By @SimonCocking

Describe the company – the elevator pitch

BigRedButton is 24/7 personal safety support on your phone.

It provides immediate, reliable and effective access to support and reassurance anytime you find yourself in a situation where you are concerned about your safety. And when you call we know who you are, where you are and who to contact to get you the support you need to stay safe.

The benefits for anyone using BigRedButton are that they don’t have to worry that their call for support won’t be answered just when they need help. They can rely on BigRedButton for effective support before they need to worry family or friends and if they do need extra support BigRedButton manages all that for you. We call and conference in your contacts to the call. So you only need make one that call to get all the support you need.

And in an emergency BigRedButton will conference in 999 and can help by confirming your location, a big issue for the emergency services as people are often not sure where they are or are unable to communicate effectively in an emergency.

How are you different?

BigRedButton is the only consumer focused personal safety support service available to individuals and families in Ireland and the UK.

The idea for BigRedButton came from our own family experience so we want it to be affordable and at 9.99 per annum it means families can use the service as an extra safety net.

Why will the company / product do well?

Personals safety is concern for everyone whether working on your own, out and about generally or as parents trying to keep everyone safe. We already try as a community to help each other stay safe…”text me or call me when…” is something we all do.

BigRedButton is doing well because it improves on what people are already trying to do themselves. We take that idea of people helping each other and give them something extra in the form of a reliable, structured and effective option that is always available to support you whenever you decide your personal safety may be at risk.

Where are you based?

We are a Dublin based Enterprise Ireland backed HPSU. We have just launched BigRedButton in Ireland and the UK.

When was the company launched?

BigRedButton went live in May 2016 with a soft launch in Ireland and the UK and we began our first marketing drive in June.

What have been your biggest wins to date?

Like any startup just getting to the starting line is a triumph.

Prior to that achieving the support of Enterprise Ireland was a huge win both in terms of financial support but also in terms of validation of the business idea and model. We were also a Vodafone startup award winner.

As we got ready to launch getting feedback and results that surpassed our own expectations every time we tested the market was always a confidence booster.

When we went live getting that very first paying customer, then the first corporate customer to validate what we had seen in testing was great.

And then to add something special were the unsolicited approaches and offers we received from interested parties in several other countries to partner with them in bringing BigRedButton to new markets.

What type of people (market segment) are you trying to attract to your product?

The groups that are really responding to BigRedButton are parents and women.

We started BigRedButton in response to an incident with our own son so we fit the parent’s profile. But as we talked to people about the idea the number of friends that told us about incidents in their experience as students, with work or particularly on nights out it was obvious that women would really use a service like BigRedButton. Even if they don’t expect to make many or any calls people said they would really like to have BigRedButton on their phone just in case.

But it is not limited to those groups. We were invited to present to the Farm Safety Partnership who saw the potential for BigRedButton as a support for farmers working alone. Although the short video we use on our website bigredbutton.com shows a woman walking home alone and encountering a possible threat the interesting thing we have noticed is that people see the value in the service and are adapting the idea to their own lifestyle.

And my own parents at 80 odd years of age are still very active so having it on your phone gives you that extra reassurance to just get on with things but knowing you have the option of an extra safety net at your fingertips, whatever your lifestyle.

Which reminds me of a situation a friend found himself in when he was on holidays and went for a run, slipped and broke his leg. He was lucky there were some people around so that he could call out to attract attention but otherwise he was on his own and not exactly sure where he was just when he needed help.

Tell us about your team?

My background is finance with a number of years in corporate finance which has helped with the whole startup environment.

We have 3 on the tech side, among our shareholders are individuals with experience in support centre operations who we can pull in for projects. Although given that we have partnered with a support centre operator who, apart from really buying into the idea, brings over 30 years’ experience in emergency support means we don’t need to call on them too often. On the marketing side we are working with a number of people to raise our profile and thankfully that is progressing nicely.

What are you long term plans for your product / company?

The service is a very simple concept…press the button to get immediate access to personal safety support… but we do have a number of other ideas we plan to add. But our customers will educate us the most in terms of what they want and we will respond to that.

In terms of the company our immediate objective is to consolidate in Ireland and the UK but as I mentioned above we have already had approaches to bring the service to other countries. When we built to system we had that in mind so it will travel easily and can be localised.

Establishing a service in another country like Spain (we already have some investors from there) means that not only can we serve the local population but that creates additional opportunities for us. If you travel on holidays to Spain, where you really don’t know the system or probably where you are, we can pick you up on the local service and provide you with support you need, in English, to help you and your family stay safe.

What are your favourite tech gadgets?

Anything to do with kiting…although not strictly tech, happy to drool over all the latest toys and gadgets.

But guess it has to be my phone. I’m not a tech guy as such although when I was in secondary school we were one of the first schools to get coding on a fridge sized “computer”. But I am fascinated by the way tech is delivering new ways to do the things you want to do and often things you didn’t even know you wanted to do…see my answer to your next question!

What tech gadgets do you wish you could use to help you?

As a keen kitesurfer keep promising myself a “woo” which is a device that sits on your board and measures how fast you are going and how high you are jumping. As one of the “older” guys (55 years young) on the beach would be nice to definitively prove that I am outperforming the rest!

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?

Any advice I might give to other startups?

I would say find yourself a group of people you can talk too. It is a hard road so being able to talk to someone is important. Your confidence will be dented over and over again so you need the support of people, not just in the business as they are already bought in, but from someone who is bringing a fresh perspective, even if that is something you don’t want to hear…which is probably of most value.

And find something to take your mind off the business, some sport or activity that clears you brain for a while…so for me when you are 20 metre in the air (Woo to confirm!) you are not really think about the business, only how to stay alive!

How do people get in touch with you?

Feel free to email me on [email protected]. Website is www.bigredbutton.com if anyone wants a quick look at the video to learn about the service. Or bypass both and go straight to www.bigredbutton.com/download to get the BigRedButton app for someone you care about, iPhone only at the moment but you can sign you for news on release of the Android app which is in the works.


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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