Itizen sees the “Internet of Things” on the horizon and collaborative consumption as a groundswell under its feet.
The company, started last March, makes “Trackit tags” that feature both a numerical ID code and a smart-phone-readable 2D bar code called a “quick response” or “QR” code. Anyone can place a Trackit tag on an object, register the tag at itizen.com, and tell the story of that object. As the object passes to new owners or users, they can read the story and add to it.
The thought that some day “all objects will be connected to the Internet” is one idea that propels Itizen, says cofounder Dori Graff, an alumna of local design and branding firm Little & Company who started Itizen with former colleagues from Catalyst Studios interactive marketing. Another key is the rise in the recycling of goods through peer-to-peer swapping, bartering, selling, lending, renting, sharing, and gifting.
“We’re able to add value to those transactions and make them more social,” Graff says, “so that it goes beyond just a transaction or an object of utility.”
Itizen, funded so far by its founders and one angel investor, anticipates three revenue streams that will flow from “makers and sellers of interesting things”: sales of Trackit tags in bulk quantities and alternative formats such as iron-on fabric; upgrades that entitle small businesses and other sellers of goods to expand their profile pages at itizen.com; and yet-to-be-disclosed opportunities based on Itizen’s technology.
With standard and mobile Web sites launched, Graff says Itizen is submitting its own iPhone app for approval by Apple in late September.
By the Numbers:
23,000 Books swapped on bookmooch.com on April 2, 2010
9.1 million Items gifted yearly through freecycle.org
$36 billion Value of peer-to-peer goods rentals annually in the U.S.
3.5 million “wants” and 5.5 million “haves” Items registered on swap.com
$1.2 billion Value of the U.S. market in gently used children’s clothing
42 million Number of households that gave a handmade gift last year
$10 billion Value of goods and services bartered by businesses in 2008
$500 billion Ebay’s estimate of the market value of secondary-goods exchanges in 2009