Even though the summer season doesn't officially kick off for a few weeks, the warm weather has given many of us a chance to get a head start on enjoying a tried and true American pastime - the backyard pool party, and my family was no exception. Our 5-year old spent three afternoons in a row frolicking in pools, and she had the goggle marks around her eyes to prove it! Our 18-month old experienced a pool for the first time in his life - and didn't stop giggling the whole time, except when he decided he needed to stick his face in the water and grab a quick sip.
In the midst of all this fun and excitement, some close friends of ours experienced what no parent ever should - the near-drowning of one of their kids. Thankfully, the little one is super resilient (aren't they all?!) and going to be OK. It was definitely a wake up call for me on many levels, and I did the best I could to use the experience as an opportunity to talk to my 5-year old about the importance of water safety. I also found myself channeling the grief and anguish that I'm sure our friends experienced throughout the ordeal, which manifested itself in an all out sobbing episode as I held and hugged my kids that night.
Soon after I got my wits about me, my mind immediately turned to thinking about why there isn't any product or technology in the marketplace - at least none I had come across during all those late night web surfing sessions researching things I could get for my kids that would reduce or eliminate the risk of drowning - that could greatly help decrease the chances of what my friends went through. My next thought was that I would use this event as motivation to solve this problem. Within an hour I had sketched out what the basics of what the product would be.
Just as I was lining up my accounts with GoDaddy and LegalZoom to get this new venture started, I figured it wouldn't hurt if I did a quick web search to see if by some chance someone had already come up with a way to solve this problem. Not surprisingly - and much to my wife's relief I'm sure - I came across almost the EXACT IDEA I had sketched out earlier on the crowd funding site IndieGoGo called The SEAL - a wearable swim monitoring and drowning detection system.
Any sad feeling I had about not being the one to come up with the idea first (add it to the already long list!) were quickly replaced by feelings of admiration and excitement mixed in with a bit of confusion. The admiration came from discovering that an emergency physician/engineer/father turned entrepreneur named Graham Snyder in North Carolina (yes, there are plenty of entrepreneurs outside LA, SF and NY!) had developed this product. It's truly amazing to see the power of human creativity and entrepreneurship at work, and the fact that funding platforms like IndieGoGo exist that can help great ideas get to market.The excitement came from the fact that this was an active fund-raising campaign, which meant that I could get in on the ground floor as a contributor and (hopefully!) be one of the first to get my hands on the product.
My confusion came from the fact that, despite the amount of press that this product has gotten and the extent to which this product helps solve a HUGE concern for parents, it has only raised about 1/5 of the funds it needs for a successful campaign - and with only 14 days left in the campaign. I have faith that the IndieGoGo community will rally around this product in the next few weeks, and I for one am going to do what little I can above and beyond this blog and my social media posts to encourage anyone and everyone to at least take a look at the campaign page and either contribute any amount they can or at least spread the word about this product to others. As you'll hear in Graham's video, drowning is the #1 cause of death in children under the age of 5, and for every child that drowns, 5 more require some kind of extensive medical care or are left with permanent neurological injuries.
I'm super excited to support Graham's vision and hopefully enough other folks will as well so that we can get great products like these out in the marketplace.