Tommy Zheng, 15, of Dallas, TX, along with their team member, Brendan Kelly, 14, of Dallas, TX, are one of this year's competitors in the i.Invest National Youth Business Competition. The team members are the cofounders of Spazen, a product that attaches to the back of a car to reduce rear-end collisions caused by tailgating through the use of GPS technology and LED lights.
We spoke with Tommy Zheng to learn more about the business venture:
Tell us about your startup:
Spazen is an inexpensive and effective product that will highly reduce rear-end collisions caused by tailgating. The product will be attachable to the back of a car just like a normal license plate frame. It has red LED warning lights which will be turned on if the distance between the car behind you and yours is too close. Our technology will take the speed of that car and your car into consideration. That is why we call it a, “Smart Frame.” Our device uses GPS technology to determine the speed of the car, and radar technology, which determines the distance between your car and car behind you. The CPU will decide when to switch to the red light setting, which warns the driver behind, sending a warning that you two are so close that an accident is highly likely if you were to stop your car suddenly. The car behind you should pay attention to these signals and act accordingly, reducing tailgating accidents.
Who or what inspired you to start Spazen?
One day during a car ride home, there was a lot of traffic due to a car accident. At first, I [Tommy Zheng] was a little frustrated because the accident would cause me to arrive home later than originally planned. Once we reached the location where the two cars collided, I realized it happened because one car was tailgating the other. Because I had seen so many tailgating accidents in the past, I started to think about why it occurred so often. After I got home, I asked my dad, “Why does tailgating accidents happen so often even with Forward collision warning systems?” My dad informed me that it is because Forward Collision warning system only prevents you from tailgating others, but it does not prevent others from tailgating you. Also, it is not always activated!” So, I started to research the topic. Believe it or not, most people don’t know exactly what the required safety distance is for difference speeds, and there isn’t any similar product in this market right now. After finding these statistics, I was determined to make a product to fill this market.
How will Spazen impact the world?
Our company has a huge positive social impact on the community and the world. There are currently 950,000 tailgating accidents per year and 23% of all traffic accidents are tailgating accidents. Our goal is to make the community safer by reducing the number of tailgating accidents each year with a very reasonable cost. Spazen will make the roads safer for all drivers in the community and allow the community to prosper. Our product will help prevent a large portion of rear-end collisions caused by tailgating and will also help save millions of dollars in potential damage while keeping drivers safe. Although money is important, the main way Spazen will enrich the community is by saving lives.
What are the next steps?
Spazen is seeking funding to be reinvested in our company to expand our reach and market influence further. We plan to heavily invest in marketing, advertising, and customer education using our initial fund. We believe that customer education is crucially important as it will help our customers better understand the advantages of our product and the differences between our product and forward collisions prevention system. Our advertising will be targeted specifically for the general public, car dealerships, and insurance companies. In addition, we will use the other half of the money received to expand and develop the company further. We will extend our product line with more functions, and we will apply for patents covering our general design and technology behind Spazen which help us to keep our competitive advantage. We will hire more experienced sales staff to strengthen our sales network to approach more target customers. Market share is our major target for the first 5 years, and we will be the leading player in this industry after that.
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