FOUNDER AND CEO, PROTECT
Realtor Merideth Schutter’s entrepreneurial venture also resulted from a
personal experience concerning safety. In 2013, Schutter, a Vancouver agent with Re/max Canada, was showing an open house when two men entered, locked the door and tried to attack her. Bystanders intervened, but the incident stuck with Schutter.
“I thought to myself, ‘Well, I’m either going to leave this job and do something different, or I need to have a solution,’” she says at Re/max’s Kerrisdale offices. “Obviously I have tons of friends in this business, and they’ve had numerous situations where we’ve all thought to ourselves, ‘Something needs to change.’”
So Schutter hired a group of male software developers in their early 20s to build an app that lets users connect with their closest contacts and alert them in unfamiliar or emergency scenarios. Protect combines mobile technology and personal networks to act as a virtual security guard, and its uses go well beyond the real estate industry. “I have a 13-year-old daughter, and she uses it almost every day,” Schutter says. “The youth that are striving for independence, they want to take the bus, they want to go with their friends, but as parents we still live with this nervous feeling that they’re still little girls out rolling around.”
The app has only been on the market for about four months, but Schutter is already starting to step away from the real estate business to look after Protect (and the company’s five other employees). Her connection with Re/max will probably remain strong, though: the agency has adopted the app for all of its realtors in Western Canada, with plans to take it across the country and to head office in Denver.
“I had a chat today with the VP of Re/max Western Canada,” Schutter notes. “He said, ‘You know, I don’t want it exclusive; at the end of the day I want all the [other real estate] brands to adopt this.’”