How I came up with the idea for my innovative safety product

A person holding an older persons hand with blurred trees in the background

Leo Scott Smith founded Tended in 2017 after his mother suffered an accident at home - while he was providing aid relief thousands of miles away. Here he explains how he was inspired to develop the world's first intelligent personal safety device

"I became interested in personal safety after I travelled in Nepal after the 2015 earthquakes. Providing aid relief, I was exposed to numerous dangerous situations such as landslides, aftershocks and even ambushes.

"Ironically, while working out in Nepal in these risky conditions I received the news that my mum had fallen off a ladder in the UK. Although not seriously injured, it could have been far worse - and no-one would have known for some time, as she lives alone.

"These events inspired me to develop our first product, the Tended Protect - an intelligent personal safety device. Simple to use and low cost, it's a wrist-wearable band that combines advanced sensor technology and artificial intelligence to analyse trends in a user's movements and detect any abnormalities that would indicate a potential accident."

Finding my market

Leo Smith"My lightbulb moment really happened when it occurred to me how many people there are that can benefit from personal safety technology. I think it's so important to have a big potential market for your product.

"Take outdoor sports enthusiasts, for example. There are many people who are desperate to get out on their bike or horse, or even just for a walk, but don't have the confidence to go out on their own, particularly in remote rural areas.

"It's not only people enjoying themselves on the weekend, either - personal safety is vital for lone workers too. In the UK alone, as many as 150 lone workers are attacked verbally or physically every day. We can do something about that.

"I'd advise anyone developing a product to consider both consumer and B2B market segments. You just don't know who'll want your product until you actually try to sell it to people.

Managing the unpredictable

"You read so much about how entrepreneurs are out there crushing it, all the time. It definitely doesn't feel like that for me - not every day - but you just keep going.

"One day I could be in the office for eighteen hours straight, closing off a list of accumulated jobs. The next I could be on the other side of the country (or the world, in some instances), meeting with potential clients, investors or partners.

"The only constant in my workdays is lots of time spent on the phone, replying to emails and milling over ideas, problems and solutions with the team."

No fear of failure

"Leading a fast-expanding start-up is not easy. We've grown from just one to a team of fifteen in ten months. We've had funding rounds fall through, and ran out of money on a few occasions. We've also run into development issues which have taken months to fix.

"We exist to make people safer when they choose to take risks, and for me that ethos extends to my role as CEO. I want everyone I work with to feel like this is a place they can take risks, and push themselves."

Looking to the future

"Advances in technology, such as using Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) wireless technology to enhance device connectivity or advancing our AI and datasets to analyse trends in users' movements, mean that one day we might even be able to predict accidents before they happen.

"The dream is for Tended to be the go-to solution for personal safety, enabling millions of people to get out there and do what they want - safe in the knowledge that someone will help them if they need it."

Leo's three key lessons

  • "Networking is a valuable (and free) tool for any start-up. Some of my most useful contacts, I gained by talking to people from different backgrounds. I actually met one important contact in an Uber pool! "
  • "Don't ponder - make informed decisions fast, and don't be afraid to take risks."
  • "Grow your team as quickly as possible - this creates momentum and energy which is arguably the most important aspect of a start-up (apart from a great product, of course)."

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.