I met with Molly in the living room of her apartment. The news is playing on the TV and a window is open wide to keep the apartment from feeling stuffy. There’s a lit candle on the coffee table and Molly sits on the couch in front of it. She’s drinking coffee from an embellished mug with papers splayed over her lap and her hair is tied up in a loose messy bun. I go to take a seat on the other side of the couch and notice there’s a plump, gray striped cat curled up pawing at a pen next to her. His name’s Milo. She adopted him her sophomore year in college–much to her parents’ dismay–and she treats him like her own human son. But, aside from her love for Milo, Molly is a graduating senior at FSU, she’s 22, she loves music, her favorite color is purple, her drink of choice is tequila but unlike most college students, Molly is the CEO of her own company.
Courtesy: Molly Cloonan
“When I think of a CEO I think of a 40-something silver fox living in a penthouse apartment somewhere running an ambiguous finance company,” I joke and pet Milo, “I mean, you’re only 22, how did you find yourself in this position?”
“It’s kind of a funny story,” she laughs, “My junior year, my advisor threw me into a random elective called Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship. I had no idea what it was, and just thought it was going to be another challenging business class but it ended up being a class set up just like the show Shark Tank. I had to choose a social problem and create a product to solve that problem. I decided to focus on sexual assault because it has become an overwhelming problem across the world and no one seems to have any ideas on how to better the problem. So, that’s where I started brainstorming and came up with Social Safe.”
“What exactly does that entail,” I continue, “How does your app help fix the sexual assault issue?”
Molly pushes the papers aside and pulls Milo into her lap instead. After taking a long sip of coffee she answers, “Social Safe is specifically meant to help combat sexual assault on college campuses. The app utilizes a person’s already existing social networks to help them get out of a potentially dangerous situation. There are a few safety apps out there already but what makes Social Safe really cool and really different than the others is that it provides its users with situational appropriate responses without automatically calling the police. All of the other safety apps automatically call 911, which in most cases is not necessary. Also, most girls are too afraid to call the police or don’t realize that they even need police involvement. Social Safe gives young women another option that is a lot less excitable.”
After listening to Molly’s pitch, I am surprised to learn that this business path wasn’t always what she had imagined for herself.
“I would never have thought that this is what kind of field I would end up in.” As Molly had grown up immersed in a life of music and theatrics. She attended a musical theater high school, performed with theater companies and for three years was a member of the a cappella group, All Night Yahtzee. She continues to pursue her musical inclination at a job for Tallahassee’s concert destination, The Pavillion and at an internship with a local recording studio. She describes her creation of Social Safe as, “an opportunity that kind of just fell into my lap and changed my life.”
While becoming the CEO of Social Safe wasn’t what Molly had originally planned for herself, I can hear how passionate she is, especially when she tells me what she hopes to accomplish with it.
“First and foremost, I hope to help college-aged women by giving them a product that can potentially save their lives or at the very least give them a sense of comfort when they’re out at night. Secondly, I hope to grow my business and partner with different universities across the country to share Social Safe with them. I want to raise awareness about sexual assault and help prevent it on a broad scale starting with colleges and then, who knows!”
She’s young, she’s sociable, she’s talented, she’s ambitious and after speaking with Molly I’m sure that Social Safe is just the start to a very promising future.