We’re honored that Fast Company thinks we’re doing something special.
Being a world changing idea for 2021 is a lot of responsibility. Every year, Fast Company chooses a handful of companies that are trying to make the world a better place. We are passionate about our work, and excited to be a part of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards.
Showcasing some of the world’s most inventive entrepreneurs and companies tackling the most complex and pressing global challenges, the yearly honor was bestowed upon winners spanning the globe, from Brazil to Denmark to Vietnam, and selected from a pool of more than 4,000 entries.
How is harbor changing the world?
The most dangerous place is the home, and yet home safety is a challenging and fragmented journey. The average American spends thousands of dollars each year across many different companies and brands. Despite this effort and cost, only 2% of Americans are prepared for basic emergencies, even though they impact 95% of Americans.
We endeavored to build a company that would make this process easy. Why? Each of us has our own preparedness story. But, our stories aren’t unique, and neither are our difficulties preparing. We want everyone to be a little more prepared for everything: natural disasters, health hazards, road troubles, and all manner of life’s most common emergencies.
Some of us hail from the hurricane-laden South, where we’ve witnessed the city-ravaging power of Earth’s biggest storms. Others in the harbor family up North have learned the need to prepare for winter after making it through powerful Nor’easters that can knock out power for entire cities. Others have witnessed the horrors of tornadoes in the Midwest, and destructive wildfires and earthquakes of the West.
Our CEO and Los Angeles resident, Dan Kessler, recounts one harrowing earthquake experience and just one of the many reasons he created harbor:
“I’ve held my infant daughter during magnitude 8 earthquakes. I’ve evacuated for wildfires, not knowing if my home would still be there. I even escaped Hurricane Katrina without enough gas or water in the car. The process of assessing risk and getting prepared is impossible to understand, and not everyone needs a Masters in Emergency Management. We built harbor to make home safety easy.”
Disasters are personal, and preparing for them should be personal too. When we got together and set out to create the harbor app, we wanted to humanize, democratize, and futurize home safety in a way that is accessible for all. More than anything though, we wanted to make home safety easy. Preparing for the worst should be fun, not scary, and easy, not complex. No one wants to scour through government handbooks and diagrams, or get their preparedness tips from a random doom-and-gloom YouTuber preparing for a Sharknado.
We’re changing the world by making getting ready for life’s emergencies as simple and as regular as brushing your teeth. We envision a world free of grocery store toilet paper fights or neighbors shivering from snowstorm power outages. We envision a world that’s prepared for anything. All you have to do is open the app and work at it a little bit each day. It’s that simple.
How’d we do it?
We built the app using a healthy mix of personal intuition, scientific data, good tech, and expert advice. You become who you surround yourself with, and we’ve surrounded ourselves with some amazing people who know their stuff.
Alice Hill, for instance, is one of many disaster preparedness and community resilience experts we’re working with. She’s a senior fellow for climate change policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and former senior director for resilience policy on President Obama’s National Security Council, and she’s helping us embed climate-conscious strategies into our emergency preparedness plans that anyone can build for themselves using the harbor app. In addition to providing her high-level guidance for the app, she also takes a practical approach to preparedness in her everyday life, an example for us all:
“I always have running shoes, water, a first aid kit and some dried food, hopefully a flashlight that works. And I typically rely on my phone for my emergency contacts, and I'm hoping that that will be with me. I travel with extra batteries. I have flashlights in my home. I have extra supplies of food, water, blankets.”
What’s next for harbor?
During the pandemic we were quite busy. Not only did we launch the harbor app and the harbor shop that allows you to shop within the app itself, soon we’ll be launching unique harbor-branded products that are essential to anyone’s readiness plan so you can stock up supplies with confidence.
Even more exciting, in our newly launched Premium subscription, we’re equipping users with a no-holds-barred digital emergency kit that includes a real-time emergency response system (in partnership with ADT), a CPR certification course, shop discounts, offline emergency guides, and more.
All this to say, we’re excited for the future, and you should be too. We also recognize that community matters, and the only way we’re going to change the world is if we do it together. So, if you’ve got any ideas for how we can continue to make preparing for emergencies even easier in your daily life, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.