Kwema - One of Nine Tech Companies in Secure Erie Accelerator
Last week Erie News Now introduced you to the Erie Innovation District's "Secure Erie Accelerator" program. Now we plan to introduce you to each of the nine young tech companies invited to participate.
Kwema was among the companies chosen from a pool of over 100 applicants from 37 different countries. They are a wearable safety technology company based primarily in Mexico City.
The company is starting to market sleek bracelets, with a hidden alarm or a panic button that anyone wearing it can press if they believe they're in danger. The device is tied to an app that notifies a wearer's personal security contacts and nearby community members where they are and that they need help.
Company CEO and founder Carmina Santamaria said she came up with the idea, after a friend was kidnapped in broad daylight. She knew the device had to be beautiful, so it wouldn't look like a tech device. And she wanted it to be easier to access than digging in a purse or pocket for a cell phone. "Like an Apple watch or like a smart watch, they will take that thing away, because they know it’s a smart device and you can do something with it," Santamaria said, "but if it just looks like jewelry, then they wouldn’t even care."
Because of support from Erie Insurance for the accelerator program, Santamaria says the device is getting a lot of attention from the insurance sector.
Each of the young companies chosen for the program receives $50,000 in seed money. Company Co-founder and COO Ali Jabry said that support and mentor-ship comes at an important time for Kwema. "It was rather important because we were at a stage where we’re investing heavily in our commercialization of our product," Jabry said, adding, "I would say beyond the money it was the long term play that we see being in Pennsylvania and Erie because of the partners that are involved in this accelerator, and also the potential markets we can enter."