ScanChat looks to virtually boost the printed page

A new app that debuted on Dragons' Den allows publishers to add content to pages that can be accessed when users scan them.

Viewers of Dragons’ Den last night got a sneak peek of a new augmented reality app called PressFront that excited Dragons Michele Romanow and Michael Wekerle because of its ability to add content to printed pages when they were scanned.

App co-founder Thomas Crown went on the show asking for $150,000 in exchange for 10% of the company. Romanow and Wekerle ended up offering a deal of $150,000 for a 25% equity stake, of which 2.5% was reserved for an option pool to which Crown would contribute an additional 5%.

Since filming the appearance in the Den, the app has changed its name to ScanChat, and is now available in market. App co-founder Thomas Crown says though the app picked up a funding offer on the CBC show, the company decided to go it alone and be privately owned.

“We went on Dragons’ Den to promote the app,” he says. “We decided it was the right time to get the word out and make the device out there.”

Started as an augmented reality app to be paired with Crown’s magazine, Health and Wellness, which is targeted at affluent Canadian women, he says the creators saw potential to expand it to other titles.

Similar to other augmented reality apps, ScanChat allows users to scan magazine pages and access additional content about the products on its pages. Publishers pay per page that has content added to it. ScanChat charges $1 per page that is connected to the app and $29 per leaf to do the augmentation for publishers. Dragon Joe Mimran remarked that the costs to get involved are “cheap.” Pages that have be paired with ScanChat are tagged with a “scan for more content box” to flag it to readers.

What Crown says makes ScanChat different is that the app also allows users to be connected with other users who have scanned similar things and might have common interests. He adds that the app turns magazine reading into a more lean-in experience, as opposed to a more passive and casual one.

The app can also be used in the non-magazine world, allowing users to scan items they want more information on, like a pair of shoes in a shop, and get access to related content and users.

Apart from the initial promotion Crown wanted the app to get through the appearance on the Den, ScanChat will be pushed out through a combination of online advertising and attending events.