Interview:

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What inspired you to start Safe Squad? 

Mercedes had an experience directly related to the issue of sexual assault and rape and felt that the issue was underrepresented. She sought to bring about a gender-neutral solution to address the issue of safety for those vulnerable circumstances. Her solution was to develop a user-friendly app which would accurately address this need. The creation of the app is to enable her to develop a platform to speak out and help those who have been similar circumstances to her own but were unable to have a voice.

Personal Quote: For a long time I struggled with the fact that I was raped. I was angry and frankly did understand how people get away with such terrible things, But then I realized that I could not change what happened to me in the past but I had the power to change my narrative and be empowered by helping others who were unable to speak out. For me, that was the best part of healing. I became the role model that I always hoped to see. And I am proud to be a part of survivor based advocacy and be contributing to a solution for a better and safer world. By creating a mobile application which provides ultimate safety of user and peace of mind for their loved ones. Via an automatic SOS messaging system which will alert the user’s chosen emergency contacts with their location. So the next girl out there does not have to say me too. Because frankly, it’s a club that no one should be part of.”

How will Safe Squad help people around the world? 

The importance of safety can not be overstated. We live in a fast-paced and rapidly changing world. And the sad reality is that travesties happen daily. We all hear about it in the news or see it. As generic as it is to say, you need to be prepared. Because it’s your life and it matters. Safe Squad will provide you with peace of mind knowing that we have your back. Stuff happens in life. But why risk it?

Tell us a little bit about the process of starting Safe Squad, managing your own company, and creating an app. 

It’s notable that I did not come from a STEM background. From a young age, I have always had a love for politics and underrepresented social issues and was actively involved in bi-partisan lobbying with United Nation Foundation’s Girl Up Campaign certainly took STEM-related classes in high school, but it was never anything I intended to pursue. I always planned on majoring in political science. And yet here I am creating an app not exactly in alignment with political science, but my love for the underrepresented is certainly carried out throughout the app. 

The process hasn’t been linear, that’s for sure. People have come up to me and have said “you’re so well accomplished” you’re so well put together,” and while I certainly appreciate the compliment, they only see one side. Meaning that the countless hours of refining my work, experiencing rejection, struggling to afford the app “the blood sweat and tears aren’t shown. Societal messages teach us to not discuss failure due to its negative connotation. Personally, include failure because, with it, there simply wouldn’t be room for growth. Success’s about the just about outcome, it also about the journey. I am proud of the person I have become a result of founding the app.

What are your hopes for the future of Safe Squad?

Personal Quote: “My first hope for the future is to establish additional partnerships with universities and police and provide safe Squad as a resource to them, spread awareness for Safe Squad and help as many individuals in vulnerable settings as possible. My second hope for Safe Squad to go global within the next year. (As of July 26th it will be available to the US and UK residents). For some, financial success is their overall goal. For me,  it’s about helping others. 

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles people face when it comes to safety?  How does safe Squad address those obstacles?

With the current safety apps on the market, there lies five significant issues:

1.) They are based on one’s ability to pay.

2.)They solely cater to a specific demographic.

3.) They are location services apps.

4.) The internal part of the app isn’t discrete.

5.) They are good in theory but fall short functionality wise.

Safe Squad is a gender-neutral mobile application that aims at providing the ultimate safety of user and peace of mind for their loved ones! Safe Squad is a completely free app for everyone, available for use at any time and anywhere! To us, there should be absolutely no cost nor exclusivity associated with safety, because safety is a fundamental right! 

In a sea of apps, we strive to be unique! Safe Squad ensures inclusivity and accessible safety for all demographics, regardless of gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability,  political affiliation, or socioeconomic status.

The internal interface of the app serves as a calendar in order to be discrete and to not be recognized by a potential perpetrator as a safety app. Safe Squad is not a location services app, as the reality is that not everyone wants to be constantly monitored or tracked! We don’t believe you should ever have to compromise one over the other! With this in mind, we emphasize on both privacy and protection. Thus, we provide the app, but it is dependent upon the user to manually enable their emergency contacts and input the event details of their location and time frame. In the event of danger, the automatic SOS messaging system will be triggered and alert the user’s chosen emergency contacts with their location. 

What, if any, obstacles have you had to face as a result of your age?

I have encountered naysayers: Those who have completely disregarded me because of my gender, age, and ethnicity. Making statements such as “ hope Isn’t a successful business model that I was just another young person with my head in the clouds.” I have also worked for people who wanted me to be their “token young person of minority identity.” Initially, claimed to love my passion and ideas; therefore, I didn’t realize it till later on that they were using me as a face for their marketing campaign in order to profit off me.

Do you have any advice for young people hoping to make a difference?

My advice to fellow young people who are seeking to make an impact: Would be to pursue your goals fully, show your passion to the public, spur a positive chain reaction. I would say march to the beat of your own drum” You know who you are and what you’re capable of. So don’t let people stifle you or hold you back.  Don’t follow the societal trends on who you should be. Reality is your not going to fit into society’s box. We are all unique and aren’t cookie cutters. So forge your path. Why be anyone else when you can be the best possible version of yourself. Acknowledge that it’s no easy feat, so always be prepared. That means be proactive and do your homework, including research, and establish the message you wish to promote. Because you can’t just talk the talk, you got to walk the walk.