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Focus on scalability and repeatability of the business

PouchNATION: PouchPASS wristband to allow continuous temperature monitoring as well as contact tracing

Please introduce yourself and your startup PouchNATION to our readers!

My name is Ilya and I am the co-founder of PouchNATION (pouchnation.com), a leading crowd control and contactless payments company for events and venues in Asia.

Historically we specialize in wearable technology (primarily NFC based) to manage large crowds at mass participation events and venues (theme parks, beach clubs, etc.) as well as to provide a closed loop payment system for the patrons. The main form factor looks like a wristband with a small chip in it that acts as a ticket as well as a wallet for your event or venue. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 we’ve launched a new flagship product called PouchPASS (pouchpass.com) that incorporates a temperature and Bluetooth sensor inside the wristband to allow continuous temperature monitoring as well as contact tracing.

To date PouchNATION sold millions of wearables in Asia since its inception in 2015 and is currently aggressively rolling out its PouchPASS product globally: the product is used in more than 20 countries to date with over 140 million temperature records collected.

How did you get the idea of PouchPASS?

Over a 5-year period we have launched and built our business to be South East Asia’s leader in wearable technologies for mass participation events and venues. We were handling hundreds of events every year and our technology was managing millions of guests across the region, providing insights to consumer behaviour, ticketing and crowd management. Then all of a sudden, COVID-19 happened; the largest event of our lifetime. Understanding immediately the gravity of the situation we decided to redirect our knowledge and resources to something that we knew would help in protecting lives and establishing the fundamentals for a better tomorrow. 

“Our market size has grown exponentially as wherever you go crowd control and screening is needed” – our “AHA” moment

For those who know us and our “can do” spirit, it is no surprise that we have now turned years of guest, organiser, venue and event management experience into one brand new product – all with our hallmark data analytics, practical applications and insights. The World Health Organisation studies completed in China and Europe indicate that 89.1% of the COVID-19 patients had fever as the major symptom, so adding a temperature monitor to our wristbands adds a layer of reassurance for guests and organisers alike when activity and businesses resume. The scenarios where this technology can be used are endless; sports, venues, events, factories, schools, hospitals, prisons, public transport, and so on. We also wanted to make sure this product would be available to the masses, so the price point has been a very important consideration for us in the launch of PouchPASS.

One of the investors we talked to congratulated us on the idea of PouchPASS and mentioned that before our market was crowd control and screening for events and venues and now our market size has grown exponentially as wherever you go crowd control and screening is needed. I guess that was the main moment of realization for the need of our product.

Why did you decide to start with PouchPASS

Aside from what I’ve mentioned above, it was mainly to help businesses to go back to operating in a worry-free way. Our core competencies are in crowd control/ management and that is where we can add value since the whole world needs it at the moment.

What is the vision behind PouchPASS?

Overall we believe that our product can become the Digital Health Passport of the future, hence we will be including new features beyond symptoms monitoring such as vaccination records etc.

In the future we believe having just your normal passport will not be enough for travelling and performing different activities, your digital health identity will be extremely important and that the space we want to be involved in.

How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?

When we redirected our resources towards the new feature of temperature monitoring we realized that measuring temperature on the wrist is different then measuring temperature in your mouth or armpit. So our first major engineering challenge was to come up with a calibration algorithm that would calibrate the “raw” readings from the hardware device and align it with the core body temperature.

In order to achieve satisfactory results we had to deploy a big amount of testers spread across the globe. Yes, wrist temperature measurement does change in different external climate conditions. Indeed, we had testers deployed in warm locations such as Singapore but also in cold places where there was winter at the time, such as New Zealand and Australia.

After several months of testing and perfecting our calibration algorithm secret formula we finally started receiving very precise results. This is when we knew we were product ready for launch. Of course the next steps included packaging, mass production, logistics, etc.

Who is your target audience?

The scenarios where this technology can be used are endless; sports, venues, events, factories, schools, hospitals, prisons, public transport, and so on. We are also currently involved with several governments for allowing people to safely travel in and outside the country. See below an example where our product was utilized: MotoGP team (Petronas Sepang Racing Team) used our product in the MotoGP in Spain, as you can see below. 

What is the USP of your startup?

We have primary 2 main USPs:

Calibration Algorithm: measuring your wrist temperature is different then measuring your mouth or armpit temperature. Therefore we’ve developed a proprietary calibration algorithm that adjusts wrist temperature to your core body temperature by taking into account different variables including location, ambient temperature, movement etc.

B2B Dashboard: majority of our competitors focus exclusively on the B2C market while we also focus on the B2B market, hence our B2B dashboard is a key USP for organizations willing to monitor their members, employees etc in real time. See examples below:

Can you describe your typical workday?

At the moment I am working mainly from home and since we run global operations my typical workday consists of almost non stop calls with the different department leaders as well as with external clients and investors. It gets very intense to talk all the time so breaks of silence are a must in between meetings.

Where do you see yourself and your startup PouchNATION in five years?

We see ourselves to be one of the leading and most innovative companies in the field of digital and health identity globally.

What 3 tips would you give to founders?

Don’t be secretive about your idea, get as much feedback as possible the sooner the possible

Choose a big market size 

Focus on scalability and repeatability of the business

Thank you Ilya Kravtsov for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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