About a year and a half ago, Anthony Lombardi and his father, John, had the beginnings of a good idea. Family friend Lisa Larsen had developed a software program that would allow people to broadcast high-quality video over the Web. With input from others, including a friend in the security industry, the three created iFoxCam, which sells video monitoring systems to day cares, homes and businesses. John Lombardi and Larsen are across the country in Rhode Island, but Anthony, a fourth-year marketing student at Chico State and a graduate of Hamilton High, has launched the product locally, installing the first system in Azad’s Martial Arts Studio.
What kind of response have you gotten in Chico to your system?
We’ve gotten a fairly good response. We’ve done more along the lines of market surveys, testing the waters. We gave it to Azad’s for free so we can stress-test it and play with it, and we’re having a good response. I think we’re having more of a response nation-wide than just in Chico. We got an e-mail from Saudi Arabia, and it blew our minds.
How does it work for, say, a parent of a child in day care?
There are cameras hooked up in places people want to monitor. Those cameras are connected to a computer, and then that computer sends the video feed to our server. The parent logs onto our Web site with a user name and password and views that feed. One of the big problems with older systems is that parents were pulling video directly from the day care’s computer which made it slow. We don’t have that problem anymore.
Have you come up against any issues of privacy?
That was one of the concerns when we first got into this industry. Obviously any time you’re dealing with children, there’s going to be, “Is this safe? Is it password-protected?” We’ll set a certain password and then every month we can change that password for you so that those who aren’t in the day care anymore can’t log on. We haven’t had any big security threats.
How much does one of these systems cost?
For a typical home it’s $19.95 a month. Businesses run $19-$25 a month. For day cares we usually charge $1 per week per child.
What’s it like for you, a marketing student, getting this real-world experience?
I think it’s awesome. MSNBC does a segment called “Elevator Pitch.” It’s basically a five-minute segment where a small-business owner can come in and hypothetically pitch their product to investors. Kind of like if you were stuck in an elevator with a CEO and you had 60 seconds to pitch your idea. So I sent them an elevator pitch and they liked it. The only thing holding me back is an international patent—they’re really, really expensive. Going into my marketing class this semester, our first assignment is an elevator pitch. So I feel like I kind of have a leg up.