We talked to Allan Klepfisz, Lance Ford, and Tomas Varga, co-founders of WatchOut Group, about their fight against germs during the pandemic.
First of all, how are you and your families been doing during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Lance Ford: I feel very lucky that all of us and our families are healthy. Coronavirus has brought unprecedented reality with it, but it is definitely keeping us busy figuring out how to adapt to it. We also are fortunate, and this situation has truly motivated us to create solutions for addressing the pandemic.
Tell us about yourselves, your careers, and what WatchOut is.
Allan Klepfisz: I am a serial entrepreneur and have been partners with Lance for 14 years now. Most of my experience has been in establishing new ventures in a range of markets, including music, hospitality, textile, chemical, and marketing industries. On the other hand, Lance is widely known for launching Maxim, the largest men’s magazine in the world. Before founding WatchOut, he and I created Fenix Music, a blockchain company designed to increase royalties for musicians. We brought in our friend Tomas to help us found WatchOut due to his extensive experience and skill in business development, strategy, and technology implementation. Our flagship product is precisely designed for our new reality. In short, WatchOut is a wearable gadget that disinfects hands on the go. You just add the sanitizing solution, strap the band on like a watch or bracelet, and now have a way to keep your hands clean throughout the day.
What led you to start a company during a pandemic?
Lance Ford: We wanted to do our part in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. When the pandemic spread across the world, we decided it was best to put our other entrepreneurial ventures on hold to create innovative products for our new reality. This led us to create a wearable sanitizing band that helps prevent the spread of infections, even when soap and clean water are not available.
Sanitary issues have been a big problem for many countries. The United Nations states that roughly three billion people live without access to soap and water. The spread of common infections is sadly part of life for 40% of the world’s population. Annually, 300,000 children under the age of five are killed by this harsh reality. It quickly became clear to us that a solution attached directly to the wrist could have an immense impact on the world — even outside of a global pandemic. We then swiftly moved WatchOut from ideation into production to make sure we could deliver to people who needed it most. To date, I’m proud to say that EDEKA, TrueValue, Ace, Pommery, and more global partners are already selling our products.
How does WatchOut Group innovate?
Tomas Varga: The mission of WatchOut Group is to provide simple sanitizing solutions. We made sure to partner with a sanitizing solution we trust, and that utilizes 85% alcohol, which the World Health Organization states is the proof needed to kill the coronavirus. It’s important to us that our products are designed to effectively fight Covid-19.
We also have a number of new products in production that will be launching in rapid succession. To name a few, we’ve developed the Mistifier Sanitizing Wand, Pocket Misitifier, and 99Percenter. The wand features a miniature atomizer built into it that can disinfect anything anywhere. It even safely works on electronics and includes a UVC light, which is proven to kill almost all viruses and bacteria. The Pocket Mistifier is pen-shaped, making it practical and easily portable. The 99Percenter, on the other hand, was designed to address the common deficiencies of currently available masks. It covers your mouth, nose, and eyes and features replaceable, integrated N99 filtration fabrics that kill 99.9% of pathogens while still allowing you to breathe comfortably. We’ll never stop innovating our line of products when it comes to finding creative ways to fight germs.
How has the Coronavirus pandemic affected the way you conduct business, and how are you coping?
Allen Klepfisz: The pandemic has changed our perspective on the way we handle our business and personal lives. The separation of work and life doesn’t seem to be as clear now that most of us find ourselves working from home. It’s easy to get carried away and work much more than before the pandemic, but I don’t mind because we are fortunate to have a product that directly helps people. It’s also important not to let the lockdown and the world feeling stalled impede our business. Instead, it’s best to use this time in lockdown as a way to drive us to evolve with our world. The global economy has never gone through so much change at such a rapid pace. The right determination and mindset can actually make a business thrive during this time, and that’s what we’ve been striving to do.
What do you hope for when you think of the future of WatchOut?
Tomas Vargas: We think it would be amazing to get our product onto the wrists of kids everywhere so that we can help them safely get back to learning in schools. Also, it’s easy to picture larger companies making use of them for all of their employees. For example, imagine a Mercedes-branded watch for their over 200,000 employees. It’s definitely a much more suitable gift to their employees for the crises we are currently in than, say, a tote bag, water bottle, or any other piece of company swag that most people forget about. WatchOut directly improves their safety, which should be an easy decision for most companies.
Your final thoughts?
Lance Ford: I’m proud of how fast we turned WatchOut from an idea into what it is today. Because of this, I encourage other entrepreneurs to be fearless and act on their ideas. Don’t be that guy that’s too afraid to share their great idea with the world. An endless number of organizations, communities, and businesses are already finding out how they can make excellent use of WatchOut. It’s just a matter of them learning our story, so thank you for taking the time to share it.
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