By Thomas Cullen,
Tech & Innovation Editor
ROBOCOPP is a small company based in Oakland, California and they produce a product called the Sound Grenade. This product is literally what it sounds like- it is a small device where you pull a tab and it makes a 120 decibel sound. This device can be used for personal protection from anything ranging from wild animals to potential attackers in public.
Q: What is the Sound Grenade?
A: It’s a tiny device that makes a loud siren. It is a button-cell battery operated device that has a pin that can be pulled in the event of an emergency.
Q: What was the inspiration for the device?
A: Sam (the CEO of ROBOCOPP) has a sister that was in college in the San Francisco area at the time. The areas surrounding her campus were not the safest areas and she was looking for a way to protect herself on her commute home from night classes. Sam tried looking for a “Life Alert” style device that could notify people of her location as well as produce a sound. He was not able to find a device that was portable for civilian use, so he decided to make a device himself. We are focusing on sound deterrents because research shows that they are effective at diffusing people that are about to commit a crime.
Q: Who is the main demographic?
A: We find that our main demographic are college students that live on campus. There are states that are introducing laws that will allow students to carry around firearms on campus as long as they are concealed. This worries campus safety departments in those states, and ROBOCOPP feels that this is a perfect opportunity to sell a non-violent means to diffuse situations and alert others of a problem. Other groups that have developed a following towards the product are hikers and hunters. It turns out sound is an effective repellent of aggressive wildlife.
Q: Do you have any competitors?
A: We tend not to focus on finding competitors. We just try to build things people can find useful in their daily life.
Q: Would you consider your company a tech startup?
A: No. We consider ourselves a small group of people building safety devices that we hope our friends and family will love.
Q: What is the structure of the company and what is the company culture like?
A: On a given day, ROBOCOPP consists of 6-8 people working in and out of the office. We care about being brutally honest to each other, camaraderie, and a winning attitude. A passive aggressive environment is not conducive to growth and productive behavior- issues between people must be dealt with immediately. Also, honesty is important so that we can determine what projects are worth pursuing and what projects are worth dropping.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 26th print edition.
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