Seth Froom & Sean Simone
POSITION: Inventors and co-founders
COMPANY: Yellow Jacket
WHAT THEY DO: Design and retail stun guns that are disguised as cell phone covers
REVENUE: Froom hopes to initially sell 5,000 units online with pledges of $100
NEXT GOAL: Currently the Yellow Jacket is designed to fit iPhone 4s and earlier models, including most smartphones. But the goal is to design taser guns that cover most major brands of cell phones.
The "aha" moment
On a summer night last year, Seth Froom (pictured left) and a couple of friends were robbed at gunpoint by a home invader on Kilt Place Avenue, off Highland Road and Staring Lane. The robber made off with cash, cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices. “I spent about a week or two in a daze and traumatized by the event, trying to think about what I could have done to have made things different,” says Froom, a former military police officer. The 23-year-old's thoughts kept returning to his cell phone and a weaponized casing. “I quickly thought of a stun gun, just because of its incapacitating nature.”
Froom brought in friend and entrepreneur Sean Simone (pictured right) to help find investors, engineers and a manufacturer for the Yellow Jacket. They found it difficult to put those three together in Louisiana. But eventually a distributor in Little Rock, Ark., connected them with an overseas manufacturer that has in-house engineers, and it designed and built a prototype that Froom carries in his pocket today. About the thickness of an iPhone, it delivers 650,000 volts of electricity.
Hitting the market
Froom and Simone will raise money for Yellow Jacket on kickstarter.com, where online visitors can pledge funds to creative projects that need investors. For about 30 to 60 days this summer, visitors can pledge $100 to Yellow Jacket and receive a stun gun-cell phone casing about two months later. After that, Froom anticipates the Yellow Jacket will hit retail shelves for $124.99 on Sept. 1.
The Yellow Jacket will essentially have two safety features: a cap that rotates off the front end of the device and isn't activated until a safety switch is released and a button is pressed. “This is capable of incapacitating a grown man.”
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