Inside Track

Startup Showcase: How Safety Skin Keeps Athletes Safe at Night

As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, those of us who enjoy staying active outside are confronted with some safety challenges. Biking, running, or even walking outside after work or in the early morning hours raises the risk of injury with distracted drivers, tired drivers, or worse.

Additionally, during Halloween, we have to worry about our kids and while many think about the candy, the alarmist in us also worries about their clothing and masks. If only there was a way to brighten the night on their path to cavities.

This is exactly the core challenge that John Kulbis was thinking about when he created Safety Skin, a Comcast SportsTech alum who had a light bulb moment back in 2010 when the genesis of his company evolved after cleaning up paint. When he went for a run with the flecks of paint still on his arm, he noticed the white stripe appeared more brilliant, helping him stand out more in the dark.

Where others would see just a brushstroke of used paint, John was able to envision the birth of a new company that could help save lives and bring safety to athletes of every stripe.

We recently had a chance to have a conversation with John about what he’s been working on since finishing the accelerator program and what’s next for his company.

You joined our accelerator program during a global pandemic, one of the most challenging times in modern history—what did that teach you about yourself and the work you’re doing as a startup founder?
A simple question, but a complex answer! If there is one thing any founder or startup must understand, it’s that CHALLENGING is the real name of the game. You have to truly want to be doing this; putting yourself out of your comfort zone, learning, failing, and then a small victory. Repeat, repeat, until you’ve hit scale! Being a startup founder is an endurance sport in itself. Being a part of the accelerator during a global pandemic was an opportunity to slow down while pushing forward in many other aspects as a founder.

Was there a moment in the program when you realized that joining the program was not just a good decision, but an important shift for your business and momentum as a startup?
Absolutely. However, I would say there were moments in the program when we realized the impact of joining the program was a catastrophic shift in our business. From the wealth of knowledge and experience that we were met within the classroom each day, to the roundtable discussions, fireside chats, group exercises, and weekly walk-off Wednesdays, you simply can’t experience these learnings in a setting outside of the SportsTech Accelerator.

What aspect of the program did you enjoy the most? What was the hardest part for you? What surprised you?
What I enjoyed the most was listening. Committing to being present each day, listening and absorbing, had the most impact on me, as a founder. The most challenging part was being virtual, but a challenge we all had to experience and overcome together. I was surprised by my ability to execute on some of the more outgoing exercises, where I would have normally been the more quiet and reserved individual.

You’ve had a few months since you’ve finished the program. Tell us about your traction since – media coverage, new customers, milestones, growth, investment, etc.?
Since the finish date of the program, we’ve experienced some great milestones; our EU Patent officially issued in September, we’ve just begun working with several new brick and mortar retailers as well The Feed, a top Colorado sports nutrition provider. Most recently, working with our program partner, USA Cycling, our Member Benefits Partnership has launched!

What are you working on right now that you’re most excited about? Or, what new sports tech trends do you see that are most exciting?
One trending topic—something that I am personally really excited about—is inclusivity. We are working on making both our products and brand, as inclusive as possible. It’ll be extremely exciting when we can finally say that we have a product for everyone!

What advice do you have for our next class of SportsTech startups?
Come each day with your fullest self, ready to discuss, question theories, and experiment. Be open to new ideas. Don’t hold back.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the majority of pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas, at non-intersections, and at night. One of their primary recommendations is to try to wear reflective clothing or vests to increase visibility. With a product on the market like Safety Skin, for athletes running, jogging, and biking, the future looks bright.

You can follow John and Safety Skin on their website, Instagram, and Facebook. Be sure to check back with us all week as he shares personal stories of his entrepreneurial journey with our social media audience.

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