Estonian startup launches a compact and stylish Smart Card reader

+ID is both minimalistic and functional

Yet another startup from Estonia which classifies under the popular Estonianmafia hashtag is launching a new product today. +ID is compact, stylish, minimalistic and functional all in one. Unlike many other Smart Card readers +ID incorporates an MicroSD memory card reader inside the product. We had the opportunity to interview the team behind the startup.

The inventor of +ID is Martin Lazarev who for the last 6 years has been living in Brazil
According to the team the idea came to them in 2009 when they were frustrated with cables on all other Smart Card readers. The product itself was invented by Martin Lazarev who travels a lot. Although he’s from Estonia he has been living in Brazil for the last 6 years.

The idea got a bigger push when Martin introduced it to Argo Männiste who got excited about the idea. After several rounds of brainstorming Argo presented the product to his friend Arte Ermel. Ermel also saw potential in +ID so the team started working on it. The whole process from the first prototypes to the final product took 4 years. In the first few years they were tinkering with the design and technical drawings.

Development was unusually long because the team was scattered all around the world. Martin was then living and still lives in Brazil while Argo and Arte were staying Asia at the time. The first prototype that Martin produced was made out of cardboard.

First +ID prototype was made out of cardboard

In 2011 the team found a manufacturing partner from China who helped them in developing the reader. Although their Chinese partner was eager to produce +ID the team didn’t see them as a good partner. The biggest issues came from using cheap plastics and communication with the factory was erratic to say the least. For those matters the team decided to ditch the initial partner. Unfortunately the same partner that they decided to ditch began manufacturing a cheap and plastic copy based on the original design.

The final partner that now produces +ID is from Taiwan. With the help of a new partner the team came up with 6 different prototypes. Some of the parts used in the product were manufactured from scratch.

Before contacting any of the potential partners Martin came up with a few design mockups. With the know-how of the Taiwanese compnay they had to make a lot of small and big changes that made the product as good as possible.

+ID mockups

+ID mockups

+ID joonised

+ID mockups

According to Männiste +ID is manufactured in Asia because of smaller costs. If the product were manufactured in its home market of Estonia the price would be a lot higher.

All of the development was funded by the three men themselves with the help of one unnamed angel investor. Friends and family of the team were used as a focus group. Overall testers liked the product and gave great feedback about improving +ID.

The team was also present at the last Websummit conference in Dublin, Ireland where they received positive feedback. Männiste told us that they didn’t put the product up on Kickstarter because they wanted to develop the product themselves without any third party influence.

The inventor and designer of +ID is more then happy with the final result. They have made all of the necessary tweaks and changes to the reader that were needed to be done. “Manufacturing a product like this is a big challenge. You have to consider all of the small details and brush them to near perfection. For example in the end we decided to ditch a hook from +ID because of design aesthetics,” said Martin.

Although the development and manufacturing phases of the product are done the team thinks that the real work is just beginning. They see that sales and marketing of the product are even harder then initial development. With the hard work and motivation Lazarev is certain that they can be successfully with +ID.

Looking back Ermel and Männiste think that the development could have been quicker if there weren't any language barriers or geographical restrictions. For all of the aspiring entrepreneurs in Estonia and worldwide the team recommends to contact an Asian manufacturer with final design and technical drawings well before production. Otherwise the start of the manufacturing could be significantly delayed. The team also urges everyone to patent their products to avoid any copycats from sprouting up.

+ID design drawing from 2011


The inventor of +ID Lazarev added that you should always have a great team backing you up. Doing all of the work alone would be too hard. You need a good team and lots of patience, Lazarev said.

+ID is on sale starting from today. The first batch of the product will be sold only within Estonia for 29 euros a piece. The team is actively looking for a seed investor to enter the markets of Finland, Belgium, Brazil and Malaysia since these are the countries that also employ electronic ID services.

The readers of our blog get a chance to buy the product without any shipping fees. While at the check out on enter the coupon code KAHVEL.

You can follow +ID on Facebook and Twitter.

  • gallardo medicus

    Should make it Android compatible via OTG. Or just Micro USB Variant.