Personal safety while traveling is still a growing concern, especially for women traveling alone.

This is the thought that Jillian Tancil had in mind when she founded TanTek Technologies last year, a tech startup manufacturing necklaces equipped with tracking devices. The necklaces sync with a mobile application that shows approved contacts a person’s exact whereabouts. Consumers can also safely send emergency alerts through the necklace or app to approved contacts.

“I never really intended to go into business. It’s not what I went to school for,” Tancil told AfroTech in a video interview.

Tancil is an attorney by trade. During her third year of law school at Harvard University, she went on a solo spring break trip to Paris; this was the experience that birthed TanTek. Being the only girl out of her siblings, Tancil and her family often worry about safety, especially while traveling. Tancil’s wheels started turning when she did some research amid her trip and found that there aren’t many devices that could send automatic tracking alerts when someone is in a dangerous situation.

Credit: TanTek Technologies

“It got me thinking, what if something did happen? How would I let someone know safely?” Tancil said. “Of course you have certain features on your phone, and you can manually reach out to people for help, but there are situations where you can’t easily do that.”

Tancil has no prior experience launching a tech startup or business of any nature, so she’s been learning as she goes and setting new goals along the way. As of now, Tancil is a one-person team. She’s in the development stage and has been working with an engineering company to build prototypes of the TanTek necklace, but receiving funding has been her biggest hurdle to-date.

“Trying to get the funds to complete this process can be a little tough. Prototype development was put on hold because of funding,” Tancil said.

Tancil is reaching out to investors, sending cold emails, and pitching to anyone interested in supporting TanTek. She eventually wants to partner with colleges, universities, nursing homes, and other larger institutions that might find Tantek’s product beneficial to their communities. 

When conceptualizing her startup, Tancil said she was also thinking of her grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s when she was creating her startup. Of course, there are other competitors like Life Alert out on the market, but Tancil hopes to offer a little more with TanTek’s features. Tancil said the Black community is another prominent driving force behind her desire to launch TanTek. 

“Black women and children go missing in this country at disproportionate rates; African Americans are disproportionately represented in the number of sex trafficking victims, and African Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than Caucasians,” Tancil said. “TanTek will be extremely beneficial for the Black community and help provide that peace of mind in caring for their loved ones.”

Necklaces will be valued at$99.99 each and come in gold, rose gold, sterling silver, and black. Tancil is hoping to have her company’s flagship product on the market by the end of 2022. If you support her mission, check out TanTek Technologies’ crowdfunding campaign.

“I really believe in this product and the number of people it could help,” Tancil said.