Jillian Kowalchuk, Founder of Safe & The City
Street-smart safety in your pocket
I wish I’d had more role models when I was younger… There was a lack of exposure to women in STEM creating incredible things. Now I’m embraced and included in many networks who do exactly that, but I’m very aware that I’m still early on in my journey. I need to continuously create opportunities for learning.
I’ve always been passionate about helping people. Being a world traveller taught me how much need there is. After completing my degree in Psychology and working in seven different countries, I moved to the UK to finish my graduate studies in Public Health & Epidemiology; then I worked internationally as a researcher to stop the HIV epidemic. It was rewarding, but I felt limited in my ability to help because it wasn’t my own lived experience.
I found my purpose whilst getting lost. Using Google Maps for navigation took me the quickest but not always the safest way. Having faced a near-sexual assault following one route through an alley, I saw a gap for technologies that were designed representatively for the people who use them.
The overwhelmingly positive response to my idea inspired me to leave my job in academia and build Safe & The City – a free safety navigation app that uses official crime and crowdsourced experiences to help you remain safe on your journey. You can quickly reach help at nearby Safe Sites; access emergency services; and discreetly share your experiences to shape safer journeys and spaces together.
With the support of over 50 people, we’ve bootstrapped our way to success in London and now in Berlin – providing our insights on street harassment and underreported crimes to other enablers of change: the Metropolitan Police, Mayor of London and UN Women UK.
As one of the top 20 Women in Data UK ambassadors, I’m passionate about encouraging more diverse founders to build socially impactful and commercially scalable businesses. I’m on the board of the Commonwealth Business Women’s Network and together we’re helping to connect one billion women in business through technology!
Being a business coach, professional speaker and writer also helps me to remain disciplined, live by my values and be the role model I wish I’d had.
Photo Credit: Sane Seven Photography