Sean Petterson of StrongArm Tech Answers Four Questions for Founders
StrongArm Tech is a safety science company that develops data collection, assessment, and safety solutions for the industrial worker.
1. Why did you start StrongArm Technologies? Do you remember the moment when you first thought of the idea?
I grew up seeing people like my father endure preventable physical pain on their bodies while providing for their family. “Manual laborers” or “blue-collar workers” – unlike more traditional sporting athletes – have been overlooked in an age of rapidly evolving innovative technology and equipment. We didn’t want to stand by and watch this injustice continue to impact the backbone of society, the lifeblood of our economy, the people who build the world around us. That is why we started StrongArm nearly seven years ago, to keep Industrial Athletes Proud, Protected, and Productive.
I started making a lifting aid with nylon straps and hooks that evolved into building exoskeletons in the dorms at RIT, where the company started. That journey involved many iterations of products and services that tackled that issue. From exoskeletons to our current FUSE Risk Management Platform, we’ve learned that this challenge, the 400 million people who are injured every year at work around the globe, is much larger than ourselves. We’re obsessed with the problem, not the solution. That’s why Mike and I have built a team of passionate, dynamic, and driven people who are working with us to make this mission a reality.
2. How do you see StrongArm Technologies impacting how we live our lives?
Three trillion dollars is spent every year around the globe on injuries and death in the workplace. The business impact is significant but the real impact is in sending workers home safe. That’s 38,812 workers injured every hour just from going to do the job that puts bread on the table and provides for the family. Where the FUSE platform is deployed we have shown a reduction of injury by over 40% year over year. That’s 40% fewer Industrial Athletes taking pain killers and icing their backs instead of playing ball with their kids, 40% fewer people who would normally be unemployed because an injury prevents them from doing what they are trained to do.
For everyday people, we don’t recognize the direct impact on the health and safety of these Industrial Athletes. When we go to a grocery store, order something-next day delivery online, or even step into our homes every day – the number of hands that have touched these things and made it possible is mind-boggling. These preventable injuries cost hundreds of thousands of dollars that ultimately results in delayed fulfillment, reduced quality, and sub-optimal performance – a cost that eventually is passed along to the consumer.
3. How has New York and Newlab positively impacted the development of your business?
After graduating college, StrongArm had a list of cities to choose from to set up shop for its small team. New York was the one ecosystem that had top-notch talent and capital, access to customers, and access to transportation. The one thing missing was a place for a then-hardware company to rapidly prototype. Newlab has been that perfect missing piece. We’ve built six commercially deployed and unique hardware products in the facilities in Newlab. In addition to making us more nimble, Newlab has also magnified the impact of the other great factors about NewYork. The community at Newlab is innovative, welcoming, and most importantly, collaborative.
4. What do you see as your responsibility to make technology ethical and accessible to all?
The FUSE Platform was built to keep Industrial Athletes proud, protected, and productive. That means every aspect of our company including data. Data privacy is a key priority, and as such we have taken data privacy as a first-class feature by investing in our product and infrastructure to receive ISO 27001 certification. As we work with unions and various organizations, we are an Industrial Athlete company above all else. We have strict stipulations against tracking productivity/biometrics. While we specifically try to avoid delivering data that can be used for punitive action and only work with enterprises that invest in the well-being of their workforces, we’d be naive to assume companies always do the right thing. As such, if there’s any doubt that our partners are similarly aligned and accountable, we reserve the right to terminate the relationship. Finally, with the advent of industry 4.0, we’re taking an approach to ensure our technology and value can be seen in various industries from fortune 100s down to the small family-owned facilities everywhere in the United States and beyond.
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