Fashion Meets the Internet of Things to Keep Women Safe
Globally, one in three women experience some kind of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, per a recent United Nations (U.N.) report. According to the report, 330,000 crimes against women were registered in India in 2015. However, 90% of such crimes are never reported, making the well-being of women a pressing global and social problem.
As an entrepreneur, I created a solution to the pervasive issue of women’s safety in India by launching DAZL, a ‘smart’ keychain device to help women find refuge when facing unsafe situations.
DAZL is a connected device that allows individuals to trigger a location-based SOS alert to friends and family in an emergency, automating responses when phones are not readily accessible. Users can also opt to sound a loud alarm to diffuse an uncomfortable situation.
Additionally, DAZL acts as a tracker for devices like keychains and smartphones, and can receive notifications from phone calls, messages, and emails. DAZL is modular in form factor, and can be attached to keychains, handbags, pendants, or simply put it in a user’s pocket.
To develop the product, I researched ‘Internet of Things’ technology and travelled throughout Singapore, Shenzhen, and Penang to interview contract manufacturers. Finding a competitively-priced and high calibre contract manufacturing partner was more difficult than I’d anticipated. After lengthy trips through Asia, we were finally able to build a strong, strategic relationship with our contract manufacturer in Malaysia, who also served as our product advisor.
Despite the strong concept and mission behind DAZL, I still had to convince my contract manufacturer that I had what it took to lead a venture of this size and complexity, lead product management, and earn their trust for the long-term.
Coming from a background in auditing and merger and acquisition (M&A) advisory, I faced a steep learning curve from the start. I researched Bluetooth technology, designed product specifications, wrote algorithms, built a technical network, and recruited and led engineers to build embedded hardware and a companion app for DAZL.
With these pieces in place, DAZL was recognized by HAX, the world’s first and largest tech hardware accelerator, in San Francisco in 2017. We raised over US$113,000 in seed funding and investments from Vodafone, the Government of India, and SOSV (a venture capital firm). We then used our funding to assemble an international, cross-functional team of engineers and industrial designers.
United in our mission to make the world safer for women, we created what I believe is a remarkable product.
We were covered by CNBC TV (India), and by print media such as the Economic Times (India), VC Circle (India), Ubergizmo (USA), and Berliner Morgenpost (Germany). I was invited to speak at the United Nations Development Program-sponsored event, FT Investing for Good—Asia Summit, in Hong Kong in 2018.
Thanks to the increased reporting around the issue of women’s safety, I learned more about the magnitude of this problem in India and around the world. I researched possible solutions and came up with the idea of building wearable technology.
Hear more insights from Aditi and other inspiring women in technology by registering for the April 18th session of Women Rock-IT.