Mark Allewell looking for beta testers for new bluetooth tracking project Leash

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South African bluetooth-tracking startup Leash is calling for testers of its belongings-tracing solution as it enters a closed beta phase ahead of an official launch.

The Leash device is attached to a user’s personal belongings to keep track of the items’ whereabouts. The device is paired with the Leash smartphone app via a low power bluetooth connection.

Should an item go missing, the Leash device will talk to other Leash devices or users nearby, effectively crowdsourcing information about its last known location to help reunite the item with its owner.

According to Leash founder Mark Allewell, the solution is inspired by the growing traction of the internet of things worldwide.

“We live in a connected world. Not only are we talking to one another, but our devices talk to one another as well. You can use Leash, for example, to let you know when the device leaves a certain location; pop one in your wife’s handbag while you’re at a restaurant. If the bag moves, you’ll instantly be alerted,” Allewell says.

The startup is looking for testers of the product before its commercial launch, with 1,000 devices already ready for testing, and plans to get a further 15,000 into the field following initial testers’ feedback.

Allewell also plans to expand the concept to provide anonymised location-based data in high-risk areas; and even hopes to eventually embed the technology in actual items, without requiring a device to be attached.

“We’ll warn users when they visit a high loss area, for example, so they’ll know to keep an eye on their handbag a little bit more than usual,” he explains.

Allewell says he is looking to white label the locally designed Leash hardware and application to allow South African companies to take ownership of the current gap in the market through their own branding.

“Insurance companies, car manufacturers, even estate agents handing over the keys to new home; the branding potential behind helping clients keep track of the things they really care about is limitless.”

The closed beta will be rolled out over the coming weeks, and those interested in participating can sign up online.

Allewell has launched a number of successful startups in South Africa, including Tourism Radio – a technology hardware company in the travel space; and recently resurrected failed local Uber-rival Zapacab as a white label mobile taxi hailing solution for meter taxis.

In December, Allewell wrote an exclusive guest post for Disrupt Africa, in which he takes a look at funding and whether entrepreneurs overstate its importance at the expense of building their businesses.

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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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