Clare Owen
Tom Keighley

Ex recruiter turns lost property into business idea

A former Navywoman and recruitment professional has turned her attention to other people’s lost property as an entrepreneurial opportunity.

County Durham-based Clare Owen founded Lostbox less than a year ago after finding a ring on matchday, outside Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, and embarking on a quest to find its owner.

Determined in her search, Clare realised the need for a dedicated lost property platform that used the power of social media to connect people with their belongings and pets.

Her answer was Lostbox; a website and several regional social media feeds that aims to help those searching for their lost items.

Clare, a former director at North East-based graduate recruitment specialists Gradvert, is now focussing full time on the venture which she hopes to build into a thriving business through advertising and premium courier services.

She said: “Demand is huge. We’ve just been involved in a couple of big stories in the national media which has helped drive a lot of traffic to the site. A few celebrities have used it - Rufus Hound and Sunderland footballers are just a couple of examples.

“There’s really nothing else like it in the UK. I’ve never done my own business before so this was a bit of a challenge but it’s really a passion of mine.”

Lostbox is attracting around 400 new followers every day, and Clare says she has nearly reached the 40,000 mark, spread across her regional twitter accounts.

Clare added: “A lot of people ask me whether people really do come forward with items they’ve found, and they’re surprised when I tell them we get lots of mobile phones, tablets and laptops - a lot of high value things.”

The idea is now on the edge of major expansion as Clare has enlisted an ex-colleague to work on Lostbox as well as invest a significant sum in its development.

Clare is hoping to leverage the popularity of toys on Lostbox to attract partners in the toy and gift sectors who are keen to connect with a younger audience.

Recently the story of ‘Roar’, a lost Teddybear photographed in various North East locations by a twitter user, received considerable media attention and Clare aims to capitalise on the exposure.

Clare added: “Lostbox has been the starting point for a number of stories which have gone viral. For instance, one lost lion toy sparked activity that reached 140,000 facebook users - which is pretty phenomenal.

“You can never tell what will be the next big hit.”

Lostbox was incorporated in December 2012 and the website launched in February 2013.

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