Being a firefighter is a difficult job. But without actually experiencing it, most people never even realize just how easy it can be to get disoriented in the dark, heavy smoke.
That’s what prompted volunteer firefighter Zach Green to start his company, MN8 FoxFire. The company makes heat-resistant safety bands that glow in the dark to help firefighters see and stay oriented in the dark and heavy smoke.
Green originally learned about photoluminescent technology while watching a special report about the World Trade Center. It was used in the stairwells to help people find their way out. So he thought it might have practical applications for firefighters as well.
He used that same type of technology to develop silicone stretchable bands that fit around firefighter helmets and glow in the dark. He spent about six months creating the bands and pitching them to fire stations around Cincinnati. He told CNN:
“I made $5,000 basically selling the bands myself.”
That’s how he knew he was on to something. So he officially launched his new company. In his first two years in business, Green maxed out his credit cards and refinanced his house. But he also raised $1.5 million in venture capital.
Now, the heat resistant safety bands are used by more than 60,000 firefighters around the country and even overseas. And the company even creates other glow-in-the-dark products like exit signs, radio straps, artwork, and more. Green also plans to expand his product line to include safety items for stadiums, buildings, and schools.
It’s a pretty simple but incredibly necessary idea. The impact that a simple glow-in-the-dark band could have on firefighter safety is huge. And while it may seem obvious now, it took a long time for this type of safety practice to be implemented.
Since Green worked as a volunteer firefighter, he knew the safety risks firsthand. So he had the proper motivation, along with the practical knowledge about what type of product might be able to help in such a situation. Someone with no firefighting experience may have created a bulky or impractical solution without knowing how it could impact the actual firefighters wearing it.
That’s why entrepreneurs come from so many different fields and backgrounds. People tend to come up with solutions that fit problems in their own lives and experiences. So this volunteer firefighter came up with a solution that could have a huge impact on the safety and performance of firefighters around the world.
Image: MN8 FoxFire
What a wonderful story. Indeed, entrepreneurs do solve problems, and come from all walks of life.
So true! That’s why we see so many great niche products.