In the United States, every 98 seconds a person is assaulted. One in six women are victims of rape or attempted rape in the United States. The statistics prove the harsh reality for women, that one can never be too safe when visiting a friend or commuting late to and from work.
The ideal situation would be that anywhere you go, you can feel safe by having a community of people that are “virtually” ready to help. Moreover, knowing about previously “red flagged” places to help people navigate unsafe areas would be ideal. Furthermore, what if you could help other people during an unsafe situation without harming your own safety?
This is why we decided to interview Marc-Johann Kavantsaari, CEO & Founder of GuardianX — who happens to be building the future of personal and crowd-sourced safety.
Q: What is your background and what is Guardian X?
“I’m a lawyer gone startup tech entrepreneur. I graduated from the University of Helsinki Law School back in 2014. I was also working as Head of Investors at Slush in 2014 — that was prior founding GuardianX. I founded GuardianX soon after my graduation.”
GuardianX is a personal safety app that facilitates communication with your existing contacts but also utilizes peer-to-peer technology so that you can reach out to other users in the GuardianX community if you need help. When you need help, you just swipe and an alarm with your location will go to your contacts and to other community members. The app also initiates an alarm automatically if something happens to you during an active “Follow me” session.
Q: What was your motivation to start GuardianX?
“It is a combination of personal experience and the will to create a product that has an impact on people’s everyday life. We should use the tech we carry in our pockets every day to tackle the problem of personal safety.”
Some time ago Marc’s girlfriend acted as a witness in a sexual assault case in Helsinki. She was the one who intervened in the situation by calling the police. After discussing the event together, Marc realized that there were other people nearby who could have helped earlier but were not aware of the situation, as they didn’t see or hear anything. Marc’s girlfriend was the first bystander to notice the situation. This is what motivated him to take the leap into using the technology we have with us everyday to provide a solution to increase personal safety.
Q: How are Machine Learning and Big Data used in GuardianX?
“Our goal in the future is to utilize anonymous peer-to-peer data so that we can offer even more advanced features to GuardianX’ users.”
In the near future, GuardianX starts utilizing anonymous peer-to-peer data and combine that data with publicly available data, which helps GuardianX to create more advanced features for its users.
Q: How do you handle competition? Is there any?
“There are competitors. I feel that competition motivates me. What can I do differently in order to create more value to our users?”
Currently, there are some competitors for GuardianX, that are focused mainly in traditional safety panic button apps. To Marc, having competition means that there is an actual market for his product, otherwise if there was no competitors Marc would raise the question: Is there any market for my product?
Q: Do you consider there is a need for your product?
“Personal safety is one of the great challenges of the 21st century. It is a basic human right comparable to access to clean water or education.”
Personal Safety is a massive global problem that also can be seen on the statistics. For example, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) in the US, has an immense database on sexual assault statistics since 1993. According to that data, 55% of the sexual assault cases happen near the victim’s home, making it an alarming number. Having a tool like GuardianX would be of great aid in all sorts of communities where people could just swipe to ask for help and alert others.
Q: What is the most exciting part of being a CEO and what impact do you have on your team?
“I get the most excited about when we and our product interact with customers, when you see downloads coming in or when you receive feedback from customers. The customer dimension is what makes me get up from bed everyday.“
The GuardianX team is made up of 2 Developers and 2 part time members that help with operations, projects and financials. What Marc does as a CEO is to try to get the best out of everyone in the team. As a working environment, GuardianX wants to be a motivating environment. He wants to encourage people to go the extra mile and not just make their assigned tasks but to encourage them to come up with new ideas.
Q: Who keeps you motivated and who do you look up to?
“Of course there are some famous entrepreneurs. I bet many people look up to Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos who are also among my favorite role models.”
However, on a personal level, Marc looks up to his girlfriend, who is also an entrepreneur. He admires her motivation, energy, and how she has been able to build her company. She inspires him everyday with her example.
Q: What did you have to give up to become an entrepreneur?
“People usually talk about sacrifices. I would probably use the word prioritize instead.”
To Marc, time is the most valuable asset when you become an entrepreneur which of course means spending more and more time with building your company but he still believes that in this case sacrificing is not the right word to use. To him, being an entrepreneur is such a great experience that he would rather use the word “prioritize” — it’s important that you learn to prioritize your activities as an entrepreneur.
Q: What is next for GuardianX?
“We had our Nordic launch in October and official Nordic launch event Nov 6th in collaboration with Aaltoes and HEL Tech and now we are planning to expand rapidly to new markets.”
Now that their app has been released they want to scale it and achieve their mission “to enable safer and more equal communities worldwide”. Plus, they might be looking to hire more team members soon, such as Marketing Unicorns and Sales Gurus. If you wish to stay up to date with their open positions, follow them here.
GuardianX is the crowdsourced personal safety community in your smartphone. GuardianX brings friends & family, authorities and validated community members all to one platform. GuardianX enables people to feel safe anytime, anywhere. Help is always nearby. GuardianX was founded with a mission to empower people and help them create safer communities for each other. Download GuardianX for iOS or Android and join the movement.