Inspiration for start-ups can come from all kinds of sources, but often, the start-up’s founder can remember a ‘lightbulb’ moment when they had the big idea. Tiago Fernandes, a student entrepreneur from Portugal can recall that exact point of time when the lightbulb went off for Taggeo: “I was talking to one of my professors at Porto University and he was saying how he loved to ride his bike in the mountain, take photos and then share those with other people. It made me think that there had to be a way to share that experience even further.”
Sounds like FourSquare, right? While it shares some of the same features, Tiago’s start-up, Taggeo, takes the whole concept one step further and makes sharing event-based information a rich experience. Taggeo is an application that allows you to leave your tag (text and/or images) on a given place, making it visible to the whole world or just to your friends. Taggeo gives you the power to leave your mark anywhere: almost as if you were able to leave sticky notes, to hang pictures or just to write, pretty much everywhere.
The only boundary is your imagination. This is what makes Taggeo so fun and such an effective way of sharing information, and, of course, of looking for it as well. Say you want to get feedback on a restaurant, a shop, etc. Just look for public tags (or your friend's tags) left on that very same location. If you are there, you will get them through the Taggeo app. If you are anywhere else, you can view all those tags in your PC, phone or tablet browser, simply by visiting www.taggeo.org.
The business model is two-tiered: one, collaborative marketing projects with other partners (for example, a brand might use Taggeo to leave highly customised messages for users in a specific city). Taggeo will receive a small fee if the user receives the message, then another slightly large fee if the user reads the message. The second level of the business model is to offer Taggeo’s services for custom-building applications using the technology.
What made Tiago think he had the know-how?
“I’m a computer engineering graduate and am in my third PhD year at Porto University. I’ve also done work experience at the European Space Agency, where I began to realise the huge potential of geo-location applications.”
So how did Tiago turn his idea into a startup that by the end of March 2013, already had over 2000 users worldwide (and growing fast)?
Tiago explains: “As well as myself, I also have two colleagues – who like me are still studying – who are helping out on marketing, communications and business strategy. Recently, we were also awarded 25,000 Euros by winning a competition called Arrisca C, organised by the University of Coimbra. This is helping us to continue developing Taggeo and other app ideas across IoS, Android and Windows Phone.”
“When I first looked at the Windows Phone platform, I was a bit concerned because it was new and I thought that might mean it would be unstable. But it has been a great development platform for us: it is more flexible than the other environments. I’ve been so impressed that I’m thinking about extending our use of the Microsoft stack to include Azure.”
“But more than that, the help we’ve had from Microsoft has been great. Sure, access to free technology has been very useful, but Henrique Carreiro and the rest of the Microsoft team in Portugal have been amazing. They’ve given us lots of support and introduced us to useful contacts.”
Tiago has also recently become a Microsoft Student Partner. “I like the fact that Microsoft works closely with universities, providing help to students through initiatives like DreamSpark. Microsoft works hard to create a good community for students, so I’m very happy to be a Microsoft Student Partner and share that knowledge with my peers.”
Finally, what does this year hold for Tiago and the Taggeo team?
“We’ve just launched a new version of Taggeo so we’ll be interested to see how that is received. We also hope to create some games and other apps and make those available worldwide.”
“Sometimes it is tough balancing study against being a start-up, but I’ve got used to having little sleep! Having our own company means that we can create our own jobs, rather than depending on the local job market. It’s an exciting time to be a start-up, even in a country where the economic environment is tough.”