20-Year old CEO of KW Startup on a Mission to Make Dumb Screens Smart with NFC & Motion Tech

Founder and CEO Douglas Lusted is just heading into his third year at University of Waterloo and has already completed his first round of funding for his KW-based company, WestonExpressions, which officially launches its dumb to smart screen digital signage technology today.

Linkett, is a device that transforms existing TVs and digital signs from a one-way in-store display to a two-way interactive experience. The USB/HDMI connector uses patent-pending NFC technology to let consumers tap their smartphones on enabled displays to receive coupons, apps, games or purchase products online. It also understands when a consumer is walking by the screen, looking at it or interacting with it which can trigger different content to display depending on the consumer’s level of interest.

Lusted was inspired to create Linkett to help retailers and marketers better understand the effectiveness of their in-store or out-of-home advertising. He hopes Linkett will bridge the gap which currently exists in measuring this type of advertising by offering retailers a way to gain real-time insights and analytics and even be able to A/B split-test ads to figure out which creative and location may be the most effective.

“The ability to create interactivity helps generate a sales funnel similar to online advertising which generates those key metrics like you would see on Google AdWords, however we are bringing these strategies to the world of digital signage from cost per acquisition right through to impression,” explains Lusted.

Unlike others in this space, Linkett won’t have a hefty hardware price tag attached to it which makes it much more accessible to small to mid-sized businesses. Linkett instead works on a SaaS model, charging users monthly for the use of software based on the number of enabled displays.

With today’s launch, WestonExpressions is opening a limited pre-order offer of Linkett for a one-time fee of $99 which includes three devices and access to their online platform for 2-months of service. First devices are expected to ship in fall 2013. They are already on track to pilot their product in a couple of retail and school locations in Toronto and Waterloo this summer.

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Lusted says he owes a lot of his success to opportunities he may not have received if it wasn’t for his age and the fact that he is a university student. “It’s unbelievable how much the university community can really help you. There is almost an unlimited amount of resources that you can take advantage of and if I wasn’t young enough to be in school I think I would have missed out,” Lusted told BetaKit.

As one of twelve entrepreneurs awarded the VeloCity Venture Fund in 2012 when he was only nineteen, Lusted has done well in utilizing university resources to create his success. His company continues to be based in the VeloCity Garage where alum like, BufferBox and Thalmic Labs, have graduated. He is also a part of the University of Waterloo Enterprise Co-op program which he says has honed his skills and provided him with mentorship and coaching.

Lusted told BetaKit that WestonExpressions just closed their first round of funding for an undisclosed amount with their lead partner Dennis Bennie from XDL Capital Group and additional funds raised from Nigel Stokes Venture Fund, one of the founders of Enterprise Co-op.

Tom Emrich

Tom Emrich

Tom leads a double life as a freelance consultant and writer focusing on mobile, tablets and emerging technology. An early adopter since childhood, he blames his need to play with the latest in tech on a severe case of FOMO and a wide-eyed fascination that the future is unfolding right before our very eyes. He has recently embarked on a wearable tech journey as one of few Google Glass Explorers in Canada and is one step closer to becoming an outright cyborg.

  • Victoria Stacey

    The video is great! I loved the Bus Stop part. The idea of being entertained while waiting for the bus, and then being able to take it with you on the bus is genius! Thanks for sharing the story.

  • Alexandra Monroe

    Awesome idea! I can’t wait to see Linkett everywhere!

  • Gary Lui

    Huge turn off when I read that it will allow ads to be on your phone.. take a lesson from Facebook and Youtube, introduce the product ad free to build your consumer base and then integrate advertisements slowly into the product

    • Ravi Balakrishna

      You get to choose when you receive content.
      For example the TV it is attached to will say for a coupon tap here. If you don’t want a coupon you don’t have to tap. It never sends you information without you physically touching the device.

      This also doesn’t require an app download so no ads are ever sent to your phone without your consent. Think of it like a QR code, but more interactive.