4Q4: Four questions for … Maryann Kilgallon, POMM

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Building a tech business with no tech background has been “brutal” for Maryann Kilgallon.

But she says her affiliation with the University of Central Florida’s Business Incubation Program helped her make connections, leading to a meeting with the tech giant Siemens.

It’s a meeting that led to the production of the POMM safety belt clip, the company’s first product, an alert device that notifies others whenever a user feels endangered, whether that’s on the job or in perilous situations.

“This partnership was confirmation that I was on the right track,” she said. “The timing was perfect for Siemens to take this on.”

Now, as a “startup evangelist” who coined and trademarked the term, she advises other startups for several hours a week. The hard work has appeared to pay off. Forbes named Kilgallon as a NEXT1000 CEO and Orlando Business Journal recently named POMM a startup to watch.

The 4Q4 team caught up with her to ask about her journey and the importance of using technology to improve on-the-job safety and other areas.

What has it been like to build POMM and see other perhaps unforeseen applications like the Siemens partnership?

Building any business is touch. Even so, building a technology company with no “tech background” has been brutal. I knew coming in that I needed to have a student mindset and learn all I could about my industry. We started with direct-to-consumer and then expanded to business-to-business. That’s when we were approached by a large Fortune 50 company (Duke Energy) to offer a one-touch SOS solution for their field technicians. We have been in collaboration with them and are in talks with three other firms and finalizing a government contract.

Tell me about the early days of POMM and why you started the company.

I was inspired to start the company after hearing a local news story of a little boy who died from caregiver neglect. It really upset me and changed the course of my life; I dove deep into statistics and research and was determined to create a practical solution to a critical problem. I also knew that I did not want to be a one-product company. I envisioned that I would build a suite of safety solutions for people at home, on the go or at the workplace.

How important is it that we use technology to improve safety?

Safety should be a priority for all fields of work. We believe that every employee deserves to make it home safe each day to their family. The stats show that on-the-job injuries are on the rise. Unless you’ve seen the data most people have no clue, and why would they?

I can tell you thousands of deaths are occurring, and millions of on-the-job injuries cost companies over $250 Billion annually. Many of these tragedies could be mitigated or even prevented with solutions in place along with training and awareness.

Where did your interest in tech/entrepreneurship come from?

My interest in technology came from the need to solve a problem. Also, I knew that my business would benefit from the use of technology. If I did not use technology, I would be left behind in the competition. I was born to be an entrepreneur. As a child from the age of 8I created or made products to sell to my friends and family.

I used to go to church yard sales and fill a large brown bag to the rim for $2. Then I would set up a table in my front yard and resell the items and make $20-$25. I live and breathe startups and have owned five businesses with one exit. I am on fire to build this company to make a positive impact on lives and create a legacy for my family.