Any parent who has temporarily lost their child in a crowded amusement park probably knows what pure terror feels like. Disney World can transform from a magical kingdom into a maze of fear.
Brandon Kashani and his Raleigh-based startup TraKid aim to keep kids connected to parents using technology. TraKid offers a wearable tracking device for children and a software platform rolled into a mobile app that allows parents to locate said kids.
“Our main mission is to prevent the separation of any parent from their child,” said Kashani, CEO of TraKid.
A parent using TraKid rents the wearable child tracking device when they enter the park for $10-20, downloads the app and pairs the device. Kashani says the company’s goal is that parents never have to involve park security if they get separated from their child. In case they can’t access the child, though, the TraKid app has an “I lost my child” button that notifies security.
The TraKid product offers a new solution to the market, Kashani says, because it is designed for theme parks at a reasonable price. The wearable device—which Kashani compares to an Apple Watch but thicker—has live, accurate tracking for indoors and outdoors with a long-lasting battery and a comfortable, waterproof design.
Bigger problem than he first realized
When Kashani first did some market research, he found some data claiming that 10-11 kids go missing in amusement parks every day. When he met with the company’s first interested park and recited those figures, he said the executives laughed.
In their small- to mid-sized park, they said they lose 40-50 kids a day and it takes 10-30 minutes to find them, along with a lot of resources, as part of an outdated procedure.
Kashani—who credits growing up in a family of entrepreneurs for his interest in finding and tackling problems—met with the executives after reaching out to several companies on LinkedIn with the idea for a child-tracking system. He wasn’t expecting such strong interest for the TraKid idea, which actually came from a team of four he was a part of during a senior entrepreneurship class at NC State in 2017-’18.
“I went to the amusement park expecting to meet with the head of operations one-on-one, kind of casual,” Kashani said. “Then I walk in the conference room, and the conference room is filled with all the execs of the company.”
Kashani said he was shocked to see the heads of security, marketing, admissions and operations. Kashani told them they were students with a project—”not a real company”—but the park was still interested.
After admittedly not having done much preparation for the park meeting, once he saw the executives’ interest, Kashani redoubled his efforts on market research.
“I spoke to, like, 50-100 parents who had experienced losing their kid at the park,” Kashani said. “That was terrifying for them. Imagining how they felt when they lost their kid, even if it was for five minutes it felt like two hours for them.”
At the moment, TraKid is focusing on amusement parks, though Kashani said he envisions his product serving other locations and use cases in the future. The company was supposed to do a pilot run with Virginia’s Kings Dominion amusement park this summer before the coronavirus pandemic put those plans on hold.
The company has raised half a million dollars in outside investment and is in the process of raising more, Kashani said. He built a C-Suite after graduation through “a lot of networking and connections” and now heads six full-time employees and four part-time contractors.
Kashani said some team members have temporarily lost their own kids, at the beach and amusement parks, which motivates them to work for TraKid.
Said Kashani, “Almost everyone on the team—especially the more experienced people—are on the team just because they want to do good in the world.”