Safeguard Equipment Electrocution Protection
Safeguard – From Project To Business
It is not often that a passion project from one’s student career becomes a full-time job, but that is exactly what happened for the Safeguard Equipment Inc. team of Brandon Bledsoe, John Thompson, Tim Ledford, and Hari Challa.
University Of Idaho Classmates/Business Partners
During their time as students at the University of Idaho, Ledford approached Bledsoe about the idea of starting a business together after Bledsoe’s previous entrepreneurial venture had come to an end. They thought of Thompson, whom had been working on building his own drones. Thompson had the idea of creating a sensor that would warn utility linemen of high electrical currents to prevent on-the-job electrocution, causing nearly 200 deaths in the past year alone, making it one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States. And thus, Safeguard Equipment Inc.’s AC-Sentry was born.
AC Sentry (AC-S)
AC-Sentry (AC-S) is a small wristband, about the size of a Fitbit, that alerts its wearer of potentially harmful electrical currents moving through the surface that they are working on through the use of auditory, visual, and physical alerts. AC-S detects Electromagnetic Radiation waves and combines it’s finding with readings of an electric current’s magnetic field. Through using an antenna on the exterior of the wristband, along with utilizing new technology that makes the wearer’s body as an antenna, AC-S is able to detect the source of electricity from the user’s closest point of contact.
The team started Safeguard Equipment Inc., formerly LLC, in response to the staggering rates of injury and death due to on-the-job electrocution in the utility lineman industry. They were shocked to learn that today’s safety equipment hasn’t changed to utilize today’s exponentially improving technology. Concerned for their loved ones in the industry, and realizing the potential for their product to be applied to markets outside of the industry, they pursued creating the AC-S.
BTE Bootcamp – Priceless Yet Reasonably Priced
Brandon Bledsoe was extended the invitation to attend Palouse Knowledge Corridor’s™ Be The Entrepreneur Bootcamp™ in 2016 by the University of Idaho’s George Tanner. Bledsoe said that the information he received at BTE Bootcamp™ was priceless.
“I took the opportunity because I saw it as a great chance to improve our business, gain more experience throwing the pitch, along with gaining some top notch networking throughout the Palouse area.”
Bledsoe said that BTE Bootcamp™ was a fantastic networking opportunity with like-minded people who are passionate about what they do, and that he would absolutely recommend the experience to other aspiring entrepreneurs.
“It’s been amazing. Everyone was encouraging with every step we took. We were referred to countless connections which we continue to network with today.”
It’s A Hit!
Safeguard Equipment has continued to grow rapidly since their time at BTE Bootcamp™, being awarded $30,000 in grants in local entrepreneurship challenges such as the Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge in Boise, the EWU Entrepreneur Challenge at Whitworth University, and the Entrepreneur Challenge at the University of Idaho.
While Safeguard Equipment has recently converted from an LLC into an Incorporation and will be relocating to Spokane, Washington, Bledsoe said that in the long run, he hopes to possibly set up a communal workshop with aspiring entrepreneurs from the University of Idaho and Washington State University to help boost access to materials to make their products.
“The community atmosphere and the pride that locals have for the Palouse region really shows. As a Moscow native I’ve seen businesses come and go; however, the community was almost always there trying to give them an extra push in the right direction… Businesses work together to succeed.”