Startup Spotlight: Knightly

Sep 25, 2016

Startup Spotlight: Knightly

Sep 25, 2016

This week we talk with Abigael Titcomb, the Founder/CEO of Knightly. Abigael tells us about Knightly’s journey, what it’s like to be a hardware startup and the hard work involved in creating a safer student network.

GH: What is Knightly?

AT: Knightly is the IoT for campus safety. Our Bluetooth enabled safety device and mobile application keeps students connected to friends, family, and campus police at the touch of a button. By selling directly to Universities, we put safety in the palms of students hands at no cost or effort to them. We empower students to take control of their personal safety, build healthier relationships with their campus police departments, and grow a social safety network.


GH: What was your Eureka moment: how did Knightly get started?

AT: Knightly got started the day I read a tragic article about a college student who was murdered and I realized it could just as easily have been me. I was surrounded by the distractions of college life and although I valued my personal safety, I didn’t have the motivation or the tools to ensure it. I realized this was the case with all college students. Safety is often the last thing on our minds. I designed Knightly not only to protect students day-to-day, but to empower students to take control of their personal safety.

GH: How did you build your team?

AT: At such an early stage, it’s hard to get people to take a leap of faith and work for you especially when they have more ‘stable’ options being presented to them. I’ve found that the best people to have on your team are the ones who want to work for you because they trust in your vision and they know they have the ability to implement it.

GH: Startup life is full of failures and ‘make it work’ moments – can you identify how you bounced back from one of yours?

AT: Identifying strong competition is always a tough moment, especially when you’re in the midst of prototyping and product development. It’s so easy to start doubting yourself and lose momentum. After learning about a particularly strong competitor last year, I was feeling lost on which path I should take forward. Instead of ignoring the competition and letting myself be stagnant and confused, I embraced the it head-on and used their similarities/differences to drive my product into a more advantageous position.

GH: What did you learn from your first users?

AT: I’ve come to learn that the most important thing to developing a good product is empathy. You’ve got to care about the pains and gains behind user’s desires. By exploring the day-to-day experiences, interactions, and struggles of college students, we’ve derived user insights that have molded the development of Knightly into what it is today.

GH: What has the Boston ecosystem provided you?

AT:  An unparalleled amount of resources. Even as a student I have access to forums, panels, conferences, and networking events, that give me the opportunity to make countless valuable connections for my company.Greenhorn Connect, Joselin Mane’s TweetUp, WeWork, The Hatch at Fenway, Startup Stir, andMassChallenge are just a couple of the organization’s/resources that keep me connected everyday.

GH: What is the Boston ecosystem lacking from your perspective?

ATI don’t think that the Boston ecosystem is necessary lacking, I just think that there can never be enough resources for hardware startups. It’s very hard to bootstrap a hardware company from the ground up and it’s also very hard to find resources to help you do so. Bolt and Dragon Innovation are perfect examples of those types of resources, but selfishly, I wouldn’t complain if there were more.

GH: What is the best/worst advice you were given along the way?

AT: That your mentors aren’t always right. As a first-time entrepreneur and student, it was very hard for me to not believe that everything a more experienced mentor told me was right. I took every piece of advice as a command, but soon came to realize that even though I was less experienced, I was most in tune with the vision and mission of the company. I learned to use mentor’s advice to supplement the development of my vision instead of overpowering it.

GH: What was the best thing that happened to you last year?

AT: Participating and placing in Beantown Throwdown last October because it kickstarted the exponential progress of this past year.

GH: What does the future hold for Knightly?

AT: We’re going to be launching user pilots at Northeastern University this coming fall and hope to start spreading to other Universities soon after. We want every college student in Boston to be protected by the Knightly network.
Learn More about Knightly at

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