Justin Zastrow and Ira Hayes are the co-founders of Smart Armor, an Internet of Things (IoT) company that provides a chip and software pairing that allows inventors and brands to secure, protect and monitor consumer goods. Smart Armor’s Smart Safe secures smaller valuables on the go, while the Smart Cube allows one to lock an entire drawer or cabinet with one savvy, smartphone-powered device.
What part of Arizona do you call home?
What was your very first entrepreneurial venture?
A sports memorabilia business.
What do you do now?
Our goal is to provide added security for personal belongings. Our tagline is “Protect What Matters.” We use items every day that we want to keep safe and secure.
Smart Armor currently has two products: Smart Safe and Smart Cube. The Safe is a Bluetooth-enabled lockbox. Protect your credit cards, keys, cash, and daily pharmaceuticals inside and easily place inside your pocket or purse. The Cube is a Bluetooth smart lock designed specifically for inside the home and office. Attach the cube to any cabinet, cupboard or drawer for instant security.
How did you come up with this idea?
Our friend inadvertently failed to take his heart medication and ended up in the hospital. Since we had a mobile app development company at the time, we thought of creating an enclosed pill box that could be controlled through our phone. We discovered that all of our personal belongings could be secured in a more meaningful way. Smart Armor was born to bring protection into the palm of your hand.
What was the biggest challenge in executing this idea?
The biggest challenge was providing a solution that works for both technical experts as well as the novice user. Simplicity was our focus. Another milestone for us was creating a 3-volt low power solution that was able to unlock-and-relock a multitude of mechanisms yet conserve precious battery life.
What is your favorite part about running a business?
Building a team of experts to come together on one mission.
How did you get started in the tech industry? What did you study in school, if you attended? What sparked an initial interest in tech?
I got started in the tech industry with a “daily deal” company. I was able to use geo-fencing technology through our mobile app to drive specific deals to consumers via their current location. I was a business major in school and was born into a family of successful entrepreneurs. I continued to innovate within many different industries, but I am most excited about the value we can bring through Smart Armor.
How long have you lived or worked in Arizona?
I have been here for twelve years. I have noticed many firms moving to Arizona for both the business and personal perks of living here.
If you could only describe your city with one word, which word would it be?
What’s your favorite thing about living in Arizona?
The active lifestyle and beautiful sunsets!
What’s your least favorite thing about living in Arizona?
In what area( do you think Arizona still has a long way to go?
Arizona tech companies need more attention for the impressive businesses being built in the Valley. We have the people and the talent . . . after further hard work and national exposure, I believe more funding opportunities will come (which I would say is the only piece of the puzzle currently lacking).
The foodie scene is growing bigger and bigger by the day here in Arizona. What is your favorite breakfast spot in your city?
What’s your favorite place to grab lunch?
La Grande Orange is a cool place to enjoy a multitude of different food options. The Henry is also a nice place to meet with others in the industry, enjoy a coffee and jam out on some work.
What’s your favorite dinner spot?
Any Fox Restaurant Concept seems to do the trick.
Best place to meet over drinks?
Culinary Dropout at The Yard in Tempe.
What’s your favorite place to work in your city (coffee shop, coworking space, etc)?
Sip Coffee & Beer House in Old Town Scottsdale.
What is your favorite memory from Arizona?
Hitting up the Phoenix Open and the SuperBowl in the same weekend.
What is something about living in Arizona that only a local would know of? (Or what is a common misconception about living in AZ?)
We are more than just a bunch of old and retired people. There is a very affluent, beautiful and younger crowd, especially in Scottsdale.
Any tips for new Arizona residents?
Get outside, work out daily, and network with everyone!
La Grande Orange – LaGrandeOrangeGrocery.com
Culinary Dropout – CulinaryDropout.com