app currently has $23,615 in rewards that are attached to lost items.

Those who are familiar with craigslist might be wondering — aside from the focus on mobile, what does Crowdfynd offer that craigslist’s lost and found section doesn’t? Saha’s answer to that was that craigslist is more of a “spray and pray” solution that doesn’t have as strong a mobile interface and doesn’t make use of notifications and search. In Crowdfynd, for example, you can search and show all lost and found laptops a certain distance from your location. With craigslist, listings aren’t categorized as deeply and search doesn’t bring location into the fold.

Crowdfynd is currently in the middle of a seed round and, so far, has raised $150,000. The company hopes to move on to a Series A in the next couple of months. In the meantime, though, the company plans to focus on growth, especially in its business-to-business service. Not only is Crowdfynd positioning itself to become the default “lost and found” source for everyday people, it’s also offering its platform to taxi companies, sports stadiums — really, any business where a lot of people can pass through and lose things.

In terms of updates or improvements coming in the future, I was able to learn that an Android version of Crowdfynd is indeed being developed, but there’s no solid release date yet. Crowdfynd is also planning to launch version 2.0 sometime in July or August. A few features discussed include a Kickstarter-like way to let friends and family contribute to a lost item’s reward, as well as a way to let users generate printable flyers from the Crowdfynd app.

Crowdfynd is a free download from the App Store and can also be accessed at Crowdfynd.com. The company has been focused on promoting the app in Chicago and New York City, but theoretically, it should work in any location. If you try it out, let us know what you think.


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