Since ROAR for Good’s founding in 2014, the wearable safety device company has been through a few changes.
CEO Yasmine Mustafa first founded the company with the Athena, a personal safety device for women who wanted a way to alert emergency contacts when they feel unsafe. At the end of 2019, the company discontinued the heralded product amid a company pivot to B2B, now applying the Athena’s technology in the hospitality space for a new product.
It was the hospitality market that ultimately checked the boxes — financially and from a social impact stance — by offering housekeepers a tool that will make them feel protected against sexual harassment or assault, a rampant problem the industry faces, cofounder Mustafa told Technical.ly last year. The tool, called AlwaysOn, focused on ensuring the protection of vulnerable workers by providing the most reliable, best-of-class technology to ensure help is there when needed.
But now, as the hospitality industry is taking a hit during the coronavirus pandemic, Mustafa chatted with Technical.ly about how she’s thinking the device could be used in the healthcare space. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Technical.ly: How has the pandemic made you think about AlwaysOn? Could it be used in other industries?
Yasmine Mustafa: The bad news is just the uncertainty of knowing when hotels are coming back. We think they’ll start to rebound in Q4, but probably won’t recover until the fall of 2021, when a vaccine is widely available. People probably won’t feel safe to travel and stay in hotels until then.
What we’ve done has been very quickly adapting, every two weeks having a check-in about where we’re going next, looking at data, the number of leads. Our biggest focus is looking at other opportunities where our solution can help with the crisis, so we’ve been experimenting a lot. We’ve been focusing more on healthcare because of COVID.
What we know is we have a wireless call button, so that if you are in trouble, or you want to summon someone, we can triangulate you and have someone come to you inside an open campus facility. An idea initially came from someone setting up inside field hospitals and the idea that traditionally there’s call systems wired into a hospitals, but you don’t have that inside of stadiums, convention centers and tents. So we started talking to a few folks about how our solution could be pivoted. It’s better than some existing solutions that involve giving patients flip phones. But we also identified that the timing is off, the peaks are happening and the solution they have is good enough to get by.
Right now, we’re putting the project on temporary hold, we believe there will be some more disaster relief funding, so we’re going to work with FEMA to see if we can be part of their stockpile eventually.
What’s the solution you’ve more recently thought about for healthcare?
More recently, we’ve been looking into working as a nurse safety solution. [The majority] of nurses are female, [and] they are more likely to be attacked than police officers and prison guards at work. They are being spit on; they are attacked by patients, the patients’ families. They see people at the worst time of their lives. People get emotional, and they bear the brunt of that.
Taking a look at all of this, it’s very similar to how it happens in hospitality. There’s at-risk women at work, there’s some kind of requirement that requires panic buttons, so we are currently looking for a hospital pilot. We did identify that veterans hospitals have higher incidence of assaults, and so we’re talking to them and other local hospitals.
Right now we’re looking for product validation. We have verbal validation after talking to nurses and hospitals, but we want that product validation. It looks like we wouldn’t have to change anything about the product. Everything that housekeepers wanted, nurses want. The biggest thing they want is peace of mind — that’s what housekeepers wanted, too. They want to know if something happens, they can push a button and someone will come to help them.
So, what do next steps look like?
We are looking for a hospital pilot. We are offering a pretty good deal for it, everything at cost, and they would be basically our flagship pilot, where we could work with them on and make our flagship location.
Was healthcare initially an idea for the product?
When it was Athena, we did have a lot of nurses wearing it. We had some nurses take selfies with it on their badge or uniforms. Since we pivoted to B2B, once every month or so, we would get an inquiry from a healthcare facility. We were seeing a lot of leads, but our main focus was hotels. But it’s always been interesting, as a result of COVID, we’re spending more time looking into it, seeing what other opportunities might work out while the hotel industry is quiet.
Healthcare centers and hospitals interested in working with ROAR for Good can reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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