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2017 was a crazy good year for startups raising capital via ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings), a form of crowdfunding for cryptocurrency and blockchain projects. But, not so for the investors. 211 ICO projects raised around €4.5 Billion in a largely unregulated market. Most failed after raising the funds. Three patterns I observed in most of the failed ICO projects was lack of a functional product, zero paying customers, and no credible partners. Recently, I got hold of Ingmar Vroege, co-founder, and CEO, of Safeguard, an app that helps companies prevent work-related injuries and safety threats and is about to raise funding by selling tokens through ICO. I interviewed Ingmar about:
- The startup’s recent partnership with Startupbootcamp, an industry-focused network of startup accelerators
- Safeguard’s planned ICO event in which the startup aims to raise €20M
- Current and future plans of Safeguard, and the milestones it has achieved so far
Tell us something about your past experience and how you came to the realization of making an app that helps companies in accident prevention?
Ingmar: We started developing apps in 2012 for startups and large organization always with an interest in safety. In 2015 we were approached by the Amphia hospital to develop an app that could alarm safety personal and give insight into their presence. That is where Safeguard started.
For the enterprise and for the user, how does the solution work?
Our current solution is simple, we organize a phone call with organizations that want to use our platform. In 30 minutes we show them around our dashboard and define their locations. Then our client can invite safety personnel via email and so they can download our app. After installing the app they are marked as available when they are in the organizations GPS perimeter or when they’re not the app remains inactive. Available personnel can receive a notification (overrides silent mode) in case of an emergency.
Our future AI solution will learn from the data we gather from Safeguard and other integrations and will preemptively be sent notifications to certain people whenever there is a possible high-risk situation.
Which clients have you served with this app so far and how many current users utilize your app?
At this point, we have 31 organizations with almost 2000 users. We started 2018 with 12 clients We found channels that generated traction for us and now are looking for ways to scale the business.
How have your customers been tracking accidents and preventing them until now?
They use pagers and radio’s in order to communicate in case of an emergency. Next, they use presence boards to give insight into who’s available. Currently, they use fire installations and microphones to prevent accidents from happening. This goes for the EU and North America. We are planning to combine these different sources of data in Safeguard to develop better prediction models.
Why are you collaborating with the accelerator as you’ll also apply for their Startupbootcamp Smart City & IoT program?
Startupbootcamp supports us during the token sale with their network, knowledge and pr outreach, which already helped us a lot. We are happy that an accelerator like Startupbootcamp is backing up our project since this also provides credibility to the outside world.
We are applying for the ‘Startupbootcamp Smart City & IoT‘ program which will start after our token sales. Because our new AI feature and the underlying economy need to be developed from the ground up we want to attend this program to make sure we’re in an environment surrounded with mentors, corporate partners and other IoT solutions that enable us to make the best decisions possible.
An important success factor of our platform will be the collaboration with partners like insurance companies and other corporate organizations that are willing to buy our data. Startupbootcamp will give us the possibility to get warm introductions into their corporate network, which makes it easier for us to find partners and potential customers to work with.
“It is important for Startupbootcamp to be a part of this initiative. Safeguard as a solution really contributes to safer cities, which we strive for in our Smart City & IoT innovation program. Therefore we are happy to see that they applied for our program. We are scouting startups and scale-ups until April 16th. Since we work with a lot of emerging companies, of which an increasing amount has Token Sale plans, we are happy to support this process,” said Manuela Krull from Startupbootcamp Amsterdam.
Is this a verbal collaboration or have both organizations signed a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding)?
We have an agreement with the token sale. For the program, we still have to apply just like everyone else.
You’re about to raise 30000 ETH via ICO (approx. 20 million euros). What milestones has Safeguard achieved so far that justifies raising a big round of crowdfunding?
We have gained a lot of traction in the Netherlands and in Belgium, with big corporate clients like BAM, KPN, and RDW. We want to create unique value by developing an ecosystem with companies and partners that is hard to copy. Raising this amount of ETH enables us to put full focus in developing and growing this ecosystem on a worldwide base within a period of 5 to 10 years.
What are some of the specific steps that Safeguard will take to transparently conduct the ICO, especially when Fortune Magazine reported that half of the ICOs in 2017 disappeared after raising money?
One step is applying to Startupbootcamp IoT & Smart City program, next to that we already have a running business with large clients so that’s not something we want to give up and run.
We admit that the blockchain environment is new and unregulated. We are a registered company in The Netherlands and we work in close contact with the AFM to be sure that we are compliant with all laws.
Do you plan to raise more funds after the ICO?
No. Depending on the amount raised, it will secure a runway of 5 to 10 years to develop the entire platform. As stated before, we are raising $20 million and we are willing to take on VC money during our token sale.
Editor’s note: For now, it appears Safeguard has already tested its solution with paying customers and is confident of scaling its operations and rolling out more features. Let’s keep a close look on their ICO and how much it raise and how swiftly it attains the development-related milestones later.