Could technology be the ultimate resource against violence on women? Certainly, it could help and also add an overall feeling of safety and comfort to women when they found themselves alone in certain places or situations. Founded by Yasmine Mustafa – a very inspiring woman who is also the CEO of the company – and Anthony Gold, ROAR For Good has been thinking about this to develop an app, the ROAR App, and a device called Athena. The ROAR App, works together with Athena and when pressed, the device is able to send alerts and connect you with people. To find out more on how Athena works, the story of ROAR For Good, and how this idea could help you feeling more safe, today we speak with Yasmine Mustafa.
What is your story? Why did you decide to Start Roar For Good?
Yasmine Mustafa: I was born in Kuwait and came over to the US at the age of 8 as a refugee of the Persian Gulf War. When I was 15 applying for college, I found out we were considered undocumented despite being brought over by the U.S. Embassy because my little brother was born in the States. It took 22 years to become a US citizen, and to celebrate finally achieving that lifelong goal I decided to take a 6-month solo trek around South America. While there, I encountered countless women who told me their stories of being assaulted or harassed. Then, a week after I came back to Philadelphia, a woman was out feeding her parking meter when she was grabbed from behind, dragged into an alley, and raped right around the corner from where I lived. I decided to call my dear friend and co-founder Anthony Gold the next day and we made a commitment to use our skills, resources, and energy to make the world a safer place. It was at that moment ROAR for Good (and eventually Athena) was born.
In the Photo: The Athena device and ROAR for Good APP. Photo Credit: ROAR For Good
Can you explain to us how Athena works together with the ROAR app?
Yasmine Mustafa: Athena connects with our ROAR Personal Safety app via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Users create a list of contacts in the app who watch over them when an alert is activated. You can enable or disable contacts on your list based on who you want to watch you and when (e.g. activating parents during the day, and activating friends while on a date). Athena has two modes: SilentROAR is activated by pressing Athena’s button 3 times. SMS messages asking for help are then sent to your watchers with a link to your GPS locations. No one in your immediate area has any indication you activated your device. Alarm Mode is activated by pressing and holding Athena’s button for 3 seconds. When this is activated, a loud 90 decibel alarm is emitted from the device in addition to notifying your emergency contacts withyour GPS location. When your contacts get an alert, they can request a check in, call you, message you, or call emergency services with your location (they don’t need to download the app themselves). Once the threat has ended, you can update your app to alert your contacts that you are safe (or in some cases, that you activated the alarm accidentally).
Is it already available on the market? How many users are you counting so far?
Yasmine Mustafa: Yup! We started shipping orders around this time last year. If you order today you can expect to receive your Athena within 2-5 days. We’re grateful to have tens of thousands of Athena devices all over the world. Is it going to be available all around the world? If so, in which where do you expect to make most of the sales? Our initial crowdfunding efforts allowed us to ship internationally, but right now we’re only accepting orders from the US due to country-specific regulations. However, Athena works anywhere there’s cell service. We hope to eventually expand our international-shipping capabilities because we firmly believe everyone deserves the right to feel empowered.
In the Photo: ROAR for Good App with Athena. Photo Credit: ROAR For Good
How do you think you can make an impact in fighting against violence on women?
Yasmine Mustafa: Our main goal is to get to the root cause of violence against women, so we take a percentage of each sale and invest it into nonprofit programs that teach youth (when they’re most impressionable) about empathy, healthy relationships, and respect. These programs have proven to decrease harassment, attacks, and abuse against women in adulthood. In the future, we hope to have our own non-profit that’s also focused on elevating women to positions of power (such as judges and politicians) where they can have an impact on updating law to benefit more women.
Do you have plans to further evolve Athena and the Roar App?
Yasmine Mustafa: Absolutely! We’re working on some cool stuff that I can’t quite share yet but you can stay up to date on our latest news by signing up for our newsletter . I can say that a big goal of ours is to make our tech more accessible to more people around the world.
In the Photo: Athena Charging. Photo Credit: ROAR For Good
How do you see your company in the next couple of years?
Yasmine Mustafa: We definitely want to continue to expand our participation and donations to empathy education programs. Beyond that, we want to have our non-profit arm focused on uplifting women in positions of power. We also see ourselves working with more companies and universities who want to do what they can to ensure the safety of their employees or students.