Where it all began
For the co-founder of Safe Amigos, Finbarr McCarthy, the journey began around 2009.
He was in Liffey Valley Shopping Centre in Dublin with his wife and four children, 3 girls and a boy. His son, the youngest child, was in a buggy at the time.
After eating in the Food Court, they descended to the ground floor in the lift. As the doors opened and they stepped out, there was a man standing there with his family.
He looked at Finbarr, his wife and their children and commented,
I see you kept going until you got a son
He got into the lift and was gone, but in that moment, Finbarr was shocked to his very core. What this man had said placed absolutely no value on the girls - only the boy. And Finbarr loves each of his children equally. How could his daughters just be discounted like that?
A colleague of Finbarr’s was working on a project to create a smartphone app that could be used to protect ‘lone workers’. The idea was that employers have a ‘Duty of Care’ to provide a safe working environment for their employees, but this is something that is extremely difficult to do when employees operate in multiple off-site locations.
The app would feature a panic button to enable a staff member to request urgent assistance, and a timer that would raise an alert if it was not cancelled.
Finbarr was asked to review the app and the business model. Naturally he brought the prototype app home and showed it to his wife who asked if it could be used to help protect the children. The answer was unfortunately not for many reasons, but Finbarr realised that a complete redesign would provide an opportunity to address the issue of lone worker safety, but would also help to protect children, women, and men too.
Research, Research, Research
Maynooth University students on the Corporate Entrepreneurship module in the Business Degree, and students on the Masters in Marketing undertook extensive research into the business proposition as part of their coursework. In return, they had a real live case study to work on and access to the co-founder of the business.
Athlone Instititue of Technology undertook software research into specific aspects of the service.
One of Finbarr’s daughters came up with the name Safe Amigos…and a business was born.