Dynamic duos: Jacqueline Ros and Andrea Perdomo
They put security into everyone's hands with technology
(Editor's note: This is one of ColoradoBiz's “dynamic duos” of Colorado business, who reflect on their working relationships, what brought them together and where they’re going.)
Jacqueline Ros and Andrea Perdomo
They say mixing business and pleasure can pose hazards, but if we travel back to our youthful yesteryears, you might recall the enterprising kids who commonly crafted their own imaginative inventions with complementary businesses, and often alongside their best friends.
Jacqueline Ros, 26, was inspired to launch her company, Revolar, after her sister fell victim to sexual assault twice before age 17. Revolar aims to raise awareness and arm women with a portable tool to avoid misadventure. The device alerts five designated contacts who know to call immediately in precarious situations, enabled by location-based wireless technology.
“We want to put security into everybody’s hands,” Ros says. “It should be a right to feel safe, not a privilege.”
When Ros graduated from the University of Florida, she saved up for a provisional patent, then incorporation documents, but the wearable technology Ros developed needed a co-founder to get off the ground, and that’s where Andrea Perdomo came in.
Ros planted roots in Colorado after spending her childhood on the move. Before her father passed away when she was 16, he told her to go wherever she was happiest as a kid, so she settled in Denver, working for Teach for America. Perdomo made the move to the Mile High City to work for a fashion-centric startup after spending more than eight years in retail. She quickly realized she “wanted to make more of an impact,” she explains.
When the two young women met in 2013 through mutual friends, they were “instantly best friends,” Ros recalls. Indeed, the co-founders laugh constantly, finish each other's’ sentences, and assign credit and compliments to each other incessantly.
Not long after their initial meeting, Ros wooed Perdomo to join her in the beginnings of the new business in 2014. “I needed help,” Ros admits.
Perdomo, also 26, says their cultural commonalities – both are Latina – set a rock-solid foundation. “We have the same values. I resonated with Jackie’s story from the get-go,” Perdomo says. “I looked at her business through the lens of having been born in Columbia and moved to the U.S. with my family for safety and security purposes. I liked the idea of empowering people to feel safe.”
Ros says Perdomo’s mission and vision for the product, along with a knack for finance and strategy gave her confidence that she had picked the right partner.
While they’re both “doers,” and “hate being bored,” Ros says her co-founder is strikingly organized. “We have opposite skill sets, but we divide and conquer.”
To dedicate maximum time and attention to Revolar while simultaneously holding down multiple part-time jobs, Ros and Perdomo became roommates in 2014.
“We found every affordable startup tool available on the internet and took the time to lay a foundation so we could scale quickly,” Perdomo says. They went through contract engineers until they found the company that originally built Life Alert, the medical notification device for seniors, for the first device.
Their first pitch competition was at Denver Startup Week in September 2014 where they won free legal advice and SEO services and met mentors who have helped along the way. The pair also completed an $85,000 Kickstarter fundraising campaign, and to date has raised north of $3 million in funding.
“I said, “OK, Drea [Ros’ nickname for her cofounder], you’re officially in charge of the Kickstarter. My job was always public speaking, PR and Andrea did everything internal – ops, scaling, HR. One of my better qualities is I’m a good delegator,” Ros says.
Milestones include launching the product nationwide in eight months as of May 2016. The team has grown to 24 people.
“There is an inherent trust between us,” Perdomo says. “We treat it like a relationship. It requires a lot of work. We have check-ins and go on walks. We put each other first. I saw her as my other half in this process.” Perdomo and Ros also say they pay each other the same.
What does success look like as Revolar continues on their journey?
“We want to draw awareness," Perdomo says. “Until we change the culture to be one of compassion and respect, our work is not done.”
Perdomo says she can translate Ros’ vision, meanwhile encouraging her friend to slow down and relax occasionally so as to not burn out.
“Their joint ambition has always impressed me more than anything else,” says Colin McIntosh, VP of strategic partnerships at Revolar and a friend of Ros’ since high school. “They’re attached at the hip. They have a shared vision and happily bring everyone else along for the ride. You couldn’t choose more perfect cofounders for Revolar.”
Ros says Revolar has a bright trajectory, but she says any future projects she takes on, she wants her best friend and co-founder by her side.
And at the end of the day, Ros says, “The business needs both of us.”