Yasmine Mustafa drew directly from personal experience when founding ROAR for Good — an innovative, mission-driven company developing tech to keep women safe in some of the most vulnerable circumstances.
The first piece of inspiration was her emotional experience as a refugee who survived the Gulf War and the insecurity of being an undocumented immigrant.
“I was constantly in a walking-on-eggshells environment,” she says. “I wasn’t sure if someone was going to find out [my status], and I was wondering if I was being exploited at work. I always had this fear in the back of my mind because of being discovered.”
The second piece of inspiration came when she did become an American citizen and took her passport backpacking across South America. Yasmine was shocked to encounter so many fellow travelers who had experienced sexual harassment and sexual assault. Right after she returned home, a friend and neighbor was raped. At that moment, she knew she had to do something.
Drawing from her extensive entrepreneurial experience (graduating with a major in entrepreneurship, launching 123LinkIt for bloggers and the Philadelphia chapter of nonprofit Girl Develop It) Yasmine founded ROAR for Good in 2014. The company started as a business-to-consumer platform equipping women with stylish wearables designed to emit a loud alarm in the case of an aggressor, and to message emergency contacts with location information immediately (there’s also a silent alarm option).
It has since pivoted to prioritize business-to-business duties, outfitting hotels with wearables for their staff. ROAR for Good’s product not only meets a new law requiring hotels to protect their staff, but it also meets a staggering need for safety in an industry where more than half of the employees have experienced sexual harassment.
“It’s just horrible what they go through,” Mustafa says. “They open the door never knowing what’s on the other side. Imagine the anguish and mental anxiety.”
In this episode, we dive deep into Yasmine’s experience as a refugee, as a woman, and as an inspiring social entrepreneur striving to make a difference. We learn more about the origin story of ROAR for Good and what ultimately led them to switch from a business-to-consumer to a business-to-business model, as well insight into entering the technological world with no real “tech” experience, and how she was able to build a successful, revolutionary tech product anyway.
“At every event, no matter what, someone would approach us with their personal story. That’s what ultimately drives you…I would actually go and re-read testimonial emails as motivation any time I got down.” –Yasmine Mustafa
- Workplace safety
- How to develop a tech business without being a “techie”
- The way testing and iterations can lead to a better product—and a different one that you might have expected to make
- How a pivot from business-to-consumer to business-to-business allows for a lot more growth and greater scale
- The exposure to sexual harassment hospitality workers face
- How Yasmine’s experience as a refugee and undocumented immigrant informs ROAR for Good
- Strategies to grow a startup sustainably
Links from the Episode:
- ROAR for Good
- Girl Develop It
- “#MeToo and Why No One Should Be Afraid to Earn a Wage” Yasmine Mustafa TEDxPhiladelphiaWomen
- “The Birth Lottery Does Not Define You” Yasmine Mustafa TEDxPhiladelphi
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