February 3, 2012
Miami is known more for their beaches, babes, boats, and bars than startups. VaultBox.me could change that – in more ways than one.
This brand new startup that launched last week is a cloud-based inventory management system that lets you easily list all the items you own using your iPhone (download the app here) or computer. The idea came about after co-founder Jacob Israel’s house was broken into 3 times – in one year.
“I’m in a band, and we went on tour – and everyone’s stuff was in my house. When we got back, everything was gone. After contacting my insurance company, I learned that the proof of burden is on the homeowner – you want to replace something for its full value, you have to prove you owned it. I had a $2,000 vintage guitar, for instance, and the insurance company wanted to see a picture of the guitar, which I had – on my computer and digital camera, both of which were stolen. I am really lucky that they caught the guy – he was breaking into another house in my neighborhood 2 days later – so we got all of our stuff back.”
That was just the first break-in. By the third one, Israel had become friends with the cops, who told him that only 8% of the people whose houses get broken into have a list of serial numbers for their stuff. Because pawnshops have to enter serial numbers into a system that is linked with the police department’s, it is easy for both parties to cross-reference serial numbers and look to see if an item is stolen. That’s when the lightbulb went off.
Israel joined forced with his cousin Mauricio Jimenez and friend Mohsin Bari – none of whom have been involved in a startup – to put together the app and launch the company, which they bootstrapped. And, in fact, they have decided not to seek funding at all.
“We’re in a non-startup community. Mauricio and I reached out to people letting them know we wanted funding – and people were telling us we had to move to Silicon Valley to make a serious go of it. But we said, no, we’re here, and the problem is everywhere. You want to build a community, you can start it where you are.”
They went to Startup Weekend in Miami, which inspired them to work to create a viable startup community at home. The Miami Ad School produces a lot of creatives – and there are plenty of technology folks – but Israel told me everyone feels like they have to leave if they’re going to be a success.
“I think the problem is here we don’t believe in ourselves. The mentality is, if you want to do something big, you have to leave. And it’s not just startups – the same is true for bands, artists, etc. They don’t think they can produce anything worthwhile in Miami, but we have so much going on that I want to bring all of those communities together.”
That is a goal that all of us Tech Cocktail support and champion – so here’s hoping they succeed!
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