Startup Stories: Sometimes It Happens With a Spark

If Home is where the Heart is, Our C.A.S.P.E.R. System is where Our Passion is . . . . .

Tell us about your entrepreneurial product or service.
911ThinkSigns ~ C.A.S.P.E.R. System

So what is the 911ThinkSigns C.A.S.P.E.R. System? C.A.S.P.E.R. is an acronym for Community Awareness and Stimulus Plan for Emergency Readiness. C.A.S.P.E.R.’s System is presented through an LED Display Sign, however, C.A.S.P.E.R. is not just an LED Display… So what is it?

By now, most of us have heard or seen the benefits of LED Display/Sign Technology. It's fast, it's reliable, it delivers a clear, concise message, and it's sure to grab your attention on those long trips or short rides into town. We took that message a step farther and turned the LED Display into a life-saving tool and made the technology more than affordable for Non-Profit Organizations. Patent Pending, C.A.S.P.E.R. is revolutionizing the way the world uses LED Display Sign technology.

First and foremost, C.A.S.P.E.R. is an LED Display with our exclusive software that gives your Local 911 Dispatcher or Emergency Management Coordinators remote access to send any alerts and warnings to one or many C.A.S.P.E.R. Displays instantly to alert you and your community as fast as possible because every second counts in an emergency. Alerts and warnings include anything concerning the safety of the public like weather, AMBER alerts, BOLO alerts, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and war. Amber Alerts are more effective than ever with full-color pictures and details on every geographically relevant C.A.S.P.E.R. System in the designated area to help increase chances of the safe and speedy recovery of someone’s loved one.

Taking the benefits of C.A.S.P.E.R. and tying them in with the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System or IPAWS developed by FEMA makes alerts and warnings fast and easily accessible no matter where you are. IPAWS extends alert and warning capabilities to Radio, TV, Satellite, Cell, Internet, Wi-Fi, and 4G. Using C.A.S.P.E.R. and IPAWS, public safety providers can rest assured they have the most advanced instant public emergency alert system at their fingertips. More importantly, each community can trust that they will get the message as soon as Alerting Authorities do. (Be sure to check out FEMA’s IPAWS Video on our website here: http://911thinksigns.com/ipaws/#)

As you know, Non-profit Organizations put a lot of time and effort into their current fundraisers. Being that C.A.S.P.E.R. is an LED Display, and since LED Displays have proven themselves to be very effective at grabbing attention and sharing information, it also makes a perfect fundraising platform. Not only does it draw in bigger crowds to current and traditional fundraisers like Bingo, Cornhole, Music Events, or Pig Roasts, C.A.S.P.E.R. can pay for itself over and over again through its unique fundraising capability outlined below, but we recommend using the extra cash to fill other important budget needs to help keep these important Non-Profit Organizations open.

C.A.S.P.E.R. can achieve this through what we call Sponsortizing. Non-profit Organizations can bring on sponsors – or Sponsortizers – like local businesses that will donate on a monthly/annual basis in return for public recognition on the LED Display. You can compare this to sponsors that donate and receive recognition on a hat, t-shirt, bag, banner, website, etc… except now on a much cooler, changeable, attention drawing sign. When used with our available leasing options and little down, Organizations find it easy to see the system pay for itself. The extra cash generated by C.A.S.P.E.R. is ideal to fill other budget needs like overhead, fuel, training, equipment, etc…

Sponsortizing puts a business’s donation dollars to better use because it all goes to a good cause of their choice with the same benefits of traditional advertising like TV, Radio, Internet, Billboards, Newspapers or Magazines. ‘Buy Local’ campaigns take on a whole new meaning, not to mention that sense of goodwill that communities will now have towards Businesses who Sponsortize to support their local Non-profit Organization. In addition, because of the Alert & Warning and Recruitment & Retainment nature of the system, C.A.S.P.E.R. is also compliant with many grants.

Again, C.A.S.P.E.R.’s roots came partly from our experience volunteering at our local Volunteer Fire Department. However, we quickly recognized that C.A.S.P.E.R. is ideal for most other Non-Profit Organizations like Rescue Squads and Police Departments, Schools, Colleges, Universities, Parks, Municipalities, and many more. Even for-profit businesses can take advantage of the many benefits an on-premise LED Sign has to offer with the bonus of providing their community with vital emergency alerts and warnings should the need arise.

As you can see, we are very passionate about our C.A.S.P.E.R. System, but the main reason I tell you this unfolding of our life’s timeline is to help the weary stay steadfast to their dream of success. Even if you are unsure of what it might be, if you have the drive and determination to succeed, you will find success! Someday you will be the person looking backwards and see ‘Dots’ from your past and connect them to your present success.

What inspired you to launch your business idea?
I was born and raised the the Sign Industry. My parents had a business, and although I worked with them, they gave their business to my brothers. That did not stop me, I opened my own business, which my husband decided to work with me, and it has now turned into a family business – for both my Sons AND my Daughters! Though I have had many blessing and struggles through life, it was with an unexpected tragedy that the System we call C.A.S.P.ER. was born.

SOMETIMES IT HAPPENS WITH A SPARK

You want to know what ‘Spark’ I am talking about? No, not a successful business . . . . and not even an idea . . . . but your life can change with just a spark, and from there it is up to you to make the best of it. Sadly for us, the spark I am talking about is not even a ‘Spark of Genius’ but it is the ‘spark’ from a faulty wiring system in our new home causing it to burn down. That is when the decisions you make from that point on can bring you down, or propel you forward. The choice is always yours.

I will bring you into our life on the day we just moved into our new home, August 22, 1998. We moved to a new State, with five young children, and we decided to start a new sign business in an extremely rural area. We were looking for a new beginning with new adventures. We were excited! The wind was beneath our wings, which is ironic since on one extremely windy day on February 5, 1999 a spark from faulty wiring shot out from an outlet and the wind helped set the fire out of control resulting in a pile of ashes. I often likened the remains of our home to three shovel full’s of ash. Thank God all our four older children were at their elementary school, and our youngest was with us at work, even our dog was safe. The elementary school was cattycorner across the street from our home. Our oldest son, Chaz, was in a classroom that could clearly see the fire, so the uncertainty of his little sister and parents’ safety was most traumatic for him. At that moment as we watched our home burn along with everything we owned, we were questioning every decision we made. What were we thinking . . . . moving so far from family – with five young children? Then the ‘Dots’ started to develop – and we didn’t even notice . . . . .

‘DOTS’
A quote from Steve Jobs states “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” On that day, if someone would have told us that something good was going to come out of this, I would have screamed out loud in total frustration and fear. But now, taking what Steve Jobs said and looking back today, many key things happened that day that took years to present themselves to us.

The first ‘Dot’ appeared when a neighbor came running into our business, which was next door to our home, and yelled “Call 911 your home is on fire!” As you can imagine I felt paralyzed as so many emotions flooded my mind. It seemed like an eternity, but I could finally move to make the call. The 911 Dispatcher took my call and sent out the message for the Fire Department. What no one new at the time was that the 911 System that was just implemented into the County did not work. That small simple defect cost precious time for a response. By the time everyone realized the problem, the previous System they used, which was a phone chain, was re-implemented and help came to our rescue.

‘Dot’ number two was the amazing sense of relief and gratitude we felt when the help showed up. Two different local fire departments and our local rescue squad showed up ready to do what was needed without any hesitations. All Chuck and I could do was watch. It was a very humbling experience.

‘Dot’ number three happened even before our home’s fire was under control. Please remember that we were new to the area. We did not really expand out into our new community as we were still settling in to our new home, getting acclimated to the area, and preparing and converting our businesses building into a suitable working place. Yes, we met a few people, but not that many. With that in mind, as we were standing there devastated at the turn of events with flames I could still feel from the back door of our business, not knowing what to do, where to sleep, everything gone literally up in smoke . . . . then it happened, slowly at first . . . . . pillows showed up, handmade quilts from the local quilting club showed up, toys for our children, clothes, food, and the list can go on and on as to the now treasured memories showed up unexpected by us, and yet generously by the bearers. It was so wonderful and overwhelming. Everyone was so compassionate and giving kind words of encouragement. We knew then that we made the right decision by moving to that area . . . to our new hometown.

‘Dot’ number four was the problem we recognized at the fundraisers we helped with at our local volunteer fire department. After the house was gone, Chuck joined the fire department to give back to the community as he had some previous experience to offer. Our two sons, Chaz and Vince, joined as soon as they turned 16. They put countless hours into training, calls, and especially fundraising. As times changed and more local non-profits pushed similar fundraising events, our traditional fundraisers that our fire department and rescue squad held were competing for the same dollar that has now been split to meet the growing donation demand. Sometimes the fire department would come out well ahead, other times it barely broke even. Many people don’t realize how much work is required just to maintain standards to keep emergency equipment and trucks in operating condition. Fortunately, our local fire department has a family of volunteers that are great at what they do. However, as you might occasionally read now more and more commonly… some fire departments and rescue squads must close their doors leaving their communities vulnerable to what is to come their way and at the mercy of a fire department and rescue squad the next town over. And as we learned, response time is of utmost importance to save lives and in our case – property.

‘Dot’ number five was, well . . . . there all along, but it was a large part of this equation. We were in the Sign Business.
Then it all clicked together one night. Our once young children were now older and worked with us. As we sat around talking one long night eating pizza at our business, we came up with the idea of 911ThinkSigns! It all flooded to us as if it was tired of waiting on us to figure it out and just started presenting itself.

• ‘Dot’ One’s present result: We saw the definite need to have a working, instantaneous Alert and warning System that will help lessen loss of life and property no matter what disaster a town, city, state, or family may be facing.

• ‘Dot’ Two’s present result: First result: Chuck saw the need for extra help within our local fire department and rescue squad and decided to join. Due to that decision, our Sons, Chaz and Vince joined as well. From there, it was easy to notice that Recruitment and Retainment was a large issue many departments face. Second result: Because some Fire Departments, Rescue Squads and other Non-Profit Organizations are closing down or struggling, we feel compelled to make sure these organizations have the resources to operate effectively so everyone in their community experiences the feeling of relief like we did when help shows up.

• ‘Dot’ Three’s present result: Our experience made us very passionate in regards to what a Community is all about: Love, Kindness, Selflessness, and Being there for a fellow Community Member no matter how new they are. They are now Family. And like Families, Communities should communicate too.

• ‘Dot’ Four’s present result: After becoming a Volunteer Firefighter and Volunteering at the Rescue Squad we as a family started noticing that countless hours were spent on fundraising, and not on needed training. This resulted in us coming up with our fundraising aspect of C.A.S.P.E.R.

• ‘Dot’ Five’s present result: Since we were in the Sign Business, we were knowledgeable with the Sign Industry and as a result, the capabilities of LED Display Signs.

Don’t get me wrong. The road was long and hard. The wind that was once under our wings stopped blowing. It felt as if our life was like a gear with some of the ‘teeth’ missing, clunking along. Even though we painted a smile on our faces, the struggle forward was scary. But we persevered, we moved forward, we did what we had to do, and we kept at it. This is the decision that we made; this is the decision that we committed too. We feel too passionate about C.A.S.P.E.R. and how it will help Communities to not meet obstacles head on and make our vision a reality.

C.A.S.P.E.R. connects the ‘Dots’. Every ‘Dot’ eventually came to life. Every life experience now made more sense. The passions that ignited in us that day with that tiny ‘spark’ ~ turned into a flame.

What problem does your business or organization solve?
With C.A.S.P.E.R., Non-Profit Organizations can:

* Provide instantaneous, geographically relevant – vital and timely alerts, warnings, and public announcements to their community during emergencies, including through disseminators of FEMA’s IPAWS.

* Receive a steady stream of extra income because C.A.S.P.E.R. is a fundraising platform; plus the added bonus of drawing in bigger crowds to traditional fundraisers.

* Help their local businesses’ and community’s ‘Buy Local’ campaigns through Sponsortizing.

It's a Win-Win-Win for Non-Profit Organizations, Sponsortizers,
and especially their Community.

It is no secret that Budget Cuts are happening, Grants are becoming less, and donations from individuals are harder to get due to the tough economy. One of the key features of C.A.S.P.E.R. is how it helps both create a residual stream of donations to Non-Profit Organizations, but it also helps Business become stronger since they now will become recognized within their Communities.

Providing Alerts and Warnings through FEMA's IPAWS and our C.A.S.P.E.R. Alert Button are also extremely needed tools for any Community to help their Members stay safe!

What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how are you working to overcome it?
We have been self-funding our launch. We are taking our C.A.S.P.E.R. System National. We have the software developed, and are marketing our System, but it is going slow due to a lack of Capital.

We are looking for investors, so if you, or if you know of anyone who may be interested if be an investor, please contact me. We have a very nice Investor Package ready to present. :)

Give us one word that people might use to describe you.
tenacious

How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
I am looking forward to meeting like minded entrepreneurial woman. I am also hoping to become connected to Organizations who our C.A.S.P.E.R. System can help.

Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry or startup story.
Quality does count in the LED world. Whether it is with LED Lighting or LED Displays – if the warranty is not there, neither is the quality.

Company: 911ThinkSigns

Website: http://www.911ThinkSigns.com

Follow my organization on social media here:
@911ThinkSigns
https://www.facebook.com/911ThinkSigns

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