Jackie Ros is the cofounder and CEO of Revolar.
The statistics of sexual assault in America are disturbing. Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. One out of every six American women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. A majority of sexual assaults occur at or near the victims’ home. The good thing is that sexual violence has fallen by half in the last 20 years. We still have a long fight ahead of us, taking some cases all the way to the Supreme Court. When that doesn’t work, we can count on some of the latest and greatest in the field of technology to guide us another way.
“It is very exciting to build a product that brings safety and peace of mind to so many different types of people,” Jackie Ros, founder and CEO of Revolar, said. The tiny wearable device can have a friend virtually walk you home at the touch of a button, make your phone ring, excuse yourself from uncomfortable situations or can send for help in your time of need. “We are just a passionate group of people who want to build technology that is more empathetic, bringing awareness and support to people.”
Founded in 2012, Revolar, a Spanish word meaning to “take flight again,” is an ode to survivors developed by the Florida native in Denver, Colorado after her sister became a victim of assault. Looking for a partner, Ros teamed up with cofounder Andrea Perdomo, who could relate to the cause. Perdomo’s family moved to the United States from Columbia after her grandmother was kidnapped for eight months, leaving both women wondering what they could do to prevent tragedies like this from happening to someone else.
Here is how the small gadget works.
Choosing from the Revolar Classic ($59.99) or Revolar Instinct ($79.99), it uses Bluetooth capabilities to connect to your phone, Revolar lets you build custom messages. A press and hold one time sends a snapshot of your location and check in message. A rapid double press sends out a “yellow alert” or a virtual walk home. Her team came up with this through interviews of real assault. “Survivors would say my instinct was telling me something was wrong but I didn’t want to cry wolf, “Ros said. “We want people to find a way to get out of these situations early.” That interview is what inspired the name of the startups newest product, Revolar Instinct. Three or more presses will send out a “red alert” which automatically sends for help but since users can customize their messages, the alert can be used for any reason.
Ros and her team of 21 are working with some heavy investors to make this product come to life. For the first two years, Ros was solely depending on her teaching salary to get Revolar off the ground. “Luckily we met our investors pretty early on,” Ros chuckled. “We met with the Foundry Group, the investors in Fitbit, and they loved our product right away and they have been with us since the beginning.” Gaining $3 million in seed capital, sales soared after the company joined the Target TechStars business accelerator. They also participated in successful campaigns such as Indiegogo, a 30-day campaign in which Ros and her team successfully sold 3,000 units with very little funds.
She also has recruited some top-notch tech executives to work with her like newly appointed CEO Brian Thomas. The former CEO at Otter Box oversaw the phone case brand from 2012 to 2014, bringing waterproof and drop proof technology to the Revolar brand. Talk about a Cinderella story for a good cause. But Ros says that’s not always the case for startups. She wants tech entrepreneurs, especially women, to admit when things aren’t going right and understand that sometimes, it’s okay to say no. “A lot of times in the early stages, you feel desperate and you want to say yes to something,” Ros says. “But you have to know what’s right for you, your team and your mission.”
Revolar is now focused on getting into major retail stores such as Target, eBags, Amazon, Bestbuy.com as well as a pilot with T-Mobile which launched on June 14.