Anthony Gold is the co-founder and COO of ROAR for Good. ROAR for Good started after Yasmine Mustafa, the company’s co-founder and CEO, heard numerous stories of violence against women and resolved to make the world a safer place. Driven by this mission, ROAR for Good developed Athena, a wearable safety product that users can pair with their phones to share their locations with trusted contacts, and which sounds an alarm in the event of an emergency. For every Athena sold, the company donates a portion of the sale to educational programs aimed at reducing violence and building empathy.
EDWIN WARFIELD: Prior to starting your entrepreneurial career, you worked for over two decades as an engineer—and eventually, VP—at Unisys. Tell us about that experience and what prompted you to leave and start ROAR for Good.
ANTHONY GOLD: My career at Unisys was very, very fortunate. I felt very blessed to have some great mentors, great colleagues, great managers, and I had an opportunity to do a lot of really cool things there because of the people I was surrounded with. I was very fortunate that I was promoted fairly quickly and given the opportunity to do some amazing things. At one point, I was running all of hardware engineering for Unisys; another point, I was given the opportunity to actually build a new startup inside of Unisys around open source software, which we hit the market at the perfect time with that little startup, and we built a little open source software and services thing that really helped take open source into the enterprise, and we ended up building that little business from just a little tiny thing to doing over several hundred million dollars in revenue in just a few years. It was pretty amazing what we were able to develop with that. But again, it was just the opportunity to be in the right position at the right time surrounded by amazing, gifted engineers, and managers, and marketing people, and manufacturing people, and just everything throughout the entire end to end supply chain of Unisys enabled us to be able to do that. It was really cool to be part of that, because you’re building something—but you’re just not building something; you have the opportunity to build something that can impact people in various ways. And part of the reason that I loved my career at Unisys was not just because I found the work intellectually stimulating, which it was; I started as a hardware engineer designing mainframes, fell in love with writing software, and then I really fell in love with building businesses and learning how technology could be leveraged to solve some compelling societal challenges. And so, it as not only intellectually stimulating but the opportunity to really be able to grow my career and learn how to be a better manager, a better leader, but most importantly a better person, through many, many mistakes that I made. But the great thing about a company like Unisys, especially when you have great mentors, is you can learn from your mistakes, and you have people who will guide you to say, “How could we have done that better and what lessons can you learn from that?” And so I think it was a very supportive environment, which is interesting because you think of big companies and you think, “Supportive environment? What really happens and how fast can things happen?” But where I was at Unisys and the opportunities that I had just were—as I said, I was very fortunate that my career was very blessed there.
I first met my co-founder of ROAR, Yasmine Mustafa—she and I met about 10 years ago. I was recruited out of Unisys to come in around the healthcare company, and when I got to the healthcare company, Yasmine was part of the marketing consulting firm that was there doing some work, and so she and I met that way. I was really drawn to two things about her.
One was she had all these ideas to change the world. She was the true entrepreneur—idea after idea after idea. She had a book of ideas that she kept.
But two: she was a real good marketer. She had a lot of really good ideas on ways that she could test the ideas that she had and ways that she could bring them to market.
We became fast friends in the very early days of this healthcare company and have been friends ever since. When she started her first company, 123LinkIt, I was an advisor for that company helping her with that.
The seed for where ROAR came from all started about three-and-a-half years ago when Yasmine had this crazy idea. It was after that she sold 123LinkIt and she did a crazy thing: she sold all of her possessions, packed a backpack, and spent six months solo-trekking across South America. In fact, when she was planning the trip, she told all of her friends and family, “I’m going to do this: I’m going to sell my stuff, pack a backpack, just spend six months in South America.” And all her friends and family said, “That’s such a great idea! Good for you—you’re so courageous.” And then, a couple of weeks before she actually left on the trip, all the same people said to her, “Are you crazy?! That’s such a stupid idea, and so dangerous! Don’t do it.”
She did it and it was a great trip. She spent six months in six different countries there. She had great food, great experiences, and totally full Spanish immersion—she learned Spanish there—but as great as the trip was, it was also very distressing. It was distressing because pretty much everywhere she stayed, and everywhere she traveled, she kept meeting women who had been victims of assault. And that’s both locals and travelers and they shared their stories with her.
And then when she came back to Philadelphia—just one week after she got back to Philly—her neighbor was out feeding her parking meter when she was grabbed from behind, dragged into an alley, severely beaten, and brutally raped. It was such a horrific incident. Yasmine called me up the next day and said, “We have to do something about this.”
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