Keeping tabs on events that will be happening sometime in the future can be a real pain. I experienced this agony firsthand a couple of months back when I forgot to note down the date of an Eric Clapton concert I was supposed to attend. As you can guess, I missed the event, and wasted a few hundred dollars in the process.
Sebastian Kim and Nic Barker, founders of Sydney-based event-tracking app Notivo, can attest to this as well. Their idea for Notivo was sparked by their frustrations over Steam’s flash sales, which they had no choice but to wait for as they were too poor to afford the full price of their desired game.
“We were looking forward to Steam’s flash sales on that particular game, so we had to check the ‘Today’s deal’ page on Steam’s website every single hour,” recalled Kim. “Given our software engineering background, we decided to automate this inefficient task instead by writing a script quickly to monitor Steam.”
They then realized that there were countless other tasks that people could track automatically. In this age of automation, Kim believes that manual events tracking is the wrong way to go.
Hence, Notivo was born. What it does is to help you to track any future event that you log into the mobile app, and you will receive a notification when they happen. For example, you could enter “It’s going to rain in Singapore” in the box under “Notify me when”, and the app will ping you when the weather changes.
Huge potential market
The number of use cases are potentially endless. Almost any time-sensitive event, from movie times to game releases, can be tracked – though this has yet to be tested and proven. As a result, the market for this service is also potentially very large, to the extent that Kim is unable to give a good estimate of it at the moment.
“We’re targeting every business that wants to send out time-based information to their customers, and of course we’re looking for as many users as possible,” he explained. “The fact that Notivo can be used to track basically any type of future information is what makes it so powerful, and the potential market so big.”
Notivo is able to pull information from several sources through web scraping techniques as well as public APIs. Some of their current sources include Steam, Yahoo, and ESPN.
The question is, how can they monetize such a service? “We’re planning a volume-based subscription for businesses, as well as considering cross-selling for other products in the near future.”
Playing in a high-stakes game
Given the potential size of their target market, Notivo is running up against some of the big guns, such as Twitter, Google Now, Facebook, and IFTTT. As such, both of the founders made personal sacrifices to dive in and get this app up and running.
“We both had to spent most of our time away from our families, friends and even our girlfriends, because we had to travel around the USA, South Korea, and Australia – wherever there’s an opportunity,” Kim said.
He compares running this startup to playing in a poker tournament. “We have to put all-in all the time, and can never stand up and take a break.”
Notivo is currently in the pre-seed stage, and have recently participated in TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY 2014 event, where they released their first official version of the mobile app. They are now seeking US$100,000 in seed funding.