Scancam is one of Australia's hottest startups, single-handedly changing the way service stations protect themselves against fuel theft by using video cameras and licence plate recognition technology. Scancam was founded in 2014 by Perth duo, Eoin Byrne and Anthony Schmidt, and is the world’s first smart anti-fuel-theft technology. In 2015, Scancam snapped up $500,000 in seed funding to roll out its technology across Australia. IP Australia spoke to Scancam co-founder Eoin Byrne about the journey so far.
Tell us about Scancam and where you came up with the idea
I was working as a security operations manager at licensed venues in Perth where I was involved in integrating ID scanners; essentially a quick history check of a patrons behaviour at other venues. After a long weekend scanning IDs, I drove home in the early hours of the morning and pulled into a local petrol station to refuel my car.
After filling up, I noticed the attendant madly scribbling something down on paper behind the counter, I asked the attendant, “what are you doing?
"Every time I come into the petrol station you guys are frantically scribbling something down”. Turns out he was writing my licence plate details in case I was going to steal fuel. I thought, BP can drill to the bottom of the Bering Sea for dinosaur bones but they can’t automate this? If only BP could do a quick history check of their customers too, now that’s an idea! And that was the birth of Scancam!
After researching the problem we discovered that $120 million was lost in stolen fuel last year alone. Scancam works with fuel retailers to reduce losses from fuel theft. Our system deters and prevents fuel theft, automates the incident reporting process and manages debt recovery.
This is achieved through the use of high definition digital security cameras integrated with our industry leading cloud based platform. Scancam's award winning technology tackles the 'drive off' problem head on and uses a multi-pronged approach to stamp out this crime. Our initial trials in Western Australia have yielded significant reduction in drive offs and successful recovery of debts.
What was the first step you took in making the idea a reality?
The first step was to find a passionate business partner with the right skills and then research the problem, the industry and the solution.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned on your journey so far?
To stay hungry for knowledge and experiences.
When & why did you seek intellectual property protection?
Very early on we incorporated and trade marked, shortly after we created a non-disclosure agreement so the developers could create the minimum viable product (MVP). Once we proved the concept, and understood the technology we had created, we worked with an attorney to apply for a provisional patent. Protecting our intellectual property was an essential part of attracting and securing investors. We have since filed for additional trade marks and expanded the scope of our international patent.
Are you seeking international opportunities, if so where and why?
Yes we have a number of international leads we are currently following up on.
Do you have any advice for others embarking on the startup journey?Yes, just do it! Roll your sleeves up and get involved!
I would also say to those at the beginning of the journey to follow meticulous documentation. Most of the challenges we’ve had with our business have been a result of poor documentation. Now we use a business ‘bible’, which includes our ever evolving business plans, software outline briefs, operations manual and training guides, it’s our plan for success and it works!
If you’re a startup looking to understand the basics of intellectual property (IP) and how it applies to you and your business, IP Australia will be running a free workshop at Spacecubed on 22 April from 10am – 12pm. You can find out more and register here.