Some wearable devices focus on simplification–this one focuses squarely on safety. ROAR for Good is a startup that has not only created a wearable, but also integrated one-for-one and donating to an educational cause into it’s business model. We got ROAR for Good’s co-founder Yasmine Mustafa to fill us in.
Describe ROAR for Good.
At ROAR for Good we’re on a mission to empower women to live their lives boldly and without fear – using our fashionable self-defense wearable technology. Our current product line incorporates a trendsetting jewelry piece coupled with a mobile app for crowd sourced incident sharing and awareness.
Our dream is that one day women won’t have to alter their lifestyle, modify their behavior, or carry self-defense devices to protect themselves. We’re committed to redefining the norm – and believe that it’s possible.
What inspired you to start ROAR for Good?
Almost two years ago, I decided to take a 6 month solo trip across South America. The trip was amazing, but unfortunately, while I was there I kept meeting other women who had been victims of sexual assault. Then when I came back to Philadelphia, a woman was brutally raped a block from my apartment. It opened my eyes to the prevalence of violence against women. Right now in the US, one in four college women will be sexually assaulted. One in five women will experience rape or attempted rape. One in three teens will be a victim of dating violence. The stats are horrifying and shocking.
I founded ROAR because I want to diminish those attacks – both in the short and long-term. Wearable technology has brought innovation to the self-defense space for the first time in over 70 years.
Tell us about your product.
We’re developing fashionable jewelry with embedded logic that when activated (by pressing a button on the jewelry) sounds an alarm and flashes a light with the goal of using the element of surprise to distract or disorient an attacker. It then connects to your phone and sends text messages to nearby friends/family with your location and in conjunction, it calls an emergency number such as 911 or campus police.
It’s integrated with a safety application that informs users of unsafe areas using crowd sourced safety tips and acts as a virtual bodyguard when traveling (e.g. leaving the bar late at night and heading back to dorm room).
In talking to thousands of women, I learned that they found existing solutions (like pepper spray, tasers, and knives) combative and aggressive. We intentionally designed our safety devices for women so they aren’t intimidated by them and we made them into jewelry first so they want to wear them and have it readily on-hand.
What sets ROAR for Good apart from other wearable companies?
There are other companies that are making safety-focused wearable technology as well. ROAR is different in that we don’t just want to put a band-aid on the problem. We want to get to the root of the violence itself. Rather than put the onus on women to be protecting themselves, we want to dramatically decrease and end violence against them.
ROAR for Good partners with nonprofits that teach empathy, respect, and consent to young boys and girls. Empathy has decreased by 50% over the last 10 years and these type of programs have been proven to combat that. This is something we’re extremely excited by as it can reduce assaults and transform societal views.
In addition, ROAR is developing a one-for-one program in which, for each device purchased, one is provided at cost to non-profits supporting vulnerable women.
What has been one of the most challenging parts of getting started? How did you overcome this and what did you learn?
My co-founder and I have built a few companies before, and we both have been long supporters of women empowerment. But, this is our first company exclusively focused on the social mission of eliminating violence against women. While the violence stats are awful and empathy rates in society have been declining, we know that the work we are doing will make a difference.
Not a day passes that we don’t hear from someone sharing a horrific story from their past and their desire for the ROAR solutions to be available in the market. That “societal pull” motivates us every second to keep moving forward and pursuing our goals. We like to say that we know we’re successful when there is no longer a need for what we are developing. In a sense, we want to rapidly precipitate our own obsolescence.
Where can we buy your product, when is it available, and what is the cost?
The product will be available for sale starting in November 2015, but the best way to secure the product for a discounted price is through our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign which will be launched in the middle of June. To be notified of the launch, sign up for our monthly email list on our website.
What are the companies past achievements to date?
We’re honored to have been recognized for our work these past few months. We won first place at Temple University’s Innovative Idea Competition. Following which, we were accepted into the prestigious DreamIt Ventures Accelerator Program. We subsequently won Temple University’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl Business Competition, Company to Watch for PACT Enterprise Awards, Featured on ABC News, Tech Cocktail – Philadelphia’s Hottest Startup – Reader’s Choice. We were also featured on the World’s Finest radio program and El Zol Spanish radio station. And we publicly unveiled our prototype jewelry and mobile app at the Philadelphia Entrepreneur Expo this past April. We also established partnerships with Safecity, Sayfty, and Women Against Abuse as of this month.
What can we expect next from ROAR?
ROAR will be launching our Indiegogo campaign in the middle of June. From there we will be working hard on outreach and events. To learn more about ROAR, sign up for our newsletter on our website.
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