Gloucester start-up crowdfunding for tool and caravan security tech manufacture

Steve Roberts 2

Research published last year by Direct Line revealed that more than £83 million worth of tools were stolen across England and Wales in the previous three years.

This equates to £83,500 of equipment going missing every day. Despite reporting these incidents to police forces, just three per cent of the tools are ever reunited with owners, meaning tradespeople across the country have lost more than £80 million worth of tools.

Now a Gloucester-based technology start-up  is hoping to raise £50,000 via crowdfunding to manufacture its Smart-Lead, an integrated GPS tracker for equipment including construction tools and leisure vehicles.

Local businessman and former construction project manager Steve Roberts established Sentry after he invented the Smart-Lead following seeing the impact of tool theft on colleagues and employees. Special features include the ability for owners to remotely ‘switch off’ stolen equipment, reducing its value and making recovery more likely. It also uses a multipoint system designed to outsmart criminals that may try to remove or disable the technology.

Sentry’s crowdfunding campaign runs for 30 days from 1 September on Kickstarter. Supporters can pledge as much or as little as they like, with rewards available for any pledge of £20 or more.

Early Smart-Lead prototypes were created using 3D printing, and interest from the construction and caravanning communities has been high. Angel investment secured last year funded an engineering team to handle BSI testing and CE certification as well as the development of a user-friendly online portal to manage the device.

Steve says it’s important that the product is affordable as well as effective, and proceeds from the crowdfunding will finance cost-efficient manufacture.

“We want to make it simple for people to protect the things that matter to them, whether it’s the family campervan or the tools needed to earn a living,” Roberts explains. “These items are easy to steal, but difficult to recover and the impact of their loss can be really damaging, emotionally and financially. Smart-Lead helps recover stolen items, but we also hope to deter theft. We know the technology works, and that demand is high. The next stage of our journey is all about making sure we can sell the Smart-Lead at a reasonable price.”

Smart-Lead is an integrated tracking technology that can be retrofitted into construction equipment such as power tools and cement mixers as well as older caravans, campervans and motorhomes which don’t include GPS trackers as standard. Additional versions are under development for a wide range of applications including agricultural equipment, jet-skis and electric bikes. In the longer term, Sentry plans to partner with original equipment manufacturers to have Smart-Lead technology built-in at the point of manufacture.