School spirit will soon become a physical reality.
Thirty-two thousand students and faculty will be given four free Aggie Pride tags equipped with “2ReturnMe,” a loss and identity theft protection service that is the simple and modern solution to “Finders Keepers, Loser Weepers,” according to its website.
“If somebody finds a lost item, they follow the instructions on the tag and dial 2ReturnMe and enter the individual’s PIN, and within 30 seconds they’re talking to the person,” explained Michael Salit, CEO of EM8 Corporation, which markets 2ReturnMe.
The product is available in a combo package featuring six tags and labels, and in a promotional package containing three key tags and a luggage tag, for $20, and $10, respectfully. After the first year of service, 2ReturnMe can be renewed for $10 – eight of which will be allocated to the UCD program of the customer’s choice.
“If you lose your keys once, it becomes a good investment,” Salit said. “Incoming freshmen will learn about how to give back, and graduating people will take it with them into the world – and the second you lose something and get it back, the first thing you’ll say is ‘thank you, Davis.'”
The goal is for each recipient of the original 32,000 2ReturnMe cards donated to sell two – which would result in an additional 64,000 units.
“UC Davis receives eight dollars from each unit sold – so that’s 480,000 dollars generated after the first wave,” Salit said.
Helping Aggies be good samaritans by providing them a way to return the iPod that fell out of their classmates’ backpack is only the tip of the iceberg that is 2ReturnMe’s capability. A compounding and continuous revenue stream will then be created through renewals and new customers, eventually resulting in a self-sustaining program.
A concept that will contribute to financing UC Davis programs, further principles of community, and protect people and their belongings might sound like the administration’s daydream – but Salit has been imagining such an impact ever since his son Max began to consider playing for UC Davis’ water polo team.
“Coach Doten had said that he’d love to have him come, but he wasn’t sure if there was going to be a program because of the massive financial cuts throughout the UC system,” Salit said.
Then came the revelation that 2ReturnMe technology was even more applicable when placed in a fishbowl of a community, like a college campus.
“When you leave high school, you start to develop your life and hold an ID card, a bank card, a Costco card,” Salit said. “And all of a sudden you’re not under the thumb of mom and dad and you lose things.”
Many incoming freshmen are under the supervision of their coaches, noted head water polo coach Steve Doten.
“When I’m recruiting kids and answering why they should come to Davis, I tell them we’re a small town where everyone knows and looks out for each other,” Doten said. “This product validates that.”
When Salit shared his vision of using 2ReturnMe for fundraising with Doten, it was the light at the end of the tunnel for a financially struggling athletic program.
“I’m trying to reduce the cost of everything and at the same time increase revenue,” Doten said. “If I sell you a t-shirt though, that’s a one-time thing. The fundraising process for me is annual, and it’s tough to get ahead of the wave.”
Now, after Salit redesigned 2ReturnMe specifically for UC Davis, the athletics department and EM8 Corporation are getting their names out together.
“I want UC Davis everywhere, want the brand out there, and everything I have turns into an Aggie phone or backpack,” Doten said.
The product has even transcended a rivalry.
“My good friend and college teammate coaches water polo at Cal, and I told him about this, and now he, the Cal water polo coach, has UC Davis on his keychain.”
Word-of-mouth growth is essential for Salit’s other goal for 2ReturnMe – to build a UC Davis community that extends beyond campus while teaching about not judging and giving back.
Salit emphasized that it takes a village to bring each student to UC Davis, and that forging a bond through a small donation to a program of choice for a practical tool is all one must do to ensure that following students are afforded the same opportunities.
Currently, only three percent of UC Davis alumni give back, according to Doten – a number that would multiply through circulation of 2ReturnMe tags.
The official launch of 2ReturnMe product will be at the Aggie Auction on Saturday. EM8 Corportation’s 32,000-card donation will be passed out to students in the ARC lobby the following week.
MIKE DORSEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.