Q&A: Stopping the home fire from burning

Sam White, General Manager of dFENCE

This week we talk to Sam White, founder of dFENCE ePOD, a unit small enough to be wall mounted or stored in a cupboard and designed to give you all the tools at your fingerprints you need to be a first responder.

What inspired you to come up with the idea for dFENCE ePOD?

The dFENCE ePOD was conceived of by a mate and I after a neighbour’s house caught fire during a family barbecue. Although the neighbour owned a fire extinguisher, they couldn’t find it in time to extinguish the fire. The fire brigade was called and put it out, but not before significant damage to their property had occurred. When this happened, we thought “how could this family have been able to better manage the situation?” Not only did they need the right equipment, they need to be able to locate it quickly and know how to use it.

Why did you decide to go beyond just a fire extinguisher when conceptualising this kit?

Our research identified that just one in five Australians owns a fire extinguisher, and 75 per cent of them wouldn’t know where it is or how to use it, impacting their ability to bring small problems under control before they become life-threatening. Added to this, less than five per cent are educated enough to handle an emergency. So, we set out to develop more than just a product focused on a fire extinguisher and fire blanket kit, but an all-in-one home emergency response pod with the aim of saving lives – ensuring all homes have the right safety equipment and everyone knows where to find it and how to use it.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when you started this venture and how were you able to overcome it?

The biggest challenge was the initial production run with our manufacturing partner as part of the commercialisation process. We set out to achieve a contemporary and stylish emergency POD that was sophisticated in design with no compromise on quality or structural integrity and therefore lost time on our initial go-live date. The business overcame any obstacles throughout this process via sound decisions based on a mixture of analysis, experience and judgement.

How are you going about promoting the importance of your product to as many households around the country as possible?

We currently have an exciting opportunity in building awareness, education and word of mouth in how the new all-in-one emergency POD empowers Australians to become first responders in their own home. This ensures they’re prepared for any emergency should it arise. Given our channels are direct to consumer and B2B, our core campaign has involved to date media relations, influencer/stakeholder engagement, digital marketing and relevant trade shows.

Where do you see the business developing in the next couple of years, and how do you plan to achieve that growth?

Our mission is to create home safety products that are practical, relevant, providing everyday Australians with the tools that give them the confidence of safety. Having been on the market for only eight months now, we have a lot of work to do to help Australians become better equipped in emergency situations. However, we will not rule out the development of other innovative products in the future in remaining ahead of the curve with offers that complement the dFENCE brand in Saving Lives.

Finally, what is the number one piece of advice you’d pass on to other aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?

Agile thinking and resilience. Having previously worked with large multinationals, the move across to launching a start-up with the other co-founder required agile thinking with our approach. Being laser focused, operating with speed and having resilience and flexibility, all in delivering value. Also, being able to handle multiple conflicting points of view without being thrown off focus and continuously improving in reaching effective outcomes is also required.