Photo Courtesy of Comfort Key
For teens, especially young women, the threat of harassment on the street is a sad reality that many have to live with. Especially when alone, high school girls can be seen as easy targets by people with less than pure intentions. It is for this reason that many self-defense or protection products exist, from bejeweled pepper spray to a personal taser. And, for those less violently inclined, WCHS freshman Nithya Gopalakrishnan, co-founder of ComfortKey, has devised a safe, effective solution.
Comfort Key is a small, inconspicuous keychain flashlight that can blend in easily with one’s car keys and other accessories, but it contains a powerful secret. When the button on the surface is pressed, the small device is capable of emitting an ear-shattering 100 decibel burst of sound. It gives off the same volume as the blades of a helicopter touching down. The alarm can be used both offensively and defensively.
“You can push the alarm with the goal of attracting anyone nearby and possibly scaring off the attacker as well,” Gopalakrishnan said. “Many of us have been in those situations when walking home or to our cars and not feeling safe because maybe someone’s been following you.”
The comfort key aims to make it easy to remove oneself from these situations. Gopalakrishnan does not simply represent Comfort Key but is actually one of the co-founders. Partnered with Junior Achievement, an organization that helps young people build their entrepreneurial skills, she successfully created this product. She wrote a pitch, sold it to investors, had her product made and shipped and attended several local trade fairs to get the word out. While there are some advisors from Junior Achievement that can help students if need be, the vast majority of the work is done solely by the students themselves. The goal is to instill business knowledge that can prove very useful in adult life for budding entrepreneurs.
“It was incredibly intense, and it felt a lot like being on Shark Tank,” Gopalakrishnan said. “We have mentors that can help and advise us but the company is about 85% based on us.”
In the time she’s been selling Comfort Key the company has already sold over 100 units, making over $1,150 in profits. But the students aren’t hoarding the cash, either. Ten percent of each key’s $11.50 price tag ($1.15) goes towards the Find the Children charity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of child abduction. The organization specializes in communication and funds to help increase communication between different branches of law enforcement, as well as to the public regarding missing children cases. The entire Comfort Key team is dedicated in every way to the protection of kids and teens across the globe, and this dedication is shown by their charitable contributions and fundraising abilities.
Overall, Gopalakrishnan says that the experience has opened her eyes to both the business world and the world of self defense, as well as sharpened her business skills. She enjoys the work she does and is looking forward to what she can think up next.
“I really enjoyed the collaboration involved in making this company and learning more about entrepreneurship and meeting many major businessmen and women,” Gopalakrishnan said. “I really love participating in this program, and I hope to do it again next year with different people and a different product.”