Interview with Robb Monkman of React Mobile: “Transforming the Way People Call for Help”

This digital, ever-connected, age of the 21st century might be upon us now, but the perennial problem of personal security still remains. You might have all of the latest mobile devices that money can buy on your person, but once someone pulls out a knife on you in some dimly-lit alley, then those high tech devices can only do so much.

Enter React Mobile. This simple, yet ingeniously effective, personal security solution harnesses the power of modern technologies like Bluetooth, GPS, and online social networks to help people achieve peace of mind when they leave the safety of their homes. It’s like having your own personal security guard on hand.

Here with us today is Robb Monkman, Founder and CEO of React Mobile, to give our readers a quick look on how the company came to be and how it transformed the way people do personal security.

Welcome to HSL, Robb!

First, let’s talk a bit about React Mobile’s origins.

We know that an armed robbery incident led to the creation of the React Mobile concept, but we want to understand how the app was conceptualized. What were the main considerations that went into its production (the features it should have, how it contacts a person’s security “network” and emergency numbers, etcetera)? Why the decision to make it free?

To bring your audience up to speed, several years ago while attending university, I was the victim of an armed robbery and hostage situation that left a lasting impression on me. Imagine how you would feel knowing you may lose your life and couldn’t call for help. I am lucky to be alive today but my friends and family felt helpless when I shared what happened. I soon learned that thousands of people everyday are in a situation where they desperately need help but can’t call. I made it my mission to solve this problem. I knew there had to be a better way to empower our friends, family, and those who care about the safety of the people they’re responsible for. We created a simple yet powerful personal safety platform that is transforming the way people call for help in emergencies and we’re making tomorrow a safer place.

To answer your question about the design of our solution, everything that we have developed as part of our platform (apps, panic button, enterprise solution, API) has been the result of customer input, validation and feedback. Over the last 2 years, we evolved from a simple mobile app into a powerful emergency communications platform and we are already helping people all over the world. When we first developed the React Mobile app, we were helping college students stay safe on and off campus and the idea was to put the power of a blue light emergency phone or call box in the hands of every student carrying a smartphone. Since then, our app evolved and we have learned that there is a need for our React Mobile well beyond the campus environment and in everyday life.


As a company, we are hyper-focused on the voice of our customers, and the feedback we receive and seek out from our users has helped to shape the React solution.

For example, early in our development, we learned that in many emergencies, an app alone may not be enough. What do you do if you can’t get to your phone to call for help? This led to the development of the React Sidekick Bluetooth safety device. With this endeavor, we tested the waters on Kickstarter to see if this was a product people would actually buy. Even after Kickstarter, we continued to iterate on the industrial design of the Sidekick, and the result is a small, modular, gender-neutral product that can be taken with you anywhere. We successfully blew through our Kickstarter goal and began shipping the commercial version of the Sidekick last April. Although React Mobile is a software company, we developed this critical piece of hardware (the Sidekick safety device) to make our solution more powerful so our users can get help fast! One click activation when phone screen is locked or phone is out of reach is all it takes with the Sidekick.

After several enterprise deployments at large universities and other organizations, we realized that we had built a powerful emergency communications platform that can be leveraged by large corporations and schools. Today React Mobile has enterprise offerings that include the React Dispatch Console, The React API, custom branding offerings and we have been integrating our alerting capabilities into other security platforms.

With regards to our app being free, the base React Mobile safety app is our entry level product and will always be free to download and use. Our app is a powerful standalone solution that we can give away to the world because we make our revenue from Sidekick sales and sales of our enterprise offerings.

ReactMobile App Screen Shot

The React Sidekick is a pretty nifty device. Was it originally planned along with the React Mobile app, or did the idea for it came much later on? We think that a lot of our readers will be interested in its history.

As mentioned, we originally launched as a stand-alone safety app. We invented the Sidekick based on the feedback from our users, who wanted a way to issue a React SOS alert without having to find and unlock a phone that might not be within reach. Simply click the React Sidekick button to send out a widespread React alert to trusted contacts.

So, people liked the idea of the React Sidekick so much, that your Kickstarter campaign was an immediate success! Did you envision this kind of reception for the Sidekick from the get-go? How did you feel when the project was successfully funded?

Kickstarter is a great platform and our team had such a fun time during the month of our campaign. We had a feeling that there would be a positive reception to the React Sidekick, but we didn’t know until we took a chance and put the product out there. We garnered a lot of great support on Kickstarter and I would recommend it as a platform to test out new product ideas. Not only did we validate the need for the Sidekick, but we also raised enough from backers to go to production.

React Mobile Team

What did your Kickstarter campaign experience taught you about the market for personal security devices in this Internet age? Any key takeaways?

Being the first personal safety device on Kickstarter, we took a chance and had no idea how the Kickstarter audience would respond. At the end of the day, safety is not fun, it is not sexy and people don’t like talking about things that are scary or unsafe. Since going to market, we noticed other “me too” safety device campaigns that seem to be doing well so I think the market is definitely ready for modern, innovative safety products that can give people peace of mind.

In light of your success with Kickstarter, do you envision yourself crowdfunding another project in the future?

With our current growth and exciting momentum, it’s unlikely that we will introduce any new products on Kickstarter. Still, I would recommend crowdfunding as a way to validate market need to any emerging company.

Those are some great answers, Robb. Say, we move on to the features of the React Sidekick? This device proved to be popular enough that Seattle University actually partnered with you guys for a public safety program for students. That’s very impressive. Care to share more about the Sidekick’s features? Our readers might also appreciate a quick and easy run-through of how they can properly use it (along with the React Mobile app, of course) to ensure their safety.

Watch this 1-minute video on how we are enhancing the safety of our users:

What Is The React Sidekick Safety Device and How Does It Work?

The React Sidekick is a personal safety device that pairs with the React Mobile safety app putting security within reach when it counts. The Sidekick is the fastest way to reach a wide network in an emergency and eliminates the need to find and unlock a smartphone to call for help. Simply click the React Sidekick button to send out a widespread React alert to trusted contacts. The React Sidekick was successfully funded on Kickstarter and the first production units will be commercially available for sale starting on March 16th!

What Is the React Mobile™ Safety App?

React Mobile is a trusted, powerful safety app that turns your smartphone into a powerful lifeline. Our app has a “Follow-Me” feature that lets you share your location with friends and family so they can track the your whereabouts in real-time and follow you to safety. Let your trusted contacts know where you’re going, how long you’re going to be gone for and include a personalized message. If the duration of a “Follow-Me” session expires, our app will automatically send out a message to your emergency contacts letting them know that they should check in with you. The React Mobile safety app is perfect for walking or running after dark, for realtors meeting new clients, for students walking through campus alone and for parents that want to watch over their children. React puts security within reach when it counts.
In an emergency, simply slide our app control to the “Help Me” position to send out a widespread to your emergency contacts letting them know where you are and that you need help. Users can optionally post React alerts to Facebook and Twitter to let a wider network of people know about an emergency. Whenever a React alert is activated our app automatically dials the local authorities.

Who Is Our Solution For?

The React Sidekick’s modular, gender-neutral design makes it accessible to anyone. The React Sidekick is perfect for those with an active lifestyle, and brings peace of mind when: running alone, walking through parking lots, meeting new clients, dating, and alerting a wide network whenever your phone is out of reach. The React Sidekick can be worn on an clip or keychain carabiner. React Mobile safety solution is also a great tool to give to children and teens so that can easily call for help in an emergency.

Check out these great demo videos:

React Sidekick Bluetooth Panic Button Demo

React Mobile Safety App

It has been mentioned that the React Sidekick’s battery lasts for one year. Any option to have this battery recharged or replaced? If yes, how and where can people procure new batteries?

Yes, the React Sidekick uses a replaceable, standard CR2032 cell battery. The same cell battery you find in watches (made by Energizer, Duracell, etc.)

Any plans on adding more functionality to the Sidekick? Would you make changes or updates to it in the near future?

Most of our development efforts are focused on enhancements to our platform. We will be making some big announcements in the coming months about our enterprise solution as well as other partners who are consuming our API, adding a critical safety SOS feature to their offerings. We will also be connecting other bluetooth devices to our platform, but that’s all I can share for now 🙂

Now, we understand that people purchase the React Sidekick with the hope that they will NEVER have to use it in their lives. However, there might still come a chance that someone would need to press the panic button to call for help.

Do you have any “success stories” wherein the Sidekick helped someone get out of danger? Or if there’s none, would you care to share some great feedback that you received from Sidekick users out on the field?

We have numerous stories of students, runners and real estate agents using our solution to enhance their safety. Current customers and partners include, Seattle University, Occidental College, BNSF Railway, Windermere, National Association of Realtors, Take Back the Night and other significant enterprise customers. There is strong interest from retail as well and our product is being sold on, Amazon, Fingerhut and we will be rolling out to major retail stores this year.

Here are some testimonials:

“React Mobile offers students, faculty and staff an additional layer of security that complements our current campus safety efforts.”

Tim Marron – Director of Campus Safety, Seattle University

“The React Sidekick is the fastest way to reach a wide network during an emergency .“

Safe Campus, University of Washington

“We pride ourselves on making safety our number one concern and hope to expand the React Mobile program to additional offices in the near future.”

OB Jacobi – President, Windermere Real Estate

“Against competing products such as V-Alert, we chose React Mobile as it offers the most robust solution and best product currently on the market”

Ace Wong - COO Panther 911/Digistar Asia

“We are fortunate to have technological options like the React Sidekick to help us in emergencies.”

We do thank you for the time you spent answering our questions, Robb! Hopefully, that piqued a lot of our readers’ interest in React Mobile! Do you have any discount codes that our readers can use when purchasing the Sidekick?

Please use our Take Back The Night Discount Code to receive 10% off any purchase through our website. We will be donating 5% of all sales through our website to Take Back The Night to help end sexual violence and assault at universities nationwide. Tbtnreact

The discount code is: tbtnreact

And that concludes our Q&A with Robb Monkman, Founder and CEO of React Mobile.

React Mobile produced a security solution that we so desperately need in these times, and they produced it well. We would love to see what other innovations the company can come up with in the field of personal security.

To our readers – feel free to throw in your questions and suggestions to Robb in the comment section below!

Note: This interview is neither sponsored nor paid for by React Mobile. HSL is an independent company, and these interviews were conducted to give our readers pertinent consumer information about these brands which could help them in their future purchasing choices.

Becoming a dad ignited my interest in home security. I started with security systems and quickly fell in love with the fast-evolving internet of things (IoT). I love to review home security and smart home products, and learn about new technologies in the IoT space.

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