Tiger Eye Sensor’s CJ Scarlet Goes From Founder To Writer – GrepBeat

After CJ Scarlet’s prototype for Tiger Eye Sensor failed to find enough funding to manufacture a commercial product and bring it to market, she turned to writing books.

As a crime survivor who was sexually assaulted twice as a teenager, CJ Scarlet built a career helping others and stopping them from going through what she went through.

At the age of 30, she returned to college and earned a graduate degree in human violence. As an advocate for other survivors of crime, she acknowledges that it took her years to regain her power and get help for her own trauma.

Later, she took on the role of Director of Victims Issues for the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office. Scarlet loved her work with crime survivors, but longed for a way to create a bigger impact.

“It was very frustrating because I was dealing with situations after they happened,” Scarlet said. “And I wanted to do something to stop them from happening at all.”

Starting in 2013, after the death of her husband, Scarlet put those long-standing frustrations to work in a new Triangle-based startup: Tiger Eye Sensor. His goal was to stop the crime in the middle of it.

The wearable device allowed victims to call for help immediately. The device would record the perpetrator’s audio and video and send the data to the 911 center. The police could see where the victim was and immediately come to the rescue. The device even announces to the attacker that the police are on the way, and to leave the victim alone.

Scarlet wanted to empower the wearer to feel more confident to stay safe and scare off would-be perpetrators before they commit violence. In 2015, NC TECH named Tiger Eye one of its top 10 startups to watch.

To date, no technology comes close to the level of what Tiger Eye was aiming to do, Scarlet said.

Tiger Eye had sparked interest from jewelry company Swarovski to create jewelry around Tiger Eye, and several other companies have expressed interest in using and promoting its potentially life-saving technology, Scarlet said.

But in 2016, Tiger Eye Sensor stopped. Although the company raised funds for its prototype, it failed to convince investors to fund the full production of a commercial product. One problem was that the prototype’s speaker wasn’t as loud as hoped.

The main challenge, Scarlet added, was how much harder it is to sell hardware than software, and how much more expensive it is to bring it to market.

Another challenge Scarlet faced was being an older founder (in her 50s). She said it was frustrating to go in front of all-male investors and have them look at her like she wasn’t supposed to be there. Her heavier weight at the time could also have led to an implicit bias, she said.

Ahead of its time

Scarlet thinks Tiger Eye Sensor had all the right elements, but the timing just wasn’t right. Maybe if they had been launched a few years later during the #MeToo movement, things would have been different. But at the time, she says, male investors quickly became uncomfortable when they brought up sexual assault. Rape is not a happy subject, and it often makes investors squirm in their seats.

But Scarlet feels the world is changing now. There are more incubators and funds for women than ever, and it remains important for female founders to get their name out there.

“I think there was a bias against it, an unconscious bias,” Scarlet said. “So I would say to the founders of tech, especially women, don’t give up your power. Tell your story and stick with it. If you get into the wrong rooms, find new rooms. Someone out there will love it. We just didn’t find it in time.

Scarlet also advises other founders to recognize when someone is not contributing to their business. Different minds and constructive criticism are helpful, but naysayers are something else entirely.

“It’s nice to have horseflies, people who will push you in different ways,” Scarlet said. “But if someone is clearly a detractor of what you’re doing, they don’t need to be in your space.”

Scarlet is now publishing books in her “Badass Grandma” series

Ever since Tiger Eye Sensor shut down, Scarlet has tried (and failed) to retire. Instead, she writes, with much of her books inspired by her time at Tiger Eye. “The Badass Girl’s Guide: Uncommon Strategies to Outsmart Predatorswas her first book, published in 2017, which focused on helping women protect themselves from sexual assault.

When Scarlet had grandchildren and started having nightmares about their safety, she also wrote and published the books “Badass Parenting: An Irreverent Guide to Raising Safe, Savvy, and Confident Children” and “heroic parenting.”

She also sits on the board of the North Carolina LGBT Chamber of Commerce and helps women-owned businesses achieve certification.

So while she says quitting Tiger Eye was extremely painful, it was by no means the end for her.

“I also recognize that there are no failures,” Scarlet said. “Every experience is a learning experience. My worst enemies are some of my best teachers, and some of my worst “failures” have also been my best teachers. »

If she hadn’t lost Tiger Eye, Scarlet might never have launched her “Badass Grandma” line of books.

“If it didn’t work out, give yourself time to grieve, but know that the universe doesn’t necessarily say no,” Scarlet said. “It’s saying ‘not yet’ or ‘I have something better in mind.’ You will find a way to do something with it. If you are an inventor, if you are a creator, if you are a maker, you will find a way to make, to invent, to create something else. It is in your blood.

Lola R. McClure