Meet The Founders of HERO
By all accounts Jennifer, Liana and Ilana are just like other young women their age. They're thriving students who are actively involved in school extracurriculars. They’re also, like all of their peers, coming of age in an era when movements like Time’s Up and #MeToo have been thrust into the national and international dialogue. In the wake of these movements, they've been inspired and encouraged to take action by addressing a core issue for women - safety.
These budding entrepreneurs have dedicated their summer to tackling the issue of safety for women head on by developing HERO, a line of button-activated, fashionable smart jewelry made to contact help in an emergency situation. That's right, with the seamless touch of a button embedded in your jewlery, you can trigger a call for help. If they remain persistent, they could undoubtedly revolutionize the entire wearable tech industry. And they are well on their way. They've received a contingent investment of $50,000 and there are no signs of them slowing down.
What they are seeking to do - innovate in the wearable tech industry that, according to Forbes, is expected to be worth $34 billion by 2020 - is no small feat, but they're determined to drive change and keep people safe. Summer vacation 2018 has suddenly taken on a whole new meaning and purpose for these young entrepreneurs, as they've been actively working on prototypes and securing funding.
Faalta sat down with Jennifer, Liana and Ilana to learn more about their journey to founding HERO, their motivations and getting their perspective on leadership and teamwork. They have learned early on that a deeper connection to an idea and work can trigger innovation. This level of commitment is also visible in their dedication to each other. They revealed that "teamwork is key to success" and that "the basis for a good company is trust and cooperation".
What’s been the team's process for taking your vision and making HERO into the actual platform it is now?
HERO: We have had help from a great set of advisors that guide us with tips based on their own experiences and education. We have learned from our past presentations, and use trial and error to keep improving both our product and revenue model. We have received invaluable advice from the people we have pitched to, and really believe that these people have been key to getting our vision to where it is today.
How do you balance being students and entrepreneurs?
HERO: All three of us have participated in many extra-curriculars in the past, which have given us the skills to use our limited time as efficiently as possible. Our work as entrepreneurs has required us to broaden this skill and balance our time even more; however, it does also mean that we must give up these other extracurriculars and sports to make time for our homework.
Female founders have cited a lack of available mentors or advisors as holding them back. Have you found this to be a challenge?
HERO: Thankfully, this hasn’t been much of a challenge for us. We have a well-rounded board of advisors including corporate and IP lawyers, strong female entrepreneurs, hardware engineers, etc. Our strategy for getting these incredible mentors is simple- we reach out to anyone and everyone that we believe would benefit the company, so that if even only a fraction of them respond, those people are able to contribute amazing advice and assistance.
What are some of your motivators that have propelled you and helped you push against being risk averse?
HERO: As high schoolers, this entire journey has been a huge risk for us. We have to risk our GPAs and social lives in order to work the long hours required to run a business. The main factor that has allowed us to take such risks is our passion for HERO. This problem [of safety] is one that we and the people we love experience constantly, so we are driven to find the solution. This immense desire to improve our lives as well as the lives of women worldwide has allowed us to be such risk-takers. This stereotype of women being risk averse has motivated us as well. We’ve received feedback from many influencers and peers, all of whom have told us how inspired they are by our journey as young, female entrepreneurs entering a field largely dominated by corporate giants. These responses have really shown us how important it is that we as women work to defy stereotypes, and we hope to continue inspiring other young women across the globe.
Perhaps one of the most important skills of all is the ability to navigate obstacles. How have you learned to tackle issues head on?
HERO: The main skill necessary for solving these problems is cooperation. We have consistently found that, as cliché as it sounds, teamwork is the key to success. When we all work together and contribute our different perspectives and minds, we are able to solve almost any problem that comes our way. We truly believe that the basis of a good company is trust and cooperation, a belief that we exemplify in the way we solve our problems.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
HERO: The best piece of advice we’ve ever received is to connect to what you’re doing. When we first began this journey, we decided to focus on a problem we experienced daily, something that we connected to and felt passionate about. Feeling a deep connection and zeal for your work is necessary to really enjoy it, as without this connection it would be impossible to do well in your work.
What does leadership mean to you?
HERO: Leadership to us means the responsibility we each take to each other, our team, and the consumers. We believe that a true leader is able to compromise and integrate everyone’s great ideas, skills that all of us have been continuously growing and nurturing throughout this journey.