Austrian Startup Skarabeos Launches Secure Bag, Powered By Two Triple-A Batteries

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Skarabeos started as a prototype for a US-based corporate is now ready to enter the European market. We spoke to CEO Wolfgang Langeder about the technology that enables the alarm secure bag.

How would you describe Skarabeos in a few words?

Skarabeos is an alarm secured bag and an app to protect your belongings and to be safer when you commute or travel.

What inspired you to create the secure bag? How did it all start?

For business, my colleagues and I regularly have to carry mobile devices and important data with us in our bags, which can be stolen or get lost very easily. And we found out that this is not only a problem for us but another 1.5 billion people worldwide. This is really something many people are concerned about and it made us think about a concept for a wearable security product, which could solve this problem.

In 2012, we were invited by a US American corporate group to develop and pitch a concept for an alarm secured bag. Within one month we built a prototype and presented it during an innovation summit, which was organized by the group for all their brand managers with the best and most innovative things in the wearable field. They purchased our concept but, in the end, did not use it. We were convinced of the great potential of this security use case and we were aware, how many people we could benefit from it. So we pursued the idea and decided to develop our concept further. And this concept became Skarabeos.

Austrian Startup Skarabeos Launches Secure Bag, Powered By Two Triple-A BatteriesSkarabeos is not only secure, you’re even aiming for it to detect pickpocketing attempts. What’s the technology behind this feature? What can you tell us about the development process?

Our bags are equipped with an electronic security system which is integrated invisibly. This hardware system includes a magnetic field sensor and Bluetooth 4.0. The flap covering the zipper contains a magnetic lock, which is monitored by the sensor, and a Bluetooth enabled e-leash connects the bag with a phone or smartwatch to help avoid theft and loss. Two ordinary triple-A batteries provide energy for a full year. It is easy and safe to use. Users can lock or unlock the bag with their phone or smartwatch. An alarm tone, a vibration, and notifications will warn them if there is a problem.

Right now, we have finished the hardware and the app and are testing the backpack and the system with users to identify bugs and we also started the certification process. As the first product will be ready quite soon we will focus on launching Skarabeos in the beginning of next year.

Are you already using the prototype internally? How does that affect the viewpoints of the development team?

Yes, we always used prototypes in the development phase, starting with a circuit board and different kinds of box shapes (which includes the alarm system and which is placed in the bag) and some different versions of magnetic locks. The backpack itself also went through some changes, most of them „initiated“ by testing and user feedback.

Now, the rough things are done but we are still using about ten backpacks right now (and about 30 for field tests) and the nearly finished app to finish and improve it. I would say, there is no big change in the viewpoints. We invested quite a lot of time on ideation and the product development, we do things carefully and step by step and we always include external advisors and users.

To launch Skarabeos you’ll be attending TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin later this year and the Mobile World Congress in February next year. What other opportunities will people have to get a first look at Skarabeos?

TC Disrupt and Mobile World Congress are the first events where we plan to present Skarabeos and, eventually, we will also attend SXSW in 2018. For everybody who will not visit these events the easiest way to take a look at our products is to watch the video on our website, and we also have a monthly newsletter with actual information and updates, so this would be quite a good way to get an impression, too.

What is the biggest challenge that the company has faced so far?

A great idea is a good start for a startup, but if you would like to realize a first product, especially a hardware product, you need quite a lot of money. And as „hardware is hard“, investors at least expect a minimum viable product and usually a proof of sales, before they even start thinking about funding. So you have to find a way to bridge this financial gap between ideation and realization or first sales, and this was the biggest challenge for us up till now. Always believing in our idea, bootstrapping it with our own money and finally a funding option from AWS Impulse allowed us to get where we are now – this is quite a great success for us.

What is the most memorable moment throughout the history of Skarabeos?

The most memorable moment till now was our presentation at TC Disrupt in London in December 2015. We only had a prototype, but the interest in our idea from investors and visitors was huge and very encouraging. It was clear then, that we are on the right path and that we can turn Skarabeos into a success.

You’re planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign early next year. What can you tell us about your goals and perks for backers?

We think, crowdfunding is a good tool to get feedback about the product, so it will be great to get in touch with people and to see, how we can improve to best address their needs. One of our aspirational goals would be to create an app-based security service, offering users safety information about places, where they are. We will see if people are interested in this idea.

Right now, we just start to plan our campaign, so it is a bit early to talk about details. But, of course, backers can get our alarm secured backpack for supporting us, and there will be a business bag, accessories and some interesting price and bundle packages, they can expect.

You’re based in Austria – a country that has put a strong focus on startups lately. If there is one thing you could wish for in improving the European startup ecosystem – what would it be?

In short, I would say: bigger and less rigid and conservative thinking, to allow more visionary ideas and products to become true.

What’s one piece of advice you can give to fellow founders for their startup?

Follow your instinct, take as many advice as you can get and trust in yourself.



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