At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, there is a desk with the words "I'm not sure this is a good idea" written on it. The early-stage startup is planning to combine pepper spray with some electronics so a potential attack victim's friends can be notified when they've had to use the defence spray to get themselves out of a bind. The company is the brainchild of two men who met at the University of Michigan and started working on the technology nine months ago.
College women between the ages of 18 and 24 are our target audience. The trend right now is angel numbers. It's an angel number that stands for protection. The name ties in well with our mission of self protection.
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The prototype it showed at the Consumer Electronics Show was a 3d printed prototype, but more of a proof of concept than a product. A plan is to include a pepper spray aerosol and a phone accessory. The device will send a message to a number of pre-defined phone numbers if the pepper spray is used.
Women carrying pepper spray devices. They are usually big, pink, and heavy. The pieces of plastic are thrown in a backpack or purse. In a time of danger, they can't get it in time, so they designed a clip that makes it easier to carry. The clip can be attached to a user's sports bra, belt, or both. It is an arm's length away and you don't have to worry about getting in a time of danger. They will have six to nine seconds of spray time, but their current location will be sent to up to 10 contacts of their choice through an app installed on their phone.
The company believes that texting the contacts is very important and that it has customer discovery interviews to back that up. It is cheaper than Flare bracelets, but a lot more expensive than Amazon charges for big, pink, and bulky pepper sprays.
We were curious to see if there was a conflict between the two men at the helm of the company.
I went through a program at the University of Michigan that lasted three to four months. We interviewed 15 or so of our target demographic every week, asking them what they like, what they don't like, why they use self-defense, and why they don't use self-defense They were asked if they looked at each other's location and if they were following each other. Customer discovery work shaped our company.
I don't think it's a bad idea for young entrepreneurs to follow their dreams, but I'm wondering if there's a market for this product given that emergency response measures built-in to phones are starting to be used more and more.
As a martial arts-trained ex-cop, I am willing to admit that it is possible that I am being blinded by privilege. Everything I know about self-defense calls for simplicity. A $7 canister of pepper spray in one hand and a phone in the other seems more reliable than a plan for a safer future outlined by the company.