In 2020, Harish Kolli, a highschool junior from Austin, Texas, was scrolling by way of TikTok when he got here throughout a viral development. The viral TikTok development inspired ladies to avoid wasting movies with pretend conversations to make use of when feeling unsafe (for instance: when feeling uncomfortable in an Uber). These movies would have an individual speaking to you as in the event that they knew you and have been anticipating to see you quickly with a view to dissuade potential harassers.
Kolli later realized that what made the movies so common and useful was their preventative and discreet nature. Greater than 80% of harassment crimes are dedicated by somebody the recipient is aware of, so individuals typically don’t really feel snug calling the police or utilizing deterrents comparable to pepper spray. Understanding simply how essential these underlying ideas are, Harish determined to create an improved, user-friendly resolution that deters harassers earlier than they escalate their conduct. Not lengthy after, he met his teen co-founders, Mahi Ravi and Kaitlin Tan at a summer time entrepreneur incubator program.
They created Guardial, a personal-safety app that permits customers to set off an incoming simulated telephone name that acts as a deterrent, each time they need. This name has a practical caller-ID show display, a well-recognized ringtone, and audio with dialogue that deters, comparable to “I’ve your location, see you quickly.” Moreover, color-coded buttons throughout the simulated name enable customers to contact assist by way of providers comparable to 911 and to document audio or video.
Regardless of the necessity for this app, the journey to convey it to shoppers hasn’t been straightforward. “As highschool college students constructing a startup, we didn’t have entry to many assets,” Kolli mentioned. ”We needed to educate ourselves abilities like app growth and UI/UX design utilizing instruments like InVision and Figma.” Together with a steep studying curve, the early days required quite a lot of time and power. Harish and his co-founders interviewed their goal market, younger ladies, to raised perceive ache factors and get suggestions from Guardial’s early adopters and testers, who mentioned they discovered the know-how easy and straightforward to make use of.
In 2021, Kolli and Guardial skilled their first success once they posted surveys in ladies’s on-line security boards and obtained overwhelming constructive suggestions with over 350 survey responses. Not lengthy after, the Guardial staff obtained $6,400 in equity-free funding from an investor who believed within the staff, their app, and the issue they have been making an attempt to resolve. Whereas Guardial isn’t the primary personal-safety app, its method is to be extra proactive and deter potential harassers, somewhat than merely offering a technique to contact assist after issues start.
The pandemic gave Kolli extra time to work on Guardial. Now not needing to attend in-person college, the Guardial staff had extra flexibility with their schedule. Kolli made it a precedence to learn articles, watch movies, and join with different entrepreneurs to discover ways to greatest function and develop Guardial.
In January 2022, the staff obtained nice information. They have been chosen as one among 5 finalists on the SXSW EDU Scholar Startup Competitors powered by my group, WIT, which helped the finalist groups with three months of teaching. This gave them the chance to pitch their enterprise from a stage at one of the prestigious conferences on the earth. It was a milestone second for the Guardial Workforce because it was the primary time that they had pitched Guardial in particular person. The chance validated their exhausting work and supplied them a platform to showcase their firm, and gave them alternatives to progress their journeys as entrepreneurs. The staff not solely benefited from the prospect to pitch at SXSW EDU, however the convention supplied them networking alternatives, workshops, mentorship classes, and extra.
“We had lots of people come as much as us and inform us how highly effective our pitch was and the way essential they thought our app was,” Kolli mentioned afterward. “Having these real interactions with individuals post-pitch made us need to work even more durable. One other factor I discovered was the significance of collaboration over competitors — everybody can win and really feel fulfilled if they’re centered on uplifting one another.”
Not too long ago Guardial began working to launch their new model in app shops. The overview course of delivered to gentle technical points that the staff is resolving to enhance the know-how. Kolli defined, “We aren’t giving up and can proceed to iterate our app design so Guardial shall be obtainable for all to make use of.” The staff believes this persistence will repay and save lives.
To get notified when Guardial turns into obtainable in app shops, click on right here. To be taught extra take a look at @guardialco on social media.