Name: CJ Scarlet
Business: Tiger Eye Sensor Inc., personal security device
Location: Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, U.S.
Reason for starting: When I was 19, a freshman in college, I was raped by a sheriff’s deputy I was dating. I had no idea about how to protect myself, and I never told because I blamed myself. For the next decade I carried the burden of shame and blame, until I took my power back and became an advocate for others who were victimized. I obtained a master’s degree in Human Violence and advocated for victims of crime as the executive director of Kids First child advocacy center and as the director of victims issues for the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office. But I grew tired of dealing with crime AFTER it occurred; I wanted to do something to keep it from happening at all. I invented the Tiger Eye Security Sensor, a wearable, voice-activated personal security device to accomplish just that.
How do you define success? I will know I am successful when I receive the first email from a customer telling me her life was saved by our Tiger Eye Security Sensor. Our aim is to prevent sexual assaults and other violence, and I won’t rest until our product is in the market and doing its job.
Biggest Success: Biggest career success: I initiated and co-chaired the implementation of the nation’s first statewide automated victim notification system that notifies crime victims before their perpetrators are released from custody. This system was named a national model by the U.S. Department of Justice and is still in place 17 years later.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? Top challenge is getting the funding we need for our venture (around $3.5 million). Raising money as a woman is tough, but raising it as a 53-year-old woman is especially so. Nevertheless, we have raised a good amount of small angel money and continue to present to VCs in Silicon Valley.
Who is your most important role model? Eleanor Roosevelt is my role model for every area of my life. She was an advocate for the poor and downtrodden, an inspiring presenter (although she was terrified of public speaking), an amazing first lady and a savvy politician. She had no qualms about telling FDR (and others) when he was wrong on an issue. She fought tirelessly for equal rights for minorities and women — and human rights in general. She had a level of personal courage and integrity that I can only hope to emulate.
Edited by The Story Exchange