Tell us about Revolar.
If you need me, I’ll be there. It’s the implicit promise we make to everyone we love. And that promise is the reason my team and I built Revolar. Revolar is a discreet wearable that anyone can use to let family and friends know where they are, and that they need help, at the push of a button. I started Revolar because my little sister was assaulted twice before the age of 17, but I kept working on Revolar, because so many people spoke up and told us how they could use our technology. I’ve realized our impact could be even greater than we originally anticipated. For example, we've had deaf and blind people reach out because they said our technology could help their feeling of safety, as well. We’ve heard from women who faced stalkers and felt like they had no recourse. And both male and female survivors of assault have told us that our intervention would have made a difference.
How did you start Revolar?
Roughly, naively, and with tons of energy! My cofounder, Andrea and I, moved in together because we knew with working part-time jobs to pay the bills, we wouldn’t have the time or energy to meet each other. To give us as much time together as possible, we thought our living room would make a great office. It was incredibly hard in the beginning and we are still under a massive learning curve but in 18 months we raised 3.5 million, had a successful Kickstarter campaign, grew our team to 21, and launched Revolar nationwide at Brookstone.
What is your hope for Revolar?
Our mission at Revolar is to make it as easy for you to live your authentic life. It’s hard to be happy and pursue happiness if you don’t feel safe and comfortable. Our technology seeks to empower you to feel confident to adventure, try new things, and meet new people. Life is such a gift, but my dad passing when I was 16 taught me to not waste time being anyone other than you. But after what happened with my sister, she no longer felt safe to be herself, and I no longer felt safe to be myself. Pursuit of happiness is only possible if you feel safe to put yourself out there. My hope for Revolar is to fulfill our mission to every person who gives us a chance.
So, you've come to Minneapolis to be part of Techstars. What is it like being part of Techstars?
I love Techstars. I wish I could stay here forever. I wrote a blog about this the last time we went through Techstars Boulder 2015, but not being from the tech world (I formerly was a teacher with Teach For America and worked in politics) I felt like I had discovered a new world. I literally felt like Hermione (raised a muggle) discovering the magical wizarding world existed. It’s a fun, collaborative environment, that makes it safe to fail and thus make progress rapidly. It can be disorienting but overwhelming I’m grateful for the opportunities and friendships created.
What did you learn from your Kickstarter campaign?
Everything is way more expensive then you originally plan for and virality (blind hope) is not a strategy. It taught me that a good idea is not enough. You have to execute and hustle like crazy and it will take months of prep to pull that off. Amazing experience and I’m forever grateful for our early Kickstarter backers. They are the heroes that helped bring Revolar to life.
Do you have advice for women starting their own company or building a product?
Be confident, but respectful. There is a right way to be heard and a wrong way. Keep politely advocating. Sheer persistence is a thing, but it’s only effective if you do it with respect and a sense of humor. Also, admit when you’re wrong. So few people are good at doing that but it’s a great way to build trust and make it clear it’s a safe space to fail. I fail all the time, it’s the recovery that counts.
What can we do to help Revolar?
Every product decision we have made has come from directly listening to Revolarians (our customers and fans!). Please join in the conversation and let’s work together so that we are all safe to be ourselves!