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Hannah Milward is a Nurse from New Zealand who recently co- created a Personal Safety tool helping to serve workers at risk, and vulnerable people within the wider community around the world.
Inspired from personal experiences of dangerous working environments and violent relationships, Hannah is highly motivated to help a diverse range of people with many different safety needs.
From women who have just left dangerous partners, to realtors, health care workers, first ‘daters’, solo travellers and kids walking home from school.
The risks are real and faced by many.
City where you’re from:
Wellington New Zealand
Hiking, cycling, climbing, yoga, martial arts, travel, adventure, tattoos, cooking, art, reading, writing, live music, comedy.. And the list goes on..
I just wish I had time for each and every one 😉
“Always go with the choice that scares you the most,
because that’s the one that is going to require the most from you. “
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I saw a need, a problem that needed a solution and an opportunity to create.
Deep down I think I always knew that I did not fit into a traditional workplace..
Being a creator, rather than an employee offers endless and limitless freedom (with hard work, focus, resilience and an ability to meet challenges with a positive mindset).
I have big goals as far as serving others and I needed a way to do so sustainably without financial or location related restrictions.
Who were your biggest influences? Was there a defining moment in your life?
My Influences have been pretty diverse.
My family (for generations they have owned their own businesses).
My teammates while working overseas in developing countries (who are the most selfless and amazing humans I know)
And some of my favorite authors and teachers. (Like Jo Dispenza and Esther Hicks).
There have been a few defining moments in my life (so far).
I lived and worked as a nurse in Cambodia. On a few occasions things were scary.. But one in particular event was life changing.
A team mate was in a very bad accident in the middle of the jungle.
If we were not behind him, and if it were not for mobile phones. He would have almost certainly bled out on the middle of the night in the jungle.
If he had set “At Risk” (one of our features) to be active during the journey and had been solo, he would have been able to be located upon escalation, even without the ability to reach his phone
Escaping a highly volatile relationship, yet still living in fear of being ‘tracked down’ for two years has been a motivating factor behind some of the Verisafe features.
It makes me feel sick when I think of all the people out there living in fear. Even after leaving a violent situation, there are still huge risks. Many, (women in particular) are too scared to leave their homes because a perpetrator still lives in the neighborhood. Verisafe’s “at risk” can add a layer of confidence to these people’s lives.
How is Verisafe different and unique? What has been your favorite moment with it? What’s the vision?
Many safety apps and systems require an *action* to activate.
Setting up groups before leaving a bar and *hoping* that friends would be sober enough to respond in a worst case scenario, or apps only working when you shake, take a different route home or press a button (if a pop up add does not get in your way). Some ‘safety’ systems even encourage users to fumble around and take a picture of an offender (great way to turn an assault into a murder)..
It seems like many software designers have never actually been victims or faced personal safety risks..
Verisafe gives users a “Help” button an “At Risk” button and the ability to schedule and receive safety check text messages.
A help request generates an alert via phone call, text and email to a user’s contact people. They can then immediately see where that person is located on a map.
But it’s not always wise or possible to make a call for help or press a button.
We needed to create a tool that would still deliver an escalation alert after activating a ‘Risk Status’ even if a phone was broken, out of battery, or stolen.
(All Verisafe alerts are sent from a secure server).
We needed a tool that would discreetly track users without needing to get their phones out around volatile people. (After setting ‘At Risk’ for a chosen period of time, GPS data is picked up and logged onto the Verisafe server at ten min intervals).
At any stage users can add notes which are sent and stored, alongside location details.
We needed to be able to add multiple people to an emergency contact list, and to have these people validate their contact number/s and email addresses to ensure that alerts would be delivered correctly in times of need.
We wanted to create a tool that we could use when travelling alone, one that would easily allow users to change mobile numbers while not affecting emergency contacts in any way.
My favourite moments on the verisafe journey have been around supporting not for profit groups that hire volunteers that face daily risks.
Being a semi-finalist for New Zealander of the Year Awards in the “Innovation” category was an amazing moment too. Every single day involves learning, and I love learning. So really. Every day has an element of joy!
The vision is to one day create a trust where we can help fund community projects and support people in developing countries – especially those at risk and with marginalized people (or those disabilities) to gain education and skills for their own enterprises
How did you come up with this idea?
This idea came about after thinking about situations that are common while working or travelling alone. When travelling, police will need more information about a missing person than just a phone number and last known location.
What are the next steps?
The next step with Verisafe is to add a ‘full profile’ feature, giving our users the ability to add ID, pictures, health conditions, next of kin, insurance and passport details and customize all emergency directives. All that information will to be able to be received by a 24/7 monitoring service that will respond if no one else can.
If you do Facebook ads, what types of creatives/campaigns do you use (we like specifics)? If you don’t, what untapped marketing channels do you take advantage of?
I use facebook ad’s occasionally, (at the moment) we will be ramping this up when we release our ‘safety vault’ and monitoring option.
We do a great deal of direct email marketing, networking events, engaging with universities, community groups etc.
I like to build mutually beneficial relationships with businesses that share our goals and values and who are looking to offer ‘personal safety’ as an opt in or as something that adds value to safety training/ first aid etc.
I use social media (twitter, facebook, linkedin and instagram) daily to share content and create useful infographics every week or so using either Canva or Snappa.
Did you experience failure along the way? What did you learn from it?
I don’t know if I’d call it failure, but there are always ups and downs. It has been a steep learning curve moving from a hands on profession to the business world.
There are people who simply ‘don’t care’ about the safety of their teams who work in risky environments and this can be a little disturbing.
But at the end of the day, we want to work with people who do care.
So it’s rejection, but a blessing in disguise.
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have.
I’ve found it useful to have a purpose much bigger than myself, I want to have the freedom to give back and serve the wider community.
I want to be able to give Verisafe to vulnerable people (and not for profit groups) who can’t afford a safety tool, also recycle and re- distribute old phones along the way.
Long term I want to be able to volunteer in developing countries every year – team up with like minded people who want to teach people how to make online businesses from poor and remote communities.
When times are tough, always seek a ‘better feeling thought’ and try to visualise exactly, and in great detail, how things will be when you achieve your goals.
Surround yourself with positive inspiring people, books, video’s, vision boards, affirmations etc.
Don’t be scared to cut negative people from your life, if they are dragging you down, or draining your energy. You might have outgrown them…
Eat well, move lots, get good sleep and maintain your close relationships.
Find your peak work times and make them work for you. Everyone is different some like the 5am ‘get up and go’, others prefer to smash out their work at 10pm.
Tune in and take note of when you are in the ‘zone’.
Be stubborn in your vision and desire.
Believe it and you WILL get there.
Desire + Strong Belief = eventual manifestation of the outcomes you dream of!
Teach us something about social media. Can you recommend any favorite websites to learn that topic?
I have found it incredible, how many people and businesses engage on social media when I post about ‘life’ just general day to day realities I’m facing.
Showing our human side has become a really important part of Verisafe.
It feels like people out there these days are far more willing to trust a human, rather than a logo.
- LinkedIn and Linkedin Today
- Quora – ask any kind of question! It’s a great tool!
While working on your project, have you come across any interesting bit of knowledge that you’d like to share? (i.e. any new research finding, any new platforms, some novel management technique, etc)
It takes on average 72 hours to find a missing person. If found at all.
It is estimated that some 8 million children go missing around the world each year
In the United Kingdom, The Huffington Post reported in 2012, over 140,000 children go missing each year. (WOW) that’s shocking.
In 2015, there were 110,114 family violence investigations by NZ Police (That’s just NEW ZEALAND).
What daily habits do you have that allow you to perform at your peak?
Good sleep habits.
Daily Yoga, daily workout, *good* coffee, real food.
Creative time, nature time and social time
Finding my personal peak ‘work hours’ has been great. I find i work well early mornings and in the evenings.
I batch tasks so that I don’t get too scattered.
Everyday I look for things to appreciate and never have to look far.
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
Positive aspects.. Of EVERYTHING.
We get what we focus on 😉
Have fun in what you are doing. Make it fun. Seek a thought that actually *feels* good every day.
If it’s a decision between dwelling on a negative comment or using it to create something positive, pivot, change tact or think differently.
Choose the positive.
It’s simple advice but not preached enough!
Walk us step-by-step through the process that you had to go through to get from the early stages to where you are today.
Hardcore personal experiences 🙂
Idea and brainstorming phase
Development of a web page and basic ‘app’ with HELP button and Safety Check sms features
Set up all social media channels and gathered feedback
Refinement of website and addition of “At Risk” feature
Hustle hustle hustle
First clients on board
Made PDF guides
Made videos https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC78suRH1_MMn_ElNXXWZMug
Found another shareholder (amazing guy with great ideas)
More hustling, more clients
Further upgrades and additions to Verisafe app and website
Hired aan wesome intern and now ready to take on the world 😉
What are some of your favorite books?
You Are The Placebo
The Divine Matrix
The Spontaneous Healing of Belief
The Way of the Peaceful Warrior
Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple years?
I can see Verisafe being the safety tool of choice for many different sectors and will have re-sellers around the world. We will be making a huge positive impact on the community, serving vulnerable people and family violence survivors.
Personally, I will be more heavily involved in the community side of the business and lining up groups that we can help in many ways.