TagTalk changing the greeting card game with smart, personalized gift tags

Communitech May 9, 2014 By 

Tag-Talk-founders

TagTalk co-founders Rachel Huang and Peter Chen hope to raise $15,000 through a Kickstarter campaign.

We’ve all been there. Standing in front of a daunting wall of greeting cards, you begin to play a game of chance. You eagerly pick one up, speed-read it and decide the message isn’t right for the recipient – too sappy, too fake or too funny.

You jam it back into its slot and the game continues. When you finally find the perfect one, you flip it over only to be discouraged by the outrageous price glaring back at you. You tell yourself it’s the thought that counts and grudgingly buy it.

Imagine skipping all of that and being able to personalize a greeting card or gift tag with your own unique message, quickly, easily and affordably.

University of Waterloo graduates Rachel Huang, Peter Chen and Collin Zhang have come up with exactly that with their startup, TagTalk. They make gift tags that look just like conventional ones, but with near field communication (NFC) chips inside, which you can load with photos, video, audio or anything else to personalize your greetings.

The recipient can then retrieve the greeting by simply tapping their NFC-equipped smartphone against the tag.

This simple tag has the potential to bring big changes to the greeting card market.

“We will be the problem solver,” said Huang, explaining the concept behind the “world’s first gift tag with craft designs.”

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TagTalk’s prototype NFC-equipped gift tags were homemade, but could pass for commercially produced items. (Communitech photo: Samantha Clark)

After buying the gift tag, it is activation-ready for the sender to personalize. There are multiple ways to activate the tag, including scanning the quick response (QR) code on the back with your smartphone, or typing in its serial number on the TagTalk website using your mobile browser.

But the most convenient way is to simply use the NFC tap. If it’s a new tag, it will take you to the TagTalk app editing screen where you will be able to add whatever multimedia you’d like. That content is stored in the chip and can be reviewed over and over again when the recipient taps their smartphone to the tag.

The process is unique in that the recipient does not need to have the TagTalk app installed on their phone. When tapped with an NFC-enabled phone, or scanned with the phone’s QR code reader, the content automatically plays in the phone’s browser.

The idea came to the TagTalk team after they worked on a project as they finished up their studies at UW last year.

“We were thinking of other NFC-related ideas, and last Christmas I came up with this idea after seeing somebody sending a postcard,” Chen explained. “I asked myself, why not combine NFC with a traditional postcard or greeting card?”

Since December, the team has developed hand-made prototypes at home that could pass for commercial products.

In order to move past the prototype phase and begin mass production, TagTalk must gain enough pledges through their Kickstarter campaign, which closes May 15. So far, they have reached close to $7,000 of their $15,000 goal.

They are selling 12 exclusive and original designs in a series of packs through Kickstarter. For instance, for $15 you can own a set of three tags, $25 gets you six, and for $35 you can own all 12 tags.

“Some people ask us ‘why do you want to do this?’ said Chen, explaining that people today are used to the fast and easy e-cards or a simple Facebook wall post. “Our answer to them is that while those things may come easy, they are gone easy; you don’t try to preserve them. So that’s the purpose for designing these long-lasting tokens, so that whenever people want to, they can retrieve it and review it.”

Huang pointed out that the tags will act as a call-to-action or takeaway, especially when senders are looking for the keepsake appeal. “I know for things like wedding invitations people will give out something like a refrigerator magnet and put their invitation in that form so that it’s a souvenir for the guest,” she said.

The future of TagTalk includes creating a full-service smartphone app that will integrate the user’s mobile contacts and Facebook and LinkedIn notifications to flag when occasions like birthdays and anniversaries are coming up. The notification will have the option of creating and buying a gift tag or greeting card straight from the app, and TagTalk will ship it directly to the recipient.

“If you look at our app as of today, we have this activation page where people start editing by activating the tag, which would mean you have to get it first. So our vision in the future is that we can skip this step, saving people a lot of hassle,” said Chen.

The entire process can be done in a few minutes and for only a couple dollars, which the TagTalk team sees as an advantage over more costly traditional greeting cards.

And the market is huge. With about 6.5 billion greeting cards bought each year in North America, retail sales average around $8 billion.

Beyond seeing the market potential, the team plans to collaborate with artists to give the tags a collectible appeal. This is something Chen pointed out as a strategic marketing advantage, as the tags feature creative, original designs.

“We are the first one to tackle this problem using the combination of NFC and QR code, and also in this perspective that these are cute, adorable and collectible tags.”

Make a “Thank You” tag for MOM!

Make a “Thank You” tag for MOM! on GOOD.is

 

Hi everyone,

This year’s Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 11) is just around the corner! Have you got mom something nice & sweet?

Being a mom is The World’s Toughest Job. We all appreciate her contribution, but hardly get a chance to actually MAKE anything for her. This year, TagTalk would like to help you to make a simple but special gift that shows how much you love her, and will surely put a big smile on her faces : )

TagTalk now offers “Thank You” tag template for free to anyone who loves her/his mom! Follow this post to download the file and make a cute tag that will decorates your Mother’s Day gift!

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You may wonder, “What’s the catch?” Well, we need your help to spread the word! After the tag is made, take a picture and tweet with the hashtag #tagformom, or send the photo to info@tagtalk.ca with your city and name in the title. If you would like to show your wishes, or what your mom says when she receives the hand-made tag, we’d love to hear all about it! Or, why not encourage HER to tweet it directly! Moms nowadays are tech savvy and super cool, right?

How to create a “Thank You” tag: 

1. Download the AI file from google drive.
2. Follow the instruction below to make it.
3. Write your Mother’s Day wishes.
4. Send it to the greatest mom in the world!
5. Tweet the tag photo with #tagformom or use the same hashtag to share on Instagram.

 

Tools you will use:

Regular paper, thicker card/paper stock, printer, scissors OR cutting knife, a piece of ribbon (or anything to hang the tag), small envelope. And of course, a pen to write the loving words in your ❤

 

Instruction: 

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How to make a single layer “Thank You” tag
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How to make a double layer “Thank You” tag
Broadcast our initiative if you enjoyed it so far. We are very excited to see how many people will participate in, and how far our call-for-action can go with the magical power of the Internet. If you have any suggestions for more fun, innovative things to do, or any comment about TagTalk’s idea or campaign, drop us a line at the comment section on the main page.

 

Lastly, don’t forget to share how your Mother’s Day went : )

 

Love,
TagTalk Team
*NOTE: The design is solely owned by TagTalk, only personal usage is allowed.

Kickstarter Tips, Tricks, and Lessons Learned via TagTalk

This is a guest post by Rachel Huang on CrowCrux.

TagTalk’s Kickstarter crowdfunding period is half-gone, and although we are only 26% funded at this moment, we’ve learned a tremendous amount about the fundraising process and would like to share the hard-earned lessons. Check out some of our tips below and let me know if you find them to be helpful via a comment!Screen-Shot-2014-04-25-at-12.51.41-PM

1. Campaign Video Tips.

If you are a well-supported team with sufficient seed funding, $20K for a killer startup video will be the most worthwhile early-stage investment – it serves as permanent education material for the public, saves potential customers time learning about your product, and increases the conversion rate from onlookers to backers.

However, there are many people like us who are bootstrapping, and our budge allocated to marketing is less than $5k. So, if you are working with an independent video producer – student director, part-time hobbyist or amateur friend – consider the following things.

a. Find the one-man army. Part of the reason why established film making companies are expensive are:

1.They have to cover large equipment purchases, rental costs, and maintenance.

2. Each member of the company has a specific role and they are specialized in part of the production line (filming, post-editing, etc).

Before reaching out to the well-equipped person who can do-it-all, ask yourself, what’s in it for that person if she/he is really so good? It can be anything from diversifying their personal portfolio to helping an early stage startup with a dream they also share.

Our Method: We emailed local universities that carry film programs. Usually the departments are proactive about getting students some hand-ons experience, so they broadcasted about the task and helped us to schedule two meetings in a very short timeframe. We met an avid film practitioner the very next day who had access to all the filming equipment needed, loved our idea, and who lives just down the street! Check out our video here.

b. Plan ahead & prepare for delays. Labor has a cost. If someone is not hired full-time to tell your story, very likely your plan will be squeezed and shifted along with other things on her/his agenda.

As a temporary team, you should at least know the next month’s schedule of your helper, and share a mutual understanding of how likely add-ons and revisions will be needed.

When we first met with our awesome producer on February 3rd, we all thought a 2-minute video could be done by end of the month. However, finding the right location and resources for shooting took about two weeks and thus we didn’t finish filming until the 22nd.

From March 4th to 16th, we watched the footage twice at the apartment of our poor guy – who was swamped by exams, classes and TagTalk’s four-page-long revision suggestions. Luckily, two days later, we finally submitted a satisfying project with a concise, explanatory, and most importantly, eye-pleasing video.

It’s important to keep in mind that even if the main part is done in time, you might also get request from Kickstarter to add extra demonstrations of the product, or clarify the status of the project. All these things might postpone your launching date, so it’s never a bad thing to prepare ahead of time.

2. Connections Determine How Far You Can Reach – Market Education Affects How Many Customers You Can Get.

Even if you failed to start early and suddenly realized how little time you have before your fundraising duration is up, don’t cut corners with the market plan. Since marketing is so important for startups, I have consulted with many experts, read numerous articles and reflected on TagTalk’s strategy. Here’s my take.

a. Be bold. Many people feel uncomfortable asking people to share their campaign on social media, provide a testimonial, or pledge to their campaign. If you want to get support early-on, you need to be shameless.

Go to lengths to find people that are interested in your idea, care about what you are doing, and make them your “startup catalyst”. You need to get hungry and be willing to ask people to join your movement in some specific way, whether it’s signing up to your email list to receive notifications or watching your campaign video.

Worst case, the person would say no. The way in which they say no will give you feedback about your campaign. If they say “I like it, but I don’t think you can pull it off,” then you need to go back and re-tool your campaign to demonstrate your credibility in your particular niche.

b. Transform your communities into your evangelists. Everyone carries multiple identity tags. For me, I’m an international student, female creator, part of an active startup ecosystem, and newbie to the entrepreneurial world. I have been in Canada for only 20 months, and most of the time was spent at school.

Therefore, I relied on not only local groups, but also my acquaintances at home in China to create brand recognition. As a result, we gained 15% clicks from Weibo, which is only third to direct source (41.5%) and Facebook (30%). Even though we emphasized the North American market and did no advertising in China, TagTalk still gets 26% traffic from there, which improved our website ranking and search friendlyness.

Check out our Bitly statistics and Campaign statistics below.

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c. Start Content Marketing as Early as Possible. Product design and business model formation might mean the world to you at the beginning, but the Internet is a flea market with excessive fancy things. No one will voluntarily swallow your bait, unless you have built a trustworthy, fruitful relationship by regularly feeding them useful content that solves problems they encounter in their business or content that is entertaining.

Be sure to take time to explain what crowdfunding is and how it works. Explain what they need in order to pledge to your campaign and how the platform is secure. At first, many of my friends, who were in an entrepreneurship-focused Master’s program, thought “support” meant only sharing and liking on Facebook – which is wonderful, but we needed pledges!

In a nutshell, do your homework. Find the best way to communicate with your audience early-on through content marketing.

3. Scoop the Data.

The achievement of similar crowdfunding campaigns should definitely be considered as a benchmark, but don’t just look at the final numbers; study exactly how their accomplishments were made.

Before launching TagTalk, we reviewed all the creative card campaigns, the hotness of every NFC related project, and the percentage and success ratio of novel products on Kickstarter. We’d recommend using a crowdfunding analytic website such as Kicktraq or KickSpy to analyze how similar campaigns progressed over time.

Although we have not yet reached our goal, we are working 15/7 (If you are still getting sleep, you aren’t working hard enough) until the end of the campaign. We’ll continue to test the best marketing channels and get feedback. If you have any feedback for us, be sure to leave a comment on this article.

Conclusion

This article may have briefly scratched the surface about the hidden points that you only begin to realized during a crowdfunding campaign. I recommend that new creators also read5 Kickstarter Mistakes You Should Avoid from Crowdcrux and Hacking Kickstarter: How to Raise $100,000 in 10 Days (Includes Successful Templates, E-mails, etc.).

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If you found this article to be helpful, please take a minute to browse TagTalk’s campaign athttp://kck.st/QlueNt. Drop us a line in the comments area about what you think, and of course, back and share the campaign if you like our idea. We would be truly thankful! Check out the video below.

 

 

 

Kickstarter Campaign Update #4

Hi everyone,

We are glad to announce that TagTalk is very close to reach the $4k milestone! Our App UI design has been finished and it will offer a consistent experience on Android, iOS and BlackBerry 10 devices. So we cannot wait to show you what you will be using!

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Step 1 & 2: Download TagTalk app; Activate the tag using one of the three ways.
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Step 3: Add content. The right side picture demonstrates video recording function.
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You can also create the greeting by uploading pictures and recording a voice message.
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On the History page, the sender can view all the tags been created, including the multimedia greeting and the direct-reply message from the recipient.

Also, we would like to introduce you another NFC-related Kickstarter campaign – Symple ID.

Symple ID is a start-up that’s working to eliminate online passwords entirely. With Symple ID you just tap your NFC-enabled smartphone to an NFC ID to sign-in…Symple! The creator Richard Fox-Ivey is also from Waterloo. This great invention is only available for another 7 days. So check it out right now and support local startups!

TagTalk Team

Kickstarter Campaign Update #3

Hi dear backers,

We were very grateful for everyone’s support. So we decided to add more on top of your existing rewards. Here they are, two bonus sets of adorable QR code enabled cards! Scroll down to see what bonus you can get in our new Reward Tiers charts.

Bonus Set I: 5 QR Code Greeting Cards – Little Animals

Size: 3 inch * 6 inch
All greeting cards 1300

Bonus Set II: 5 QR Code Postcards – Zola The Owl

Size: 4 inch * 6 inch

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ZOLA-postcards2 _1300

Each TagTalk package will contain 3 NFC gift tags.

For $15 and $25 tiers backers, you can choose one bonus set of 5 QR code products – little animals greeting cards or “Zola the Owl” postcards.

For $35 and higher tiers backers, you will get both bonus sets, or get 2 packages of either set, for free. Congratulations! 🙂

Reward Tier 1300

The pictures were put together for your reading convenience. Check out the Product Page on our website for beautiful large photos. We have been working incredibly hard to offer our backers a great deal. However, if we failed to reach the goal, everyone will be disappointed, including yourself 🙁 No one likes to see that, so please generously share TagTalk to someone who loves paper products or tech toys!

Yours,

The TagTalk Team

TagTalk NFC Gift Tag Makes Personalized Greeting Live and Collectible

TagTalk, a Canadian NFC startup, launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for their novel gift tags that put a new spin on greeting.

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Waterloo, ON April 9, 2014 — TagTalk (www.tagtalk.ca) is bringing digital content to the old medium of paper. The startup created the a series of crafted NFC (Near Field Communication) gift tag that can carry personalized multimedia greeting. Their creatively designed products combined the interactivity of virtual greetings with the personal touch of hand-written gift tags. Their crowdfunding campaign is currently active on Kickstarter.

 

On the surface, TagTalk’s stylish products might look two-dimensional, but each tag comes with an “interactive” heart – an embedded NTAG203 NFC chip that is compatible with all NFC phones in the market. With a simple tap using an NFC-enabled smartphone, customers can store or retrieve a greeting embedded in the chip. For iPhone or other non-NFC smartphone users, a QR code and an 8-letter serial code will be found on the back, providing access to the same message. The recipients can reveal the audio-visual message from the sender in the same “tapping” or “scanning” methods, without downloading any app.

 

Unique & memorable content

 

TagTalk messages are customizable in many ways. A user can choose a cover page based on a specific purpose, then add voice, photos and videos to generate a greeting. The tags are very versatile and come in different themes, include Birthday, Romance, Baby, Thank you and many others inspired by special occasions and life milestones.

 

“TagTalk allows people to deliver a digital surprise with a hand-written piece,” said Rachel Huang, one of the co-founders “We are getting many positive feedbacks from our early customers and Kickstarter backers, as they appreciate the unique greeting experience our products bring.”

 

Seeking funds via Kickstarter

 

TagTalk launched a crowdfunding campaign this April with the goal of C$15,000. The fund will be primarily used for ramping up production with qualified NFC and gift tag manufacturers. TagTalk is also planning to develop into local markets and distribution channels to reach a broader audience.

 

Introductory video of TagTalk can be found on the Kickstarter campaign page at http://kck.st/1hft5fJ.

 

About Us

 

TagTalk is a Canadian startup developing innovative greeting technologies. They are on a mission to make greetings alive and collectible. Learn more at www.tagtalk.ca. Follow TagTalk on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

 

Media Contact:

 

Rachel Huang

Co-founder

226-978-1018

info@tagtalk.ca

Kickstarter Campaign Update #2

Dear TagTalk backers,

An exciting shout-out from Waterloo: our originally designed & made package has finally arrived!!!

We considered the following things to make sure that you, our precious backers, will never regret backing us:

  • Customized packaging design, with the pocket size perfectly tailored to hold your tags without crushing the beautiful look.
  • Watercolour “How It Works” step-by-step direction, hand-drew by professional illustrator.
  • Multi-layered, matte, card stock: highly durable and presents great tactual sensation.
  • Elegant design, refreshing colour and ample of space – we paid close attention to every single detail!

HERE IT IS!

Front (left) and back (right) outer looks:

Fron&Back

Inside when opened up (with tags):

Inside

Front:

Front

Back:

Back

So what do you think? Message us or comment on the campaign page to tell us what you like or dislike about TagTalk, and what improvements would you like to see. If you like our products, please share, tweet, blog, pin or spread word in any other ways! We are planning something even more exciting, stay tuned!

Grateful,

The TagTalk Team

Tagtalk lets gift tags deliver a digital surprise

By:Michael Radon, BackerJack

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As any gentleman knows, sending a card with a gift is imperative for the opportunity it provides to share a sentiment. But what if gift givers could record videos, songs, pictures or other surprise content to enhance the gift? Tagtalk has just that idea in mind, combining QR codes and NFC to sync up to cloud-based uploads. These colorful gift tags can be attached to any present and make giving a gift more personal, even from thousands of miles away. It’s hard not to get ideas of how to use these tags to surprise friends and loved ones after watching the campaign video. A Tagtalk tag is available for as little as $6 CAD and launches in August.

Kickstarter Campaign Update #1

Hi backers,

In the first 48 hours, TagTalk has raised $1730 funding, which is 11.5% of our $15K goal! We can never do this without the help from everyone. So thank you, our early supporters!

We are glad to share with you that TagTalk just got covered by one of the leading media about NFC technology – NFCWorld.com. Please click the picture below if you would like to read the original article, and join our discussion about applying NFC technology in gifting business by following @TheTagTalk.

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We know you are looking forward to see what the final products will look like. The only way that we can put these tags into your hands is to successfully reach our funding goal. So we ask for your time and kindness to share our campaign on social networks with friends and families, as well as people who you think would appreciate nice designs. TagTalk is currently on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin and Weibo. Come and help us keep this great momentum!

Grateful,

TagTalk Team

TagTalk crowdfunds NFC gift tags

By Rian Boden, NFC World

Canadian startup TagTalk has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a range of interactive gift tags that allow the sender to upload a voice note, photo or video that the recipient can access by tapping their NFC phone on the tag.

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Each gift tag contains an embedded NTAG203 NFC chip and carries a QR code printed on its reverse, for those without an NFC phone.

To upload content, users download the free TagTalk app and activate their tag by tapping their NFC phone against it or by scanning the QR code. They can then upload pictures, audio and video to create a personalised interactive greeting. The recipient can then retrieve the message with their smartphone, without the need to download the TagTalk app. Using a “direct-reply” function, the sender can also receive real-time read notifications.

To launch the service the team is looking for C$15,000 by 16 May 2014. “The majority of the allocated fund will be used in the production cycle, in essence, to mass-produce the tags with qualified NFC and gift tag manufacturers,” TagTalk explains. “We will also use the fund to assist with accessing local markets, organisations and networks with a vision that one day, you will be able to purchase our tags directly from local retailers.”