Island festival organizers develop innovative wristband for cashless transactions

EventsWearables partners Stephen Thurlbeck, Craig Timmermans and Kelly Timmermans pose for a photo with marketing tools for their new product. The Island entrepreneurs were one of four groups who recently presented their concept to a NORCAT Angel Investers event.

LITTLE CURRENT—Manitoulin Country Fest organizers Craig and Kelly Timmermans of Little Current have developed a revolutionary new product, EventsWearables, a cashless wristband that will help other event organizers increase sales and manage their regulatory controls.

Utilizing bar-coded wristband technology, EventsWearables enables cashless transactions at events, identifies age of majority fans versus underage fans and certified bartenders and volunteers, helps prevent fraud, mitigates alcohol related litigation and creates an auditable transaction history for reconciliation and reporting, all with the swipe of a wristband.

“In 2012 we had a massive amount of fraud at the beer gardens of Country Fest,” explained Mr. Timmermans of the idea for EventsWearables. “We figured out after that someone purchased similar tickets to our drink tickets and stole a ton of drinks—it was a free-for-all. People don’t consider this stealing, but it is and it happens to a lot of event organizers.”

After the incident in 2012, Mr. Timmermans set to work trying to come up with a solution.

“I did a lot of research,” said Mr. Timmermans. “I looked into microchip bands, but I found it very expensive. Not only are the bands expensive, but it is expensive for festival organizers to buy or rent the equipment needed and I found that there were numerous security issues because of all the information being stored on the band.”

Mr. Timmermans’ ‘light bulb moment’ for EventsWearable came while at the Tim Hortons in Espanola.

“I was paying for my order and I grabbed a gift card with a barcode that was out and joked ‘put it on my card’,” said Mr. Timmermans. “The cashier said it was dead until it was activated and a lightbulb just went off in my head. We had always printed our own wristbands (for Country Fest) so it was simple to add the barcode and the wristbands would be dead until we entered the information and funds.”

The barcode technology has been around for years. “It’s really basic and all you need is a standard barcode scanner in terms of equipment or a smartphone as a festival organizer,” he said. “There’s a reason that most stores still use barcodes—it’s easy and effective.”

Mr. Timmermans created EventsWearables, and the pair tested it at Country Fest.

“We had some challenges along the way, as many developers do,” said Ms. Timmermans, adding that development has been through various phases and is tried, tested and true. “Our partner in Toronto (Stephen Thurlbeck) has been testing the technology and hitting it with thousands of bots to ensure that it can handle multi-band environments.”

EventsWearables was tested at the 2015 Toronto Octoberfest and passed with flying colours.

“We were processing 7,000 transactions an hour, 116 per minute and it was flawless,” said Ms. Timmermans. “It was so busy the beer vendors left the spigots open and the bands were able to keep up.”

Since Octoberfest, the couple has turned their focus to developing a compatible cellular app to allow festival patrons to check their balance and reload their wristband with funds.

“The analytics from the wristbands is really cool,” shared Ms. Timmermans. “They can tell an event organizer the name, gender, birthday and postal code of an individual, as approved by the privacy commission. From there it tells organizers things like what people are drinking and what the sales are down to the minute. It also allows organizers to anticipate alcohol sales and helps with marketing.”

In terms of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission, Ms. Timmermans said that EventsWearables helps organizers to set better controls and allows parameters to be put in place such as flagging individuals who have purchased a certain amount of drinks in an hour, or cutting off patrons event-wide who have over-consumed.”

The Timmermans have been working closely with the Northern Centre for Advance Technology Inc. (NORCAT) in developing EventsWearables and were selected as one of four companies to pitch to Angel Investors recently.

“There were a lot of investors and technology industry leaders in the audience and we heard back from a potential investor,” said Mr. Timmermans. “We are in the midst of a conversation with an investor and are hoping that things progress well. We want to get funding to help develop infrastructure to hire staff and purchase equipment. We have had a lot of festivals express interest and want to deliver.”

“The festival circuit is small—we all know each other,” Ms. Timmermans said. “We want to use our relationships to help other festival organizers like ourselves by offering a product that is affordable and reliable for them and their patrons.”

EventsWearables is patented in Canada, with US and international patents pending. “This is a cool product, developed on Manitoulin,” said Mr. Timmermans.

For more information about EventsWearables, visit: eventswearables.weebly.-com