Syracuse University Professor Creates Safety App ‘Yank’
Adam Peruta is a man of many talents. In addition to being an athlete who has completed four Ultraman competitions, he is a serial entrepreneur who has started and sold businesses. He is also a professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where he teaches design and coding. Additionally, Peruta is one of the creators of the safety app Yank. Last year, he took on the tough challenge of boarding the StartupBus for the second time in his life.
“There are positives and negatives with competitions. Cons: three days is not really a lot of time to do anything viable. It can definitely be tough.”
The StartupBus is an intense three day experience. Coders, developers and marketers get on a bus, pitch ideas, work in teams and create apps that compete at the SXSW conference in Austin, which is the final destination of their three days.
In Austin, Adam and his team (comprising of Stuart Adams and Dave Cascino) had in hand a working prototype of Yank, which is a safety app that provides the user a way to alert designated contacts if they’re in distress. The StartupBus experience is highly challenging on many levels. To complete it not only with a functional and relevant product, but with the mindset to invest further time and effort in the product is a testament to the viability of the app and the foresight of the team.
The app is simple: yank the earphones from your phone, and an alert text is sent to a list of friends.
When you’re out jogging or taking a stroll on your own, your music keeps you company. With Yank, you plug in your earphones and pull up the app, letting it run in the background as other apps like iTunes are used.
If you face any trouble while you’re out and need emergency assistance, you simply yank the cord out of the phone. There’s a countdown that starts immediately, and when it lapses 10 seconds later, distress text messages or emails are sent to the people who have been listed. Your geographic location is also sent to them.
“On the StartupBus, this was a project one of the other guys was thinking about. The idea originated for him from running on a treadmill, which has a cable to yank that would automatically stop the machine,” said Peruta. The concept addresses the fact that on college campuses alone, there are over 2,700 reported muggings of students. On a larger scale in the country, this number extends to over 200,000 reported rapes and sexual assaults. With an app like Yank, users have a way of letting people know they are in trouble without the assailants knowing.
Peruta said the next step for the team is to monetize their product. “Right now, we are focused on getting people to download the app. We get maybe about half a dozen downloads a day. It’s free now, but pretty soon we’re going to start charging for it,” he said. They are also looking at making the countdown customized and building a community on the platform so that people are aware of what’s going on.
With Yank, help is not far away. The app is currently available for download for free in the App Store.