By GREGORY ZELLER //
Better late than never, Soteria Technologies still plans to be there when it’s needed most.
Specifically: when a fire or other emergency situation makes air unbreathable, and a “personal escape respirator” is required.
About a year after securing a $200,000 angel investment, Lindenhurst-based Soteria Technologies is finally ready to commence production of its first 1,000 Oxxy/Gen units – just as soon as it completes a 30-day, $85,000 Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, which launched Tuesday.
Originally scheduled to begin production in 2016, the company is counting on the Indiegogo haul to be the fiscal booster shot it needs to complete its first production round, according to President Jeffry Peterson, who noted it “took that long” to get its ducks in a row – including securing collaborations with third-party manufacturers – but Soteria Technologies now ready to roll.
Components will come from an interstate assortment of manufacturers – plus “a few of smaller parts from China,” Peterson said – but final assembly of the Oxxy/Gen units will take place at Soteria Technology’s 3,000-square-foot Lindenhurst facility.
If all goes according to plan, the manufacturer will begin shipping tissue box-sized Oxxy/Gen Escape Kits – including an emergency respirator capable of providing 30 minutes of breathable air, protective goggles, nose clips, reflective safety strips and LED light – by April 1, Peterson told Innovate LI.
“We’re getting our social media campaign started and we’re really hoping to move some units,” he said. “We’ve got a bunch of bloggers we’ve sent stuff to, including survivalist bloggers and firefighter bloggers.”
Those, obviously, could be key market drivers for the 2013 tech startup, which aims to save thousands of lives via the world’s “first affordable oxygen-generating personal escape respirator,” according to the Indiegogo campaign announcement.
The lightweight unit provides time – 30 minutes if stationary, about 10 on the run – to survive a high-rise fire, cruise ship crisis or other emergency by utilizing “proven technology” used in spacecraft and submarines to convert exhaled carbon dioxide into breathable air.
And the units – which isolate the user from the environment, closing the breathing loop – do it at a fraction of the cost of other personal respirators, according to Peterson, who referenced the cost-cutting, life-saving designs of Soteria Technologies Scientific Advisor Mel Blum.
“The lowest price oxygen-supplying escape respirators on the market today are around $500, and go up from there,” Peterson noted. “We designed Oxxy/Gen to be available at a price under $100.
“With a shelf life of five years, that’s safety at less than $20 per year, making it affordable to all.”
It’s even more affordable through the Indiegogo campaign, which offers early-bird discounted prices of $65 for the first 100 contributors and $80 for the next 250, in addition to discounts for multiple purchases.
Soteria Technologies has also committed to donating one Oxxy/Gen unit to “a family in need in a high-rise building” for each $85 raised through the campaign, the company said.
Providing the life-saving technology at an affordable price point is the entire purpose behind Soteria Technolgies, noted Vice President Scott Schuler, who cited several flaws with other “affordable products” on the market, including gas masks and fire hoods.
“They’re prone to clogging, only filter specific toxins at specific amounts and, most importantly, they do not provide oxygen,” Schuler said Tuesday. “This means they may work, but they may not, and the last thing anyone needs to worry about in an emergency is if a safety device is going to work.
“We’ve created a better solution, at a similar price point, that provides oxygenated air and complete protection from smoke and chemical inhalation,” Schuler added.
Whether or not the crowdfunding campaign hits its $85,000 mark – five backers had pitched $310 to the Oxxy/Gen cause by 6 p.m. Tuesday – the keep-what-you-raise Indiegogo effort will provide enough working capital for the company to begin assembling and shipping units, according to Peterson.
But the entrepreneur, for one, is predicting a successful showing.
“I can’t be anything but confident at this point,” Peterson said. “I don’t know any other way.”