YASMINE MUSTAFA, 32, of University City, and Anthony Gold, 49, of West Chester, co-founded Roar for Good, a University City firm aimed at empowering women with fashionable safety accessories and educational programs. The startup is part of DreamIt Athena, a female-focused entrepreneur program by DreamIt Ventures. I spoke with Mustafa, the CEO.
Q: How'd you come up with the idea for Roar?
A: A woman was raped a block from my apartment shortly after I came back from a trip to South America last year. The original idea was a wearable bracelet called the Macelet, which had Mace in it. I started talking to women and they were afraid of self-defense tools that an attacker might use against them. So I pivoted to a device that's fashionable and easy to use that has a loud alarm and light to distract a would-be attacker and message friends and family.
Q: The startup money?
A: I conceived a functional prototype and found a hardware person, who's still an adviser, to help me build it. We bootstrapped it and it cost about $5,000, and then we designed it.
Q: The biz model?
A: The device, which will be priced around $100, can be worn as a necklace, charm or key fob. It also has a magnet so you can put it on clothing. After we developed the prototype, some women wondered: Why not teach men not to attack women? We decided the wearable had a safety purpose but we could use part of our revenues to support nonprofits teaching nonviolence and promoting a culture of consent and respect.
Q: The value prop?
A: We're building a better mousetrap. Women might carry pepper spray, but they're averse to using it because they don't want to be in combat with somebody. Our device doesn't require that kind of engagement but it's still a deterrent. We also have a mobile app that sends you a push notification to be more vigilant if you're in an area that's a hot zone for harassment.
Q: Are there competitors? What differentiates you?
A: There are other startups in the field. We're focused more on prevention and none of the others have that or the social-impact aspect we have.
Q: What's the biggest challenge facing Roar for Good?
A: I thought our target market would be universities. We know that women are assaulted on campuses, and colleges are skittish about working with us because they see it as admitting that campuses aren't necessarily safe.
Q: What's next?
A: We got $25,000 from DreamIt and want to raise $50,000 for a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Our target market now is sororities and fraternities. We're going directly to students.