All it takes is one person to make an impact, and you never know how you may impact others. Plus, giving back and helping others leaves you with an amazing feeling.
I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Anthony Oyogoa M.D. and Ruma S. Patel. Anthony Oyogoa, MD is the CEO and Co-Founder of UrSafe, the first and only hands-free, voice-activated personal safety app fully integrated with 911 to empower everyone to stay safe anytime, anywhere. Born and raised in Nigeria and then the United Kingdom, Anthony is a medical professional and business entrepreneur based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Before working on UrSafe, Anthony founded i-Rotation, an app designed to streamline the entire healthcare education workflow from A to Z using innovative technology to manage clinical rotations, transform accreditation review, and validate clinical training.
Ruma S. Patel, OD is the Co-Founder of UrSafe. Ruma is an optometrist who currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. She is passionate about providing quality patient care while also educating her patients. Ruma enjoys spending time with her two young children and husband, cooking, traveling, and planning social events. She attended Benedictine University and graduated with a health science degree before earning her Doctorate of Optometry from the Illinois College of Optometry.
Thank you so much for joining us Anthony and Ruma. Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
Anthony: I was born in Africa and quickly moved to the UK to attend boarding school. I spent my middle and high school years attending boarding schools in the UK, US and Nigeria. After that, I moved to the US for college and have called it my home ever since.
Ruma: I have lived in Chicago my entire life and grew up with my parents, who came to the US in their twenties, and a younger brother and sister.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Anthony: The CEO of Virgin, Richard Branson, wrote an autobiography that really encouraged me to believe that I can achieve anything. As a person that grew up with mild dyslexia, his determination encouraged me to push through the difficult days in medical school and still pushes me now as an entrepreneur.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
Anthony: “My title is rented but my character I own” by Thasunda Brown Duckett (CEO Chase Consumer Bank). Regardless of my status in life — from when I started my first company car wash and detail business to caring for sick patients in a hospital to now as a CEO of a global tech company — I always try to be the same person and treat everyone the same. It’s important to me to remain humble and kind regardless of my title and how I’m introduced to others.
Ruma: “Rise above the storm, and you will find the sunshine.” Everyone experiences hardship, adversity, and struggles, but what sets people apart is the ability to look within, find your inner strength and see the support around you. Finding that power and confidence is the key to overcoming those obstacles.
You are currently leading a social impact organization that has stepped up during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to address?
Anthony: We launched the UrSafe App in December of 2019 because we saw a real need for people of all ages and walks of life to be connected to family, friends and law enforcements on a daily basis and in the event of an emergency. As the virus spread through Asia and Europe, there was also an increase in reported domestic violence cases in these countries during lockdown, and we knew this trend would also continue here in the US. We knew we cannot remain silent during this crisis and offered the UrSafe App free globally in hopes that it could help keep people safe. We want to do our part for the world during this pandemic and want our users to know we are there to help them stay safe at home during these unprecedented times with no strings attached. We never monetize or sell user data ever for your safety and protection.
Ruma: While social interactions are limited right now, there are still safety concerns that affect many people. Domestic violence is on the rise, and we want anyone that feels like they need the help to know they are not alone. We are offering the app for free for everyone since everyone deserves to have access to safety. These are unprecedented times, but now there is a way to feel safe inside your own home and have the confidence that help will be there if it’s needed.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. We just don’t get up and do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
Ruma: One day, Anthony told me his idea of a safety app, and the exact moment he explained his idea, I was on board. It was a no-brainer. No one has really put safety as a priority, and now we finally letting people feel empowered about their own safety.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Anthony: We had a user tell us she was being locked up in her bathroom by her husband each day when he went to work, and nobody believed her. She downloaded our app and was able to send a video using our SOS protocol to prove to her family that she was suffering this abuse. We found out later she was aged 60 years plus and had limited movement, and now her family can help her.
Ruma: I have many friends that feel very vulnerable when they are alone in common situations, such as rideshares, walking home alone, or even going on a run outside alone. UrSafe has helped give them the confidence and peace of mind knowing that they are not alone since UrSafe gives their contacts updates on their locations when they have the app on.
Are there three things that the community can do to help you in your great work?
Anthony: Share our app with anyone that you think could use it in their domestic life. Be aware of your surroundings each day, especially as we get back to a normal routine, it can be easy to go on auto pilot, drop our guards, and be a target. Try our app’s FollowME in your day to day life, from your daily journey to the store to having your kids use it to show their route on their way home.
Ruma: Start conversation about our own safety. It’s something new that many people really did not prioritize or thought there was a better way to protect ourselves.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a short story or example for each.
1) This entrepreneur journey is “relentless” but there are days that it works out that will make it worth it.
2) It is not for everyone as the emotional ups and downs are hard make sure you are mentally strong
3) You will fail, and it’s part of the journey but embrace it as you learn more from failure than some successes
4) Dream and have “Wild Thoughts” you can create anything and change the world
5) Ground yourself in some Faith to help you through the tough times
- Don’t let others negativity stand in the way of what you believe in.
- There will always be people who don’t believe in what you’re trying to do or even try to discourage you from doing what you believe in.
- There are always moments of doubt, but you have to overcome those doubts and look back on all the things that have been accomplished already.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious during this tumultuous time? Can you explain?
Ruma: Reach out to someone, check in on your friends and family, listen to someone and let them share their feelings, offer good advice and a helping hand if they need it.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
Anthony: All it takes is one person to make an impact, and you never know how you may impact others. Plus, giving back and helping others leaves you with an amazing feeling.
Ruma: Be involved in what is happening with the world. The small changes or actions we take now will benefit everyone’s future and our environment.
If you could start 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.
Anthony: It would be to increase mental health conversations for people of all back grounds and ages. I would just want people to know that we all struggle with mental stress and learning healthy mental hygiene is important.
Ruma: For me, it would be teaching people how we can help the environment. There are so many things people can do on a daily basis in our own lives that can make a big difference over time. Even just knowing how to recycle properly.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.
Anthony: Bill and Melinda Gates hands down. The couple has built the world’s largest foundation and spend nearly five billion dollars per year working on issues like public education, women and family planning, provide antiviral remedy to HIV patients around the world, vaccines to the poorest kids and much more. They have improved the lives of millions of people, and we at UrSafe hope our global safety app can have the same impact by making women feel safer around the world. The fact that none of these issues were impacting them particularly, but yet they have invested so much time and energy to go to these remote places and help so many people that can never repay them with anything but a “thank you,” is incredibly admirable. But if you are going to tag a person how about a person with 100M followers that has spoken out about Selena Gomez as she speaks out on social issue and has like 1 Billion followers.
Ruma: I’d have to say Oprah Winfrey since she is such an advocate for positive change in this world and inspires so many people in countless ways.
How can our readers follow you online?