Two Tampa, Florida, dads motivated to prevent hot car deaths, are shaking up the entrepreneurial world.
Fadi Shamma, 36, and his neighbor Jim Friedman, 48, were heartbroken each time they heard about another child who died in a hot car. But they decided to take action, and wasted no time in getting a product together.
A about a year and a half ago, the neighbors created Sense a Life, a device that reminds parents and caretakers when a child is still in its carseat.
One sensor is attached to the driver's seat, registering when a person exits the vehicle. Another is fastened to the carseat, monitoring if a child is still in the car. The sensor determines when a driver is about to exit the vehicle and uses an audio alert to notify the driver.
The device is also connected through a smartphone app that provides the driver with a second notification. If for some reason those alerts do not lead to the child being removed from the car, the app will notify other registered caretakers.
The technology aims to keep children safe as parents and caretakers navigate through a distracted world.
Shamma and Friedman, each with two kids of their own, understand the various factors that can render a child alone in a hot car.
A simple change in daily routine, medication or sheer exhaustion can cause a parent or caregiver to be distracted enough to forget a child is still in the car. However, it's not out of poor parenting skills, Shamma said.
"We're all human; we all make mistakes," he said.
On average, 38 children die each year in the United States after being left in a hot car.
Shamma, a pharmacist, and Friedman, an electrical engineer, built multiple prototypes over the span of a year before they arrived at a marketable product. They've been in contact with multiple investors, carseat manufacturers and even some reality-TV show producers.
Contact from every industry has been positive, Shamma said, but they are waiting for the right investor.
Sense A Life has seen so much traction that Shamma and Friedman quit their day jobs. They're now devoting their time solely to getting the device in cars across the country.
Still, being an entrepreneur has taken more out of him than his 10 years as a pharmacist.
"This is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," Shamma said.
Friedman has been building every device out of house, just three doors down from Shamma. They have a third partner Masud Hossain, who manages the website and marketing.
"You're going to see Sense a Life on the shelves one way or another," Shamma said. "I don't want to hear of 40 deaths a year anymore."
They expect it to cost well under $100 but are hoping to work with a car or carseat manufacturers to have it pre-installed.