The death of George Floyd is once again front and center in the news this week, as former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial began yesterday in Minnesota. It’s a reminder of the importance of video in such cases: One of the first witnesses of the day was a bystander who filmed the events leading up to and after Floyd’s death from her phone.
The forthcoming Cavalry app aims to be another tool for citizens seeking to protect each other and connect to resources that can hold authorities accountable.
Aiming for a spring launch, Cavalry is dedicated to keeping people, and especially people of color, safe during encounters with law enforcement. It includes features such as video recording, location tracking, emergency alerts to loved ones, incident reports and information about civil rights lawyers.
The company is cofounded by CEO Arie Mangrum, who is based in Maryland near D.C., and led by a host of Philadelphia-area execs, including Director of Positive Engagement Dr. Robert Lay, Director of People & Culture Trevor Hale and Director of Organizational Effectiveness and Corporate Responsibility Kyle Whitemire. Civil rights attorney and Temple University professor Timothy Welbeck is also involved.
Below, Mangrum answered a few Qs about the app’s goals, team and ongoing development.
When was the company founded?
What does your company do?
Our mobile app is built on three features — helping to keep users safe before, during and after police encounters. After George Floyd, our team was inspired to create something to help curb further incidents and keep black and brown people safe using technology. It is both a shield and a sword, made to keep users safe and provide a new level of accountability for law enforcement.
What was the inspiration for creating it?
That was very organic. My cofounders and I were talking on Zoom as we typically did, checking in on each other as we couldn’t hang out during the pandemic. Usually, this consisted of subjects like “How have you been? What’s new in your world? What TV/movies/video games, are you playing/anticipating, recommend me something, etc.”
In May of 2020, George Floyd happened, so of course conversation swung towards it. We eventually talked about how all of us (as black men) have had scary and potentially dangerous interactions with police. Seeing that injustice, we also saw the people who responded in very powerful and impactful ways and we decided we needed to do something, too.
As I worked in product for an app development company, I threw out the idea of building an app. I also knew there were at least a few black designers and developers at my company and thought “just maybe” I can get them on board to help us at least design it — then perhaps down the line we can pay for someone to develop it. Well, we were able to find an incredible designer AND two developers.
We started to have biweekly and weekly meetings to talk strategy and figure out the ideal functions that this app would need to keep people safe and add a new level of accountability for law enforcement. With everyone working for free and in a volunteer fashion (including police officers and lawyers as consultants), we’re finally close to launching.
How far along is the app?
The app is scheduled to launch in the spring. We have a lead UX/UI designer (designs are 95% complete), two senior developers and an intern right now.
What is the tech stack?
It is built completely in React Native so that we can launch for both iOS and Android simultaneously, and likely leveraging AWS for cloud integration & storage.
Why is your team interesting?
Our team is entirely black, and our core team has been friends for years. The idea came completely organically and grew from there. We all are motivated by the same passions — to save lives and help reshape the future.
What can your startup journey teach other founders?
One, it takes all types. Our team is from various backgrounds with a wide array of skills, but we all contribute to the company. Two, if you believe in your idea, keep looking for the right people to work with you.
P.S. We’re trying something new here at Technical.ly to make sure we’re covering the newest startups as they arise: a public form to collect the basic details about young tech companies in our markets, from idea stage to growth stage. Launching a startup we should know about? Filling out this form won’t guarantee coverage, but it will help us meet more of the companies we should be reporting on: