Startup Spotlight is an ongoing series that profiles Canadian wireless and mobile technology startups.
This month, we spoke with Carlos Zamorano, Co-Founder of Be Wear. The company has a line of ‘smart fashion’ wearables that function as personal security and protection devices. Their smart accessories integrate seamlessly into a user’s everyday life, impacting areas like child safety, elder care, and personal security.
What’s your background and what inspired you to build Be Wear?
I was born in Colombia and grew up there in the 80’s which was a bit of a rough patch in the country’s history. Growing up there during that time made me very aware of personal safety at an early age.
Be Wear was born out of a desire to create a product that would help people get help when they need it most, at the touch of a button. We wanted it to be easy to use, discreet and applicable to a number of situations concerning personal safety.
Describe how your product makes an impact on personal safety?
In the event of an emergency or disaster, it can be a lot more complicated to call for help than you think. According to research, 80% of the population goes numb in an emergency, so people aren’t thinking or acting efficiently. Having to unlock your phone, find the number to dial and explain the situation is often not as straightforward as you might think.
That’s why we created Loop, our line of stylish, wearable accessories that allow you to call for help when you need it. We started by creating a ring since it minimizes the amount of movement you’d need to send a call for help. By pressing the button on the ring, you can send a text message to 5 friends or family with your exact location.
Who uses your product?
We’ve found the wearables to be applicable to many demographics. While it has obvious benefits in a climate like Colombia where incidents like kidnapping and street crime threaten personal safety on a regular basis, we’ve found applications in a country like Canada as well.
For example, people who suffer from depression and anxiety attacks report that having an open channel to a support network through the wearable is very valuable to them. Others have used it for simple things like grocery shopping – we had one elderly woman who liked to use it to signal her husband to carry in groceries from the car! In North America alone, 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted and 1 in 5 women experience severe injuries from domestic violence. Also, large companies looking to monitor the wellbeing of employees who are actively moving on the job (ie. transportation or construction industries) have applications as well.
What role did Wavefront play in your journey to where you are now?
Before I went through any of Wavefront’s programs, I thought I was ready to launch. I’m an engineer by trade and had done analysis on my own end of things. But after going through the Venture Acceleration Program, my eyes were opened to many other details I needed to consider out before going live. Most importantly was to make sure my business plan was sound and we could work towards profitability.
“The Venture Acceleration Program was extremely useful. It helped me think about all the variables I hadn’t considered and ensured a successful launch.”
We also participated in a Global Market Entry Program to Colombia in late 2016. I took part as an exhibitor at the tradeshow which was a great experience. Through this trip we met many people from government who are helping us along the way. We connected with two retailers there who are now carrying our product as a pilot.
What do you see in the future of the wearable tech in the next 5-10 years?
We will see further minimization of tech – the smaller the tech required, the more inconspicuous and effective of a personal safety device we will be able to build.
We are also seeing an evolution of smart textiles as wearables in the industry. We are in the prototype stage of developing a sensor attached to a bullet proof vest that sends a notification for help. With the evolution of smart textiles, it can further reduce the time and effort required to act in an emergency.
What advice do you have to share to another fellow entrepreneur?
My first piece of advice would be to have resilience. This should be the core of any entrepreneur. Many roadblocks and challenges will come your way and you need to keep going and have ingenuity to get through.
Secondly is to find the right team to work with, especially in the beginning. Founders most likely won’t have salaries so your core team has to be okay with that. Make sure they are providing value and be very selective in shaping the team from the get-go.
Any upcoming launches or news you’d like to share about Be Wear?
We are focused on growing new accessories in our line. With new products coming soon, we hope to start more conversations around fashion and technology. This market is growing a lot in in North America, and we hope to be at the forefront of that growth.