Guard Llama entered the Shark Tank in Season 8 with their personal security app that allows users to press a button to connect to an emergency dispatcher. Prior to entering the Tank, they had 5,000 users.
We interviewed former roommates at Northern Illinois University, Joe Parisi and Nick Nevarez, who came up with idea after a classmate was murdered on campus. “We were appalled that the woman couldn’t seek help when her phone was with her during the emergency and decided we needed to develop a solution,” Parisi said.
Here’s what else they told us about…
How It Works
Parisi: Press the button on the device twice. The device sends a Bluetooth signal to the Guard Llama app on your phone, alerting our Emergency Dispatch Center. Guard Llama sends your GPS location, photo, and medical information to the Emergency Dispatch Center. Our dispatchers will also alert anyone you have on your friends and family contact list. Police are dispatched. Because they have your exact location within nine feet and know what you look like, they can find you up to three times faster than if you’d called 9-1-1 directly.
How the Idea Came To Be
Parisi: The co-founders and I both witnessed two very impactful criminal experiences while in college at NIU which inspired us to develop Guard Llama. We realized there was a need for a personal safety device that could solve the shortcomings of cell phone-based 9-1-1 help.
Advice for Future ‘Tank’ Contestants
Nevarez: I am based in DC where the open casting was located. Many industry friends reached out to ask if I would be going in to pitch. I had just recently signed on with the co-founders of Guard Llama and so it was the perfect time for me to go in and pitch on the brand’s behalf! Two weeks after the audition we found out that Guard Llama was moving on to the next phase. We continued knocking out all the deliverables the producers asked of us until we received the exciting news in September of 2016 that we’d be shooting.
Pros & Cons to Running a Business in Chicago
Parisi: Honestly I can only think of pros – the Midwest is known for the friendly nature in which people treat each other. This attitude carries over into the business world and in turn provides a great community of people and resources. Chicago has great tech talent and no shortage of investors, so it’s been a really great city for us to grow Guard Llama in.
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