From non-technical entrepreneur to tech startup co-founder: An MBET's adventure

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I’m a non-technical entrepreneur. Before my last term at the Conrad Centre, my experience with Near Field Communication (NFC) was no more than using the access card to enter the building. Yet, in 2013 I surprised myself with my involvement in two startup ideas related to NFC.


Rachel Huang and Peter Chen with a table, poster and laptop

Rachel Huang and Peter Chen demonstrating GenuineAce in the Student Life Centre at the University of Waterloo.

GenuineAce: My first experiment with NFC

My first NFC experiment began when my focus shifted for my project in BET 604 (New Technology-based Venture Creation) from Ontario wine exports to an anti-counterfeiting merchandise software, GenuineAce.


Peter Chen and Rachel Huang

I invited Peter Chen, MEng (Electrical Engineering), to develop an NFC chip that could be embedded and have an encrypted, unique ID that would allow customers to detect product authenticity with their mobile phone.

Peter Chen and Rachel Huang

While raising funds for the GenuineAce prototype, Peter came up with the idea to create interactive NFC gift tags that can carry multimedia greetings. Traditional tags and cards only allow buyers to write plain text, and as online greetings and e-cards become more prevalent, they are becoming less special and less memorable.

We decided to bring greetings to life and make them collectible, and named the idea TagTalk.


Pink gift tag with a cupcake
Blue gift tag with love birds
Yellow and green gift tag

Three of TagTalk's NFC-enabled gift tags.

TagTalk: Using NFC to bring greetings to life

Over the past three months, Peter and I have been working on TagTalk with fellow University of Waterloo alumnus, Collin Zhang, BCS (Computer Science).

TagTalk now has nine tags with different themes and styles.


Peter Chen, Rachel Huang and Collin Zhang

The TagTalk co-founders (from left to right), Peter Chen, Rachel Huang and Collin Zhang, with some TagTalk gift tags.

TagTalk's gift tags have the ability to store pictures, audio, or video greetings. They are able to convey your feelings for someone, who may be thousands of miles away, through a much more engaging experience.

Senders can generate a greeting with their smartphone, by tapping an NFC-enabled phone or scanning the tag's QR code in TagTalk's free mobile app. Receivers can tap, scan, or look up the tag's serial code to retrieve the greeting without the hassle of a download.


TagTalk logo

TagTalk launched a crowd-funding initiative on Kickstarter this month;
we are very proud to introduce our idea!

You can support TagTalk by liking our Facebook page, following us on Twitter, checking out our LinkedIn profile, and spreading the word!

We are truly grateful for all your support!

About Rachel


Rachel Huang

Rachel Huang, MBET '13, has attended four universities in three countries, China, the U.S., and Canada. As a newcomer to Canada, Rachel is fascinated by the energy and diversity of Canada's technology triangle.

Rachel looks forward to continuing to meet and learn from brilliant and talented people as she pursues interactive gift tags in Waterloo.

Rachel leads product design and marketing for TagTalk.