Guard Llama has a simple concept — making it easier for people to call 911 during an emergency.
Now the show Shark Tank is giving the Washington, D.C.-based start-up a giant boost after its founders had a chance to pitch their product to the show’s panel of investors.
The founders of Guard Llama have already risen up through a competitive field, impressing judges at a Shark Tank casting call in Washington last year, the Washington Business Journal reported. The company’s co-founders, Joe Parisi and Nick Nevarez, met last year at a conference for start-ups. Parisi had created the product, and Nevaraz joined as an advisor and then became a co-founder.
As the Washington Business Journal noted, Guard Llama takes a concept from nature and applies it to people facing an emergency.
“The product with which they hope to entice the sharks is a key fob that, when tapped twice, transmits the user’s GPS coordinates to the Guard Llama dispatch call center, which gets it to the police department. It’s named after the llamas used to protect livestock from predators like wolves and coyotes. The entrepreneurs even brought a llama to the show.”
Parisi came up with the idea in 2010 while he and co-founder Adam Havey were Northern Illinois University students and a freshman was raped and murdered in a local park, the Chicago Tribune reported. Her body was found with her cellphone nearby.
“This young woman had her cellphone that was supposed to be her lifeline to the world,” Havey said.
Guard Llama connects to a smartphone app using Bluetooth, the Chicago Tribune reported, and can then send personal information to local public safety agencies with the click of a button. Guard Llama has a $9.95 a month subscription service, with an app-only version for $2.95 a month.
The app not only alerts emergency responders but also sends a message to anyone designated from a friends and family list, the company’s website noted.
The Guard Llama app is more effective than simply calling the police, the company said.
“Because they have your exact location within 9 feet and know what you look like, they can find you up to 3X faster than if you’d called 911 directly,” the site noted.
The founders of Guard Llama were trying to cash in on the Shark Tank attention even before the episode aired on Friday, April 14. Their website’s banner read “As seen on Shark Tank” and had information on when it would air, along with a Shark Tank special that includes two free months with a year-long registration.
The company was even hosting a viewing party, a strong sign that Guard Llama will do well on Shark Tank.
As Nevarez told the Washington Business Journal, the pair are now hoping the Guard Llama website can withstand the rush of people who will be seeking out information after Shark Tank airs.
“That’s really at the end of the day the most important thing, to be able to make sure your website doesn’t crash — that’s your 15 minutes right there,” Nevarez said. “We’ve been making sure that our team is ready to handle the influx of phone calls, emails as well. So it’s a celebration. At the same time, it’s really just the beginning.”
The founders of Guard Llama didn’t disclose before the show’s airing if they got any investment from the panel, but did tell the Washington Business Journal that they’ve already raised $1.1 million from other investors. They are planning to open a new physical location by next month.
For more information on Guard Llama, including the special discount for Shark Tank viewers, check out their company website here.
[Featured Image by ABC]