Tech startup might be on verge of skyrocketing

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  • Courtesy photos Carleigh Byrdziak tests a Compass under her hard hat to see how it operates on a female body.

  • 1

    Safeguard Equipment co-founder John Thompson works on a Compass electricity-detection device.

  • 2

    Courtesy photo The Compass safety device attaches to hard hats. Workers are warned of potential electrical danger with colors and sounds on the clips.

  • Courtesy photos Carleigh Byrdziak tests a Compass under her hard hat to see how it operates on a female body.

  • 1

    Safeguard Equipment co-founder John Thompson works on a Compass electricity-detection device.

  • 2

    Courtesy photo The Compass safety device attaches to hard hats. Workers are warned of potential electrical danger with colors and sounds on the clips.

A fledgling technology company is rapidly finding its direction in the market with its Compass utility safety helmet brim clip.

During the first four months in the marketplace, Safeguard Equipment produced more than 2,000 of the devices worn by utility linemen, construction workers, firefighters, disaster relief teams and others to detect both proximity and direction of a potentially harmful source of electricity.

"We're meeting the explosive demand," said Tim Ledford, CEO. "We have our product in 14 utilities and have about 25 or 30 more utilities in the pipeline. We are getting big interest in other industries such as firefighting and tree trimming services as well."

The cost for each Compass is $449 and prices go down with quantity of orders. The name was changed from Beacon during the research phase. The product is made locally.

"We love this community and contribute most of our success to the people who have come alongside us, encouraged and mentored us," Ledford said. "Part of our business model is keep everything in the area."

The company recently closed a $1 million capital investment round with local investors including Avista Utilities, Ledford said.

"This will help us expand our operations, push sales and marketing to the next level, invest in building up our research and development department and hire additional employees," Ledford said. "We have big plans moving forward with Avista. I can't elaborate anymore, but wait until 2019. It's going to be big."

Mark Gustafson, Avista's senior manager of Business Development and Strategy, said when there are opportunities to save lives, Avista wants to be involved.

Workers are warned of potential danger with colors and sounds on the clips.

The company has grown in its first year from three employees to seven.

"We're starting to get some real traction and are expanding our operations at a rapid pace," Ledford said. "We are hitting market after being in research and development for the past year and a half."

The company started by Ledford and fellow millennials and University of Idaho fraternity brothers Brandon Bledsoe and John Thompson originated in the Innovation Den in downtown Coeur d'Alene before outgrowing its space there and moving into the Tedder Business Center at the former factory outlets in Post Falls.

"We have multiple hires in the pipeline," Ledford said.

The firm is slated to be featured by multiple media outlets, including Mike Ditka's "Modern Business" show in the first quarter of 2019, he said.

Safeguard Equipment is partnering with UI on the business venture, Ledford said.

"We are hiring interns from University of Idaho and teaching them how to run a startup and bring a product to market," Ledford said. "It's a way we can give up our time to aspiring entrepreneurs and ignite a flame in them to think outside the box and create something new like others did with us just two years ago."

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