Serial entrepreneur Wechsler launches Spokenote tech startup

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Spokenote, the Fishers-based startup headed by serial entrepreneur John Wechsler, offers a high-tech update to the humble hand-written note.

The company, which has its official public launch today, offers QR codes that users can scan with their mobile phones, allowing them to easily record video messages that they can then share with others via stickers. Recipients can then access the videos by using their phones to scan the blocky black-and-white QR codes printed on the stickers.

“Think of it as the digital equivalent of the sticky note,” Wechsler said.

Wechsler said the idea for Spokenote came after he talked with a friend who wanted a way to send video to his brother who was serving in the military overseas. Wechsler said he searched but couldn’t find any existing product that would do what his friend envisioned. So Wechsler worked up a quick prototype and showed it to his friend, who gave Wechsler his blessing to move forward with the idea.

By last fall, Wechsler was convinced that the concept was useful enough to be commercially viable. “Everyone I told this story to, they immediately came up with a use case. … That’s when I decided to seriously launch a business around this.”

Wechsler is the founder of two Fishers-based organizations: coworking space Launch Fishers, and the Indiana IoT Lab, which supports entrepreneurship around internet-connected devices, or the “internet of things.”

In April, Wechsler announced he planned to step down from his CEO role at both organizations to focus on entrepreneurial activities that at the time he did not name.

Wechsler said he and his nine-person team have already come up with more than 150 ways Spokenote could be used. Among them: Loved ones could record a personal greeting to include in a birthday card or gift; Airbnb hosts could create how-to videos that show guests how to operate kitchen appliances; or hospital staff could send patients home with videos that detail at-home care procedures.

Wechsler said he’s confident that more applications will emerge as more people start to use the product. “We’re pretty sure we haven’t even found the killer app yet.”

Startup funding for the company came from Wechsler and his four co-founders. Another round of funding came from angel investors. Wechsler said the company expects to do another fund-raising round later this year.

Wechsler said he’s encouraged by the traction Spokenote has gained so far. Through friend-of-a-friend connections, the company signed up as a sponsor of the National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. That entitled the company to get its first product, packages of 10 Spokenote stickers, placed into the swag bags for the Daytime Emmy Awards show, which is set to air live Friday evening from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in California. Attendees of the awards program will receive free Spokenote 10-packs, among other gifts.

Getting the product in the hands of so many potential customers in this way could pay off, Wechsler figures. “We’re hoping that some of the people that see this, it catches on—or we at least plant the seed.”

Currently, Spokenote is available for sale on the company’s website, on and at several local independent retailers. Wechsler said Spokenote is working with a manufacturer’s representative which is helping the company gain traction with large retailers, though no retail agreements have yet been signed.

Spokenote will also be part of this week’s Spark!Fishers, a community event in Fishers that began Tuesday and runs through Saturday. Participants in the event’s car show, for instance, received Spokenote products so they could create and share video messages about their vehicles.

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness said the city has already been thinking of other ways it could use Spokenote in the future. “It’s such a simple concept, but it has so many powerful applications to it.”

Fadness said the city is in discussions over financial incentives for Spokenote, though no offer has yet been extended.

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