The resources, connections and funding of Digital Sandbox KC will help startup e-beacons launch its public safety solution, which will send out the first “beacon” in the event of an emergency, over web and mobile applications.
For the web, e-beacons shows public safety dispatches location and incident data in real time, filtering emergencies so trained staff can focus on the greatest need. For mobile apps, e-beacons allows users to report when they need help instantly.
The fully customizable system will serve designated population areas.
“e-beacons is one of those straight forward companies that focuses on a filling a very real need in the public safety arena,” said Jeff Shackelford, director of the Digital Sandbox KC. “John and Hieu are developing a highly integrated system that is easy for the user and provides real-time alert and data for public safety groups.”
Lighting the First Beacon
There’s a scene in Two Towers, the second book in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, where beacons on the seven peaks of Gondor’s White Mountains are kindled one by one to warn neighboring Middle Earth that Minas Tirith has been besieged by the enemy’s armies.
That scene was an epiphany for John Ruiz, CEO and co-founder of e-beacons.
“Watching that scene gave me the idea to apply that ‘beacon’ system to real- life situations. I figured something similar could be effective using web and mobile applications,” said Ruiz, who had recently moved back to his hometown of Kansas City after attending Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri, hot on the heels and opportunities of Google Fiber’s presence in Kansas City.
He began building out the application, using his newly developed programming skills gleaned from a free RareWire coding class at Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation, a program of the Kauffman Foundation that helps the next generation of innovative firms learn how to start and grow their businesses.
Ruiz quickly realized he needed an extensive backend system that could receive and organize the alerts. Exhausting his own development skills, he decided to pitch his idea at Startup Weekend Kansas City. His idea garnered positive responses, and Hieu Truong joined the team. Truong, who had recently graduated with a computer science degree from University of Arkansas, had driven to Kansas City on the off chance he would find a project to work on after graduating from the University of Arkansas.
e-beacons didn’t win the weekend, although Ruiz and Truong both saw the potential and decided to join forces and pursue it. Ruiz started networking, pitching and building his connections. That naturally led to a presentation at 1 Million Cups.
“It was an event that truly changed our lives. After the 1MC presentation things went from 0 to 60, and it took us to where we are now. We became well connected within the community and started taking advantage of any and every resource offered to us,” said Ruiz.
Those resources included the E-Scholars Program at UMKC, LaunchKC, OfficePort, and other programs through the Kauffman Foundation and around Kansas City. With the help of some key community members, mentors and a couple of beta clients willing to take a chance on the startup, e-beacons is now on the verge of successfully entering the market.
Lighting the Path
Ruiz and Truong will use the resources of the Digital Sandbox KC to take the next critical steps to move their startup toward commercialization. Funding and industry connections will help them cover initial startup costs and projects so they can continue to expand.
“Our ultimate goal is to achieve at least 1 percent market penetration, which would result in nearly $1 million in yearly revenue,” said Ruiz.
“The Digital Sandbox has helped e-beacons continue to build out its product set and get it tested and ready for the market,” said Shackelford.