On Monday, HC Launch warmly welcomed Quinn Fitzgerald ’11 as the distinguished guest for their first Founder Forum event of the semester. The audience, predominantly composed of aspiring entrepreneurs, had the privilege of hearing an engaging story that intertwined innovation with personal safety. Quinn Fitzgerald shared her journey from her academic exploration in peace and conflict studies to her foray into entrepreneurship, culminating in the creation of Flare, a revolutionary personal safety company.
Quinn’s leap into entrepreneurship wasn’t premeditated but rather spurred by a college assignment that tasked her with launching a startup. The result was Flare, a company designed to tackle personal safety concerns head-on. What fueled her passion for this endeavor was a deeply personal experience – an assault that ignited her determination to address a long-standing societal issue.
Throughout the event, Quinn stressed that entrepreneurship is not just a career but an approach, a unique way of problem-solving and confronting challenges. She also shed light on the soft skills she acquired along her entrepreneurial journey, which proved instrumental to her success.
Flare was in the spotlight during the event, presented as a company specializing in personal safety, with an innovative app and a wristband. Established in 2016 and recently acquired by new ownership, this transition marked a significant milestone in its evolution. Quinn’s current focus is on coaching and mentoring other entrepreneurs, following her successful sale of Flare.
Quinn shared her venture into an industry with a centuries-old history. Her aim was to offer a more comprehensive solution to multifaceted safety concerns, moving beyond conventional methods like pepper spray. She engaged potential users rigorously through surveys and focus groups, gaining profound insights into their needs and circumstances.To develop a product that truly resonated with the market, she began with product sketches and employed 3D printing technology. The search for the right engineers was pivotal, and she successfully assembled a talented team by offering them a modest stake in the company’s ownership. The initial 3D printed prototype evolved gradually, incorporating features such as a chip and a button to enhance functionality.
Quinn also discussed her journey to secure funding. She commenced with competitions as her initial source of financing, ultimately succeeding in securing three rounds of capital. The first round brought in $750,000, the second an impressive $3 million, and the third attracted even more substantial investments, thanks to the support of both venture capitalists and angel investors.
Quinn’s narrative provides a wealth of insights for budding entrepreneurs, illustrating the path from concept to funding. Her story is a testament to the transformative power of innovation and unwavering determination in addressing complex societal challenges, one step at a time.
Thanks to Liz Garfield ’24 for writing this HC Launch recap!