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Covington’s man-made startup could be a game-changer in emergency alert systems

Growing up in a single-parent family sparked Trevon Bruch’s entrepreneurial spirit.

“I became ‘man of the house’ when I was about 12,” the 27-year-old Covington native said. “When you grow up in a single-parent home, you’re much more aware of things like being low-income, the march of the world, and how hard your mom works for you.”

Bruch’s mother worked night shifts, leaving her the responsibility of getting herself and her younger brothers ready for school each morning.

“It actually allowed me to take on leadership at an early age; made me a better leader now and it taught me to take care of people,” Bruch said. “Like, there’s usually a lot more going on with someone than what you see on the surface.”

This intuitive attention to detail led Bruch to an important discovery a few years ago, which led him to co-found Safewave technology. Safewave will soon offer a vibration-based wristband that connects to consumer security systems and fire alarms.

“A few years ago I was sleeping in my bedroom and was suddenly woken up by a fire alarm,” Bruch said. “After checking my surroundings and realizing there was no threat, I began to wonder, ‘What if I hadn’t heard the alarm and something was wrong? everything ?'”

It made him think of those who cannot hear. Bruch asked his friend and co-founder Jared Gabbard to research emergency alert devices for deaf people. Gabbard found nothing on the market. He learned of several visual warning signals, but these only work if someone is awake.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 400 million people suffer from some type of hearing loss. This number is increasing. The WHO estimates that in 30 years about 2.5 billion people will have some degree of hearing loss.

“That’s a lot of people we can help,” Bruch said. “There are lives we could save.”

That’s what struck Zac Strobl, associate director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Northern Kentucky University (NKU), most about the idea for the product – “its ability to potentially save lives.” .

“The other thing that impressed me with the idea was the gap in the market,” Strobl said. “No one came up with this concept, a wearable device for the hearing impaired to be alerted in an emergency. There are a lot of ideas and inventions around wristbands, but Trevon has come up with a new way to use the bracelets and to address a market with a great need.

According to Strobl, it can be rare to find and develop a previously unexplored concept, especially in today’s world where entrepreneurship has become mainstream.

“Entrepreneurship simply defined is problem solving,” Strobl said. “That’s what Trevon did. An entrepreneurial mindset also involves being able to overcome challenges and having a high level of tolerance for ambiguity. There are a lot of unknowns when creating a new product or service. You have to accept the risk.

Bruch, according to Strobl, has that entrepreneurial mindset.

“He’s a hustler,” Strobl said. “It’s a term we use to describe entrepreneurs who persist, who aren’t going to give up. Trevon has had his ups and downs, but he’s getting through it. He is a hard worker and very dedicated. It’ll be cool if it all works out.

Bruch pitched his idea and co-founded Safewave in 2019 and participated in NKU’s INKUBATOR, a 12-week business accelerator that helps bridge the gap between concept and business. Later that year, Bruch and Gabbard entered Texas Christian University’s Values ​​and Ventures pitch competition. Safewave was named the second best pitch in the United States and became an official LLC soon after.

In 2021, Bruch put aside his other business venture ideas to focus fully on Safewave. The company also participated in the Mortar Covington Pitch Competition and won the People’s Choice Award and was shortlisted for SoCap Accelerate, which connects health-related startups with social capital.

Then Safewave took on the challenge of creating the wearable device. Bruch dove into fundraising mode to support development and testing of the technology. In 2022, Safewave received an investment of $35,000 out of a valuation cap of $1.75 million.

Bruch said the product is now close to launch. Pre-order sales became available to the public in August. There’s still a lot of work to do, however, and Bruch is on top. He traveled to New York and Minnesota for the DeafNation Expo to promote Safewave. Additionally, it has invested in targeted social media advertising. To bolster its team, Safewave is also seeking $750,000 in fundraising.

“It’s exciting,” Bruch said. “I’m looking forward to delivering the product to people, but also, I’m enjoying and enjoying this whole journey. One of the best things has been being able to connect with other entrepreneurs and just other people in general. I have never done anything like this and no one in my family has. I am the first in my family to go to university and graduate. I learn everything from scratch.

His mother Nichole Bruch is very proud and said her son was so motivated because he wanted to help others.

“Trevon has always thrived on being a positive influence on his little brothers and those around him,” she said. “He’s strong-willed and doesn’t let the word discourage him from doing what he believes in.”

Bruch, however, said he never knew he would be an entrepreneur.

“When I was at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), I studied broadcasting for three years,” he said. “I loved broadcasting, but I was not in love with the salary I would receive. So, I changed my major to political science and was planning on going to law school.

In 20016, however, while at EKU, Bruch and a friend developed the concept of an app for themselves and other students to help navigate campus.

“I just fell in love with the creativity of the process,” Bruch said. “I enjoy solving problems and finding solutions for people in need.”

According to Bruch, that’s what the Safewave business was for.

“Sometimes I just think ‘Wow! ‘” Bruch said. “I look at our product and I think, ‘I created you.’ It’s the best feeling in the world. And then, to say that it can help others, it could save lives. It’s motivating.

Trevon Bruch, co-founder of Safewave Technology. (Photo via Trevon Bruch)