For those who watched Dragons’ Den on Sunday you will have seen Peter Jones invest £100k in Lupo, a company that produced a smart gadget tracker, similar to Tile. However, the next day it was confirmed in the media that after “due diligence” he’d withdrawn his offer. It’s not been said why but a quick search shows a few alarm bells, any one of which may (or may not) have been the reason.
They admitted on Dragons’ Den that there are other similar products on the market but only really admitted to having one proper competitor, from the US (Tile, I assume). They said that their USP was the fact that the battery could be replaced, making them unique in the marketplace. Except, this is wrong – TrackR allow for a battery change and was on-sale a long time before the Dragon’s Den appearance. Selling the product as having something unique in the market, when it doesn’t, isn’t going to endear them to Peter.
They launched their product via Kickstarter, with an initial ship time of mid-2014. Immediately, users reported issues with the app and, soon after, the build quality of the device itself, many finding the back kept falling off. It took Lupo over a year to respond to users properly on this (after initially telling them to put tape on them).
Users were complaining about the app (which on Dragons’ Den the company said was the most important part of the product, as the trackers themselves were generic trackers made abroad) almost straight away. Even now, the Android app has just a 2.5 rating with many users complaining about it crashing and freezing.
Other than the poor app reviews, it also receives similarly poor reviews on Amazon.
Let’s look at the features that Lupo provides. It can identify, via Bluetooth on your phone, if the item is in range (10 – 100m). You can then make it beep via the phone app. You can also use a button the Lupo to make your phone alarm. You can also use the button to get your phone to take a “selfie”.
Now, as I have a TrackR myself, let me give the details of what this does. First, it does all the Lupo does, except for the selfie functionality. However, you can use other users to help track products – essentially a crowd sourcing method of doing so. This means if you’re not within Bluetooth range but another use is, it will still be identified. From what I can tell Lupo has no such tracking (Tile also does this, though). It can also be set so that if you’re separated from the tracker then it will sound an alarm – useful for baggage at an airport.
The TrackR also comes with a key loop for attaching to your key-ring as well as a sticky pad for affixing it elsewhere. If any of these come with the Lupo, it’s not mentioned anywhere.
To me, the extra functions (particularly the crowd-sourced tracking) of the competition makes them a lot better option.
Unrelated, but what’s happening with the name?
Let’s start with their original Kickstarter. It was called Lupo, lupo and LUPO. On Dragon’s Den the product was presented as Lupo but I noticed the press were referring to them as Xupo. However, their website domain is “myLupo”, as is the name of the product on Amazon. However, access the site and it then forwards to “myXupo” and refers, on the page, to itself as “Lupo”. Their Android app is called LUPO . However, there is an unreleased version called Xupo from December.