HaloSOS uses drones and smartphones to keep you safe on campus

5 Nov 2018

Students on a campus from above. Image: HaloSOS

Our Start-up of the Week is HaloSOS, which has combined audio and video with drone technology to make university and business campuses safe.

“So far in 2018, 37 people have been shot dead in US education institutions; many others have been injured. We also know there is a serious problem with sexual and violent assault on campuses,” said HaloSOS co-founder Fiona Moloney.

“The consequences of active incidents and assault on campus are far-reaching, and HaloSOS is joining the fight to minimise the impact of these events on people’s lives.”

‘We definitely have the hipster, hacker, hustler and hound in our start-up team, and together we have a vast collective experience and expertise in the areas of finance, technology, location-based services and health’

HaloSOS provides students with a voice-activated practical solution for triggering security alerts with accurate positioning, designed to improve first responders’ reaction times, and provide audio and video via unmanned aviation vehicles (UAVs).

“Up to now, most security has been focused on physical building security with fixed cameras, but we’re bringing that closer to the mobile security team that every campus has: their students. As a people-focused personal safety business, we are redesigning the user and campus police and security interaction.”

The market

HaloSOS’s initial target market is the millions of students on campus in the US, Australia and other English-speaking countries.

Moloney said that the global safety device market is growing rapidly and that it will be worth €35bn by 2022, adding that the mass notification market will be worth more than €10bn by the same time.

The founders

“We definitely have the hipster, hacker, hustler and hound in our start-up team, and together we have a vast collective experience and expertise in the areas of finance, technology, location-based services and health,” Moloney explained.

“Liam Darling, our technical visionary, and his expertise in designing secure and stable duress systems, are core to the business.

“Richard Eberle’s background in planning, preparation and financial modelling skills has ensured a strong and robust business model.

“My background is in complex sales solutions, building and growing long-term relationships with customers, and also within the health and wellbeing industry, which for me is a huge driver in providing a solution that not only keeps people safe but also encourages them to look after their (and their communities’) wellbeing.

“As a team, we are flexible, full of integrity and are passionate about what we are doing.”

The technology

drone flying in a cloud sky.

DJI Phantom drone flying with HaloSOS technology. Image: HaloSOS

HaloSOS is the business brand that sits above a number of other branded verticals. “We have designed a platform that is easily scalable across a number of different sectors, from lone worker to corporate. Our patented solution for tracking quickly and securely, indoors and outdoors, is, we believe, unique in the market today.”

Its core technology, Invoke, tracks the location of individuals and groups of people to ensure their safety. A voice-activated smartphone app allows users to call for help by simply saying a keyword, even if an assailant has the phone.

The location of an alert can be identified either indoors or outdoors, saving valuable seconds in identifying the location of someone in crisis. Aerial drones autonomously launch to supply real-time, 360-degree, live-streaming video footage. The relative position of any threat is displayed to users along with potential escape routes.

“The ultimate goal, and this gives me goosebumps when I think about it, is to save a person’s life – that’s simply it,” Moloney said.

Who dares, sells

“Since our first lead investor invested in us, we have rapidly built to a well-defined plan of our minimum viable product, we have participated at a number of key expos in both Australia and the US, and have generated a qualified sales pipeline from that,” Moloney said. “We are about to deploy a number of trial sites.”

Achieving work-life balance and keeping healthy are key to working through the start-up challenge, said Moloney.

“No doubt we have challenges, they are there to be overcome, and wouldn’t life be dull otherwise? As a team, we embrace and love solving problems, but really so far the product design has run relatively smoothly.

“Keeping healthy and fit is really important to us as a team. Mental and physical health supersedes our longevity, and we keep a balance between working non-stop and finding time to look after the ourselves, which allows us to keep working hard. It’s a win-win, as they say.”

Vision and values

Moloney describes the start-up journey as an “exciting, creative and cortisol-driven rollercoaster ride”.

She continued: “I’m a bit of a multitasking addict anyway and so far, it’s working out. What I also love about it is, it’s filled with a variety of people, young and a lot not so young. I’m encouraged to meet many women, too, who have a collaborative and cooperative mindset, which is encouraging.

“There is tremendous support in the start-up scene. It feels a little like an extended family in some ways, and everyone I meet is focused and inspiring. We all support each other though our shared experiences.”

Moloney’s advice for fellow founders is to stay focused on values and vision. “If you start working with someone and your gut tells you they do not align [with] or share your values, move quickly, then find someone who does. This can be hard as you are super-busy with everything else, but it will pay off in the end.

“Stay focused on your values and your vision. Listen and take on board what advice people offer you. Don’t let people knock you about too much either. And remember, most of all, nothing is ever wasted.”

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years