Steamboat couple hits the big stage with their startup company | SteamboatToday.com

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Steamboat couple hits the big stage with their startup company

Tony and Carrie Requist started a new company called U Grok It, and their product is a handheld device that uses a smartphone application to find items marked with inexpensive battery-free tags.

U Grok It

Find out more about U Grok It at UGrokIt.com

— Steamboat Springs startup company U Grok It now is on the map.

The company, which created a handheld device that uses a smartphone application to find items marked with inexpensive, battery-free tags, presented Wednesday at the annual Launch Festival in San Francisco. The two-day conference allows new companies to debut their products and existing ones to introduce new products.

Carrie Requist, who co-founded U Grok It with her husband, Tony, said Thursday that the company was among 40 chosen from more than 300 applicants to present at Launch. She said they were competing for awards and more than $1 million in investment prizes of between $50,000 and $100,000.

"Our demo went really well," Requist said. "We got a lot of strong compliments on our presentation style, our presence on stage, etc. Some people loved this thing."

They demonstrated how the device they call the "Grokker" works. It attaches to a smartphone through its audio port and uses radio-frequency identification tags that cost less than $1 and can be affixed to anything to find lost items from 6 to 10 feet away.

Requist said a panel of judges on stage provide some instant feedback, and a grand jury watches all of the presentations and chooses products that will received awards tonight.

Although they didn't win any of the awards or investment prizes Thursday, it didn't take long for some spectators at Launch to provide their opinions about U Grok It on Twitter.

"I totally need this! It is like a treasure hunt! How cool is that!"

"An Innovative Way To Never Lose Anything Again."

"Wow!!! I NEED this product!"

"Amazing product!!!"

Forbes.com contributor Shel Israel called U Grok It "my favorite so far" on a live blog Wednesday from the conference.

And CNET editor-at-large Rafe Needleman ranked U Grok It third on Thursday in an online post called "From scooters to servers: The best of Launch, Day One."

Ignite Steamboat co-founder Jay O'Hare called U Grok It's appearance at Launch a huge win for the Requists and the community. Ignite is a networking group for location-neutral businesses.

"I think what it does is confirms that companies can be started anywhere," O'Hare said. "There are so many opportunities here for businesses to start in places as remote as Steamboat and still be able to participate in big events like the Launch conference in San Francisco."

The buzz about U Grok It during the conference has been positive, Requist said. She said they've been signing up people to receive the product when it comes out.

Requist said the plan is to release a limited number in the fall, with U Grok It hitting the mass market early next year.