In this day and age personal safety is a very important issue to many people. There are a million different factors that play into a persons personal safety. Did you just get attacked by someone? Are you feeling unsafe because someone is following you? Are you diabetic and feeling light headed? Are you allergic to bees and just got stung?
Any of these situations, and countless others, could result in the need to make a distress call to someone, and time is almost always of the essence. Well Robb Monkman and Grant Wallace, two Seattle based entrepreneurs with backgrounds in safety and communication have created a startup called React Mobile. React Mobile functions as a distress or SOS signal right in your pocket.
With React Mobile both Monkman and Wallace figured out that the best safety device, and distress signal device was already in most people’s pockets. Of course that device is their smartphone. React Mobile is an iOS and Android app with three distinct safety abilities; alerting via email, text and social networks; GPS location sharing; and emergency reporting.
We got a chance to talk with Monkman. Check out our interview below:
What is React Mobile?
React Mobile, LLC (React) was established in 2011 with the singular goal to help people in times of distress. Our goal is to continuously improve the safety of our schools, neighborhoods, workplaces and communities. We do that through our easy-to-use mobile application for iPhone and Android devices that focuses around three core capabilities: SOS alerting via email, text and social networks, GPS location sharing, and emergency reporting.
React Mobile can be used as a way to monitor your loved ones, employees, pets and personal assets. When combined with our geo-fencing capabilities and a user web-portal, React Mobile is the complete safety enhancement solution for families, employees and schools. Unlike other personal safety products such as pepper spray, guns, tasers, etc., React Mobile, is a safety enhancement product that cannot be used against a victim.
In layman’s terms, how does it work?
One of the tools that a student, parent, or service professional almost always has at their disposal is their cell phone or PDA. The React Mobile app turns your cell phone or PDA into an SOS lifeline and also allows users to report incidents and criminal activity. With the push of a button an SOS alert with your GPS coordinates is sent to select emergency contacts via SMS/text, email and an alert can also be posted to Facebook and Twitter.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Robb Monkman is co-founder of React Mobile LLC. He has over 8 years of marketing and management experience at multiple start-ups. For the past 4 years Monkman has served as the Marketing Director for, CoCo Communications, and its subsidiary, SafetyMesh Technologies, marketing advanced networking and tactical emergency communications software to the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). With experience launching multiple products, Monkman, has served as the founder of a food, nightlife, and event web site and also as one of the founders of an online social network targeting non-profits. Monkman received his B.A. in Business from Loyola Marymount University and an M.B.A. from Seattle University.
Grant Wallace is co-founder of React Mobile LLC. He brings over a decade of experience in communications and systems design with the last seven years focused primarily on first responder and public safety markets. Wallace joins React Mobile from CoCo Communications where he serves as a Senior Engineer. He has a Masters degree and is a member with the IEEE. He also holds a number of industry technology certificates from Cisco, Microsoft, and others. His primary responsibilities are to oversee and steer the development and technologies used for React’s line of personal e-safety products.
Where are you based?
We are based in Seattle, Washington.
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
Seattle has always been an entrepreneurial environment. From the big companies that got their start here like Starbucks, Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon to the thriving community of smaller startups that are making headlines, there is inspiration here on all levels. It’s exciting to see and be a part of it.
How did you come up with the idea for React Mobile?
Grant and I were at a conference speaking to a group of Canadian first responders and one of the topics at the conference centered on improving campus/university safety. That night we came up with the idea for React Mobile as a more effective solution to campus blue light emergency phones/buttons. We wanted to develop a simple app that would allow students and faculty to reach out to campus security if they were ever in trouble.
How did you come up with the name?
We wanted a name that could apply to several target markets while keeping the message of safety clear. Our name implies that a user is reacting to an emergency, whether it’s on behalf of a friend who issued an SOS alert or to danger around them. We want people to be aware of the dangers that exist, but to use our product to react in an effective way to enhance both their personal safety and the safety of the community.
What problem(s) does React Mobile solve?
Here are some scenarios that React solves:
What do you do when you aren’t being conveniently assaulted near a blue light emergency phone?
What do you do when you aren’t able to speak to a 911 dispatcher?
What if you use your phone to call for help but that specific person doesn’t answer?
What if you call for help but get cut off and no one knows where you’re located?
What if you witness dangerous or criminal activity and need to quickly report something to trusted contacts?
What do you do if you need to discreetly and silently let other know that you are in danger?
React Mobile a safety enhancement product allows users to send an SOS alert with their location to a wide network of self selected emergency contacts in addition to calling the authorities. React allows users to call for help when they are not conveniently located near a blue light emergency phone/button. React allows users to call for help when they are unable to speak to a dispatcher.
What’s your secret sauce?
GPS is really our secret sauce. We actively obtain a users’ last known GPS location to ensure that if something does happen, and a signal is lost, responders can send assistance to the GPS coordinates we provide.
What’s one dilemma you’ve encountered in the startup process?
Marketing a security enhancement product can be difficult. On one hand you want to make people aware of the dangers that exist out there – on the other hand this has the potential to create fear in peoples’ minds. One thing we definitely don’t want to do is to scare people into buying our products. We are very careful in our marketing and always try to provide useful safety tips to our audience. By providing useful tips and recommendations we hope to provide people with positive, proactive steps that they can take to enhance their safety and the safety of their loved ones.
What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?
When we first started React I was still working full-time which was, at times, overwhelming. It was a big challenge to be working two full-time jobs but I have recently been devoting all of my time to React and am excited to have all my energy focused on this app and the business.
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
I am fortunate to have several mentors in my life. Throughout my professional career I have developed and nurtured several mentor relationships with leaders from the cellular, software, social media and government industries. In addition, React Mobile, has a strong board of advisors that are helping to steer our growth and development.
What’s next for React Mobile?
There are a lot of really exciting things going on right now. We will soon be releasing a new premium feature called “follow-me” that will allow users to create a safety net of contacts that they can send “Follow me” alerts to. Users can then have trusted contacts follow them in real-time if they feel unsafe but don’t want to issue a full blown SOS alert. We anticipate that the Follow-me feature will be released in October.
Nibletz is the voice of startups “everywhere else” here are more startup stories from “everywhere else”