How solving the age-old lost and found dilemma improves the customer experience

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It has happened to most of us, losing something valuable or sentimental along the way. And even though you definitely know where you lost it, the hotel, the airport or the music venue, these places don’t have a system to log and track these items. They search a lost and found box or closet, take your contact information and that’s the last you hear of it.

Lost and found is a decade-old problem; until recently, no company had made any progress in solving it. That all changed with the advent of Boomerang. In September 2020, entrepreneur Skyler Logsdon celebrated his 28th birthday with friends, including two of his best friends Augustine Diep-Tran and Philip Inghelbrecht. All three have previously been founders or leaders of successful companies, such as Shazam, which acquired Apple for $400 million, TrueCar, Tatari, and YourMechanic, which acquired Wrench.

“We just sat around the pool talking about ideas,” says Logsdon. “We were all aware of the lost and found problem. People don’t know what to do when they lose something. Or if they find something. They post on Craigslist or Facebook, or Next Door; wherever they can post, but none of those companies are lost and found companies. The person who lost the item and the person who found it never find each other.

This conversation led to a deep dive into the industry to understand why it was so broken and how they could fix it. They realized that lost property is not just a problem for people who lose their belongings; it’s essentially a major customer service problem faced by businesses of all sizes. “If you want to solve lost and found, you have to help these companies first,” says Logsdon. “We wanted to build the software they need to organize their lost and found items instead of just throwing them in a box.”

They launched Boomerang in November 2021 with a $2.8 million seed round backed by venture capital funds and angel investors including GGV Capital, Relay Ventures and Animal Capital. The founders hired a team of engineers to begin product development, and in May 2022, the machine learning-based product went live.

Boomerang’s self-service lost and found management software can organize a company’s lost and found inventory management for lost property claims into one view, enabling much faster matching. In addition, it provides a fully managed lost and found service for organizations that deal with hundreds of lost items every week, such as universities, stadiums and transportation hubs.

“We started with smaller stock companies, like stadiums, that have a home game once a week, or in the NFL every two weeks,” says Logsdon. “On game day, you might get a deluge of 100 or more lost property claims, and this is where our model starts to learn. We worked with stadiums like Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Browns, and from there we started looking at universities like UC Berkeley and Virginia State. Boomerang was much faster at matching items, and in January of this year we were ready for the big one, taking over our first batch of airports.”

At Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR), as with any organization that transports people, items are lost daily at various points in its customers’ journeys. The three main points are at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint, on the plane, or elsewhere in the airport. And as Matthew Szwejbka, marketing and communications specialist at SYR, explains, the airport only manages lost and found items that fall into the latter category.

He says: “We haven’t measured it at all. Someone called the already overstretched airport security guards (ASOs) working the desk that day and described the item they had lost. The ASO would then rummage through the lost property inventory looking for a match.”

In January of this year, SYR partnered with Boomerang to increase the visibility of several metrics, including claim counts, claim breakdowns, stock counts, inventory breakdowns, and match percentages. It has already seen results including a 50% reduction in time spent on lost and found and a 20% increase in returns from month one to month two.

“Now the customer just enters a photo and description of their item, and all the work of matching that lost and found claim with a real item in our inventory is handled by the artificial intelligence,” says Szwejbka. “It significantly lightens the load on our ASOs and ensures a consistent customer experience. It also strengthens our brand because people are willing to drive to the airport, giving them the best customer experience.”

Organizations using Boomerang’s technology can accept claims 24/7, not just when staffed. Communication is also streamlined, as the system collects shipping details and payment, ships the item, and triggers a customer email with the tracking number, reducing call logs and emails. Boomerang now has a team of 12 and is targeting other industry sectors.

“If you want to solve lost and found, if you want to solve this black hole problem where people can’t trust you to have their item, you need a process,” says Logsdon. “And it’s not just about lost items of enormous sentimental or monetary value. Someone went to a concert and lost their diabetes package. Imagine what that would have looked like if they couldn’t get it back. Being able to return it quickly was magical. Those moments give the team a boost and make all the hard work and risk worth it.”