Startup Spotlight: Safe CarTech
Startup Spotlight: Safe CarTech
Meet Suraj Rama – Engineer and Founder of Safe CarTech, a company revolutionizing road safety by minimizing rear collisions!
GH: What is Safe CarTech?
At Safe CarTech, we believe everyone should have access to the latest car safety technology. We have created a user installable device that helps prevent rear end collision accidents. It works by monitoring your driving using an accelerometer and then flashes a bright red light to alert other distracted drivers when you have to stop for an emergency. The bright flashing lights are more noticeable in our peripheral vision than conventional brake lights and has been measured to reduce braking reaction time up to 200 ms or an extra 19 feet of stopping distance.
GH: What was your Eureka moment: how did Safe CarTech get started?
In 2015, I was in a severe car accident but, luckily, was unharmed. I noticed that most car manufacturers do not address rear collision safety. I had become a more anxious driver – constantly scanning the mirrors, especially when coming to an abrupt stop. Tapping the brakes or flashing the hazard lights was an effective way to alert drivers but I wished there was an automatic safety light to alert distracted drivers. This is when the idea was born.
An early prototype was shown to friends, automotive stores, investors, mothers, and other drivers. Many of the people interviewed had either been in a rear collision themselves or knew someone that was – they immediately saw value in the device. People wished there were more user installable safety devices that could easily be added to cars.
GH: How did you build your team?
Our team is lean right now – just me and Steven, another engineer and a few contract employees. In the near future we are looking for someone with marketing expertise to help us reach our audience better and spread the word about our Kickstarter launch.
GH: What is your company philosophy driving your company culture?
We at Safe CarTech are mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters, just like you – we are committed to creating a safer, more aware – and in turn, a better world. Safe CarTech was founded on the belief that all drivers should have access to the latest safety features. So we aim to provide affordable and easy to install safety equipment for any vehicle.
Our purpose as a company is to align with these three words: Dependable. Innovative. Honest.
This is our promise to you. Use our products and feel safe.
We create automotive safety equipment to allow everyone access to the latest technology – any car, any person.
We only source our components with integrity. We always have workers, wages, the environment and outstanding quality on our minds.
Founder and Engineer
GH: Startup life is full of failures and ‘make it work’ moments – can you identify how you bounced back from one of yours?
We had a meeting with a potential investor and we planned to demo the second iteration of a prototype. However, parts did not arrive in time due to a holiday schedule for Chinese New Year, a supply issue for parts, and a design error. We thought we were doomed and felt we failed. We ended up creating a prototype with some off-the-shelf components and it worked well for the purpose of the demo. However it was a bit bulky and lacked the aesthetic quality of the prototype we wanted to demo. So we rendered some images of what the final prototype would have looked like and presented that.
GH: What did you learn from your first customers?
We have not started to sell to customers yet. We have talked to potential customers and learned some customers worried about the legality of the device. So we made sure to address this in our sales pitch since we have designed it to be compliant with all regulations in the USA and Canada.
GH: What has the Boston ecosystem provided you?
Boston is rich in talent – so it has been useful to meet bright people. The Venture Cafe is an entrepreneurship hub which I attend regularly and has been a great way to network with both seasoned entrepreneurs and new entrepreneurs.
As a Boston University Alumni, I reached out to several professors through BUild and the Innovate program. They have provided advice and helped think through strategy and marketing.
GH: What’s the best/worst piece of advice you were given along the way?
Best advice: Validate the market as early as possible with an MVP – even if it’s hacked together. Sometime you don’t even need a functional prototype if you can use computer models or Photoshop to get your idea across.
Worst advice: Someone told me not to openly share my project for the fear that someone will steal the idea. I found this to be terrible advice and it limited my interactions with other people. I think there is a delicate balance where you have to protect your IP and share your idea with people in order to be successful.
GH: What was the best thing that happened to you last year?
I was in the waiting room for a routine eye checkup when an elderly man sat next to me. We started chatting to kill time and I started talking about Safe CarTech and our rear collision avoidance device. The man started to cry. His sister was paralyzed due to a rear collision accident. He was excited to hear about the project we are working on. We hugged and then parted when his named was called by the doctor. This is the best thing that has happened to me since it has provided a steady source of motivation.
GH: What does the future hold for Safe CarTech?
We are looking for funding to start manufacturing and plan to launch on Kickstarter by the end of Summer. We also plan to contact retailers and fleet owners to establish partnerships. Please check out our website and reach out if you have any questions!
Learn more about Safe CarTech!