By Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller
It is a tragic truth that mass shootings have become part of life in the United States. No one knows this better than Paul Eckert and Robert Austin. The law enforcement veterans have decades of experience providing active shooter training and other tactical safety courses.
The men teach variations of “run-hide-fight” techniques but know that is not enough when faced with a life-threatening situation. “We tell people to use their best judgment,” Austin said, “but we know in an emergency situation, for the human brain, there really is no such thing as best judgment, usually.”
In 2018, Eckert and Austin decided to address the problem of mass shootings with technology and launched SafePro Technologies.
The Whitewater-based company created Soteria, an emergency evacuation system that uses an outsourced shot detection system to determine the location of the threat, coupled with proprietary ceiling-mounted integrated laser projection to alert building occupants of the threat and then guide them towards safety. The company has four U.S. patents for technologies related to this product. While designed with shooters in mind, the product also works for deadly chemicals, fires and other dangerous situations.
According to Austin, “When we think of an active shooter, we think of school shootings, but that’s not really all that accurate anymore. 50% of shootings happen in commerce and workplace settings.”
SafePro has partnered with a company that has developed shot-detection technology that senses the “ballistic waves coming off a bullet in the air,” according to Eckert. Once the bullet has been detected, the information is relayed to the Soteria system, which then projects overhead lighting that leads people in the building towards safety. Green arrows guide people in the building to safe exits and red Xs prevent people from running toward danger. Soteria will also let people know when the best option for them is to shelter in place.
“Indecision really costs us. It stops us from making rational decisions,” Austin said. “This device makes decisions immediately and intuitively for the individual. That is what makes it so special.”
The bootstrapped company is in need of additional capital to bring the product to market. Certified as a Qualified New Business Venture, SafePro is actively seeking funding opportunities. Part of that strategy is applying for pitch contests and business accelerators that provide capital in addition to mentorship. Funding will be used to complete a successful pilot of the product, and to begin manufacturing the product.
“No one’s doing what we’re doing. No one’s really fighting back against the problem. We have something so unique and important here. We are just so excited to get it out there. I’m hoping to get this to market very soon to start saving lives,” Eckert said.To learn more about SafePro Technologies, connect with the company here.