Walking home alone at night, getting lost and being among strangers—many situations cause us to feel vulnerable and fearful. And though campus safety is a high priority for universities, there is still a need for individual security when one senses danger. Fortunately, a group of young entrepreneurs embraced this need and created an app called Hooot. Hooot is a free, personal safety application that can be triggered instantly and discreetly using a voice-activated code word or by a gesture. It was designed for college students; however, the app has the capacity to assist anyone, anywhere.
Young Entrepreneurs Behind Hoot
The creators behind the app are Max Young, Candice Ouellette and Aaron Russo. Young, the developer and founder, who’s been working on developing the app for the past two years, studies computer science at CU Boulder. He’s created other apps, including Party Favor, but Hooot is currently the only one he’s made that addresses individual safety and empowerment. Candice, from Gainesville, focuses on Hooot’s social media platforms and outreach. Russo, currently a sophomore at FSU, is the head ambassador.
Inspiration Behind Hooot
The name for the app was inspired by, you guessed it, the owl. “I came up with the name Hooot because I liked the idea of the app being named after a bird call. Hooot is like the owls that sit in the trees at night, and though you can’t see them, the calls they make to each other remind you that they are there and watching you.”
“We, like so many, noticed that the number of sexual assaults on university campuses has become incredibly high, and not much was being done about individual security. I hadn’t seen a good solution, so I decided to create my own, which became Hooot. Our goal is to empower college students with a tool to protect their own safety and ultimately help bring an end to sexual assault,” states Young. Young also adds, “Personally in Boulder, even I feel unsafe going out alone, and I know many others who feel the same. We shouldn’t be afraid to go out alone. Hooot was created to address this fear and empower individual safety.”
How the Product Works
First, you’ll need to download, sign up and create an account. Ensure your location is always on so that your whereabouts are locatable should you trigger your code word when your phone is locked. Add at least one emergency contact. From there, you choose a code word. There are currently three choices to choose from. You’ll test the code word to make sure your phone understands it well enough in an emergency. Now, whenever you go out, turn on Hooot, and it will start listening for your code word.
If your code word is triggered, then a text message will be sent to your contacts, alerting them of your location. Don’t worry, though, if you accidentally trigger your code word. Your location will still be sent to your contacts; however, you can indicate that it’s a false alarm. The app will then notify your contacts that it was a false alarm.
In addition to individuals, Hooot is looking to help sororities in their efforts to keep their members safe. Hooot has created a brand ambassador program that will donate money to sororities’ philanthropies who download the most app subscriptions under their promo code. And if you are not in a sorority, no worries, Hooot is implementing a brand ambassador rewards program with individual subscribers as well.
Russo states, “The entire culture behind rape and sexual assault needs to change. There are simply too many stories about unfortunate situations that could have been prevented. At Hooot, we’ve made it our mission to help reduce the risk of sexual assault on college campuses nationwide. We aim to lower the statistics and deliver empowering safety right to your pocket. Just say the word, and Hooot instantly jumps into action as your mobile bodyguard.”