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Wayne Citron of SelfSafe: “Starting a business is harder thank you think”

All the things you take for granted like walking, writing an email, going for a run, becomes more evident when you can no longer do them. Ironically, SelfSafe became more important to me than ever with a long list of meds and Doctors. As a part of our series called “Meet The Inventors”, I had the […]

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All the things you take for granted like walking, writing an email, going for a run, becomes more evident when you can no longer do them. Ironically, SelfSafe became more important to me than ever with a long list of meds and Doctors.


As a part of our series called “Meet The Inventors”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Wayne Citron.

Wayne Citron is an entrepreneur and founding partner of SelfSafe. He has worked from prototype conception through every part of the process and is now Vice President of Sales. He began his career in the investment industry, spending decades as an independent trader affiliated with the Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange. During that time, he ventured into various projects as a teacher and mentor within the financial field, traveling the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia. Through his extensive travels, Wayne realized how vulnerable he could be, in the event of an emergency, when out of touch with his vital information. That was a lightbulb moment when the idea for SelfSafe was born.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

Luckily my sister and I had a very happy upbringing in Rogers Park, Chicago. It was a “Normal Rockwell” childhood with lots of laughter, family trips to Michigan, and adventures exploring our wonderful city of Chicago.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Everyday’s a holiday, every meal’s a feast” This life quote has never become more apparent than five weeks ago when I woke up in pain needing spinal surgery. Four days later I had a minor stroke.

All the things you take for granted like walking, writing an email, going for a run, becomes more evident when you can no longer do them. Ironically, SelfSafe became more important to me than ever with a long list of meds and Doctors.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I can’t think of one book, podcast or film, but I do like inspirational quotes. Einstein’s famous quote: “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” Or Michael Jordan’s quote, “I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” These quotes always lift me up.

Every successful person has experienced failure before. I can certainly relate with launching SelfSafe and all the trials and tribulations that went along with starting a new business.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. What was the catalyst that inspired you to invent your product? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?

I experienced the light bulb moment while in Jakarta, Indonesia on business teaching futures trading to the residents there. There I was, far away from home with a 12-hour difference. The phone service was shaky, as was the internet service. What if I had a problem during that trip? What if I hadn’t been feeling well and needed immediate access to my medical records or lost my passport or was the victim of theft. I realized how vulnerable I am under certain circumstances. With Selfsafe, everything is at your fingertips-Will, Medical Information, Passwords, Financial Information, Passport, Photographs, even Embassy phone numbers. They are secure and accessible on your wrist and not in the Cloud. A peace of mind product and perhaps the best value around at $29.95.

There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Many people have good ideas all the time. But people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?

Einstein’s quote echoes in my mind: “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” During our course of creating SelfSafe, there were tons of obstacles along the way. Finding the right bracelet design, writing the software, getting the right security for our bracelet.

Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether or not their idea has already been created?

With SelfSafe, we had to rethink our original idea of a medical bracelet and create a USB, emergency ID bracelet that was all encompassing. Search the internet for your competitors and do a patent search.

Did you have a role model or a person who inspired you to persevere despite the hardships involved in taking the risk of selling a new product?

Yes, my first boss down at the Board of Trade in Chicago, Ray. One of the first things Ray said when he hired me was, “remember Wayne, money has no pride, it doesn’t care who owns it”. It always stuck with me. He taught me not to be afraid to take a risk and succeed because as weird as it seems, many people are afraid of success. Ray was awesome.

For the benefit of our readers, can you share the story, and outline the steps that you went through, from when you thought of the idea, until it finally landed on the store shelves? In particular we’d love to hear about how to file a patent, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer to distribute it.

It took three years from start to finish to launch SelfSafe as it is now, which includes the redesign, finding a manufacturer, writing the software, encrypting the technology, etc. SelfSafe is patent-pending.

At this point, we not interested in finding a retailer. Our hope is to sell B2C via our website and look to establish relationships with organizations that make sense (B2B) including Travel agencies, home security companies, independent retirement homes, healthcare facilities and insurance companies. We are a natural addition to their services.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When we first started with only medical and we were looking for the right security we found a fingerprint scanner with a built in virus scan. Sounds great right? Only the virus scan took over 3 ½ minutes to complete. That is an eternity to wait and we went back to the drawing board.

The early stages must have been challenging. Are you able to identify a “tipping point” after making your invention, when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there take away or lessons that others can learn from that?

We are at the tipping point right now, and hoping to establish relationships and show the benefits of SelfSafe to consumers, as well as businesses (insurance, security, hospitals). As I mentioned earlier, after my recent medical challenges, Selfsafe gives me the security knowing all my vital medical information is right on my wrist. It’s one of those products you hope to never need but it’s there when needed. Very much like insurance.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Invented My Product” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1.Starting a business is harder thank you think

2.It takes longer than you think

3.Harder to get market recognition

4.You need to find the right team

5. One has to believe in what they have, patience and perseverance.

Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

I would recommend they see what the competition is and what separates YOU? Research how much it will take to bring the product to market. Can you raise funds if needed? How much ownership do you have to give up?

There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

This depends on their pocketbook. Consultants want a big portion of profits and equity. I always say, do it on your own if you can financially.

What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

If you have capital, try it on your own. If your product is really attractive, they will come to you!

Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

My wife and I are active in The Night Ministry, a Chicago based agency that works to provide housing, health care, and human connection to those struggling with poverty or homelessness. Since the onset of the pandemic, we have volunteered regularly on Saturdays as ministry providers of food in city neighborhoods, including Austin.

You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Take control of your own health. In this day and age where we are dealing with a serious health crisis, it’s more important than ever to be in control of your health and safety. We hope with SelfSafe, it will give itinerant adults peace of mind. SelfSafe’s drive holds vital medical, financial, identity, and travel information, with all of it secure because it’s encrypted and password protected.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

One person who I think would be interesting to meet is Muhammad Ali. How did he muster up the courage and do what he did and wind up one of the most revered people in the United States? He’s a true inspiration, who showed incredible physical and mental strength.

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