• Guard Llama, a startup in the 2015 class of the National Association of Realtor's REach technology accelerator program, offers a key fob and smartphone app for personal safety.
  • If users need help, they can either double-press the button on the fob or the alarm button on the screen inside the app to notify a local emergency dispatch center.
  • The company says the solution allows users to keep their phones out of sight from attackers and minimizes the time and danger associated with calling 911 for help.
  • Real estate agents pay $9.95 per month or $99.95 per year for the subscription service.

Chicago-based technology startup Guard Llama is the latest company to offer a solution to address ongoing concerns about Realtor safety. Featuring a Bluetooth-enabled remote, the device sends the user’s security profile, pertinent medical information and live GPS location to the nearest police dispatch center in the event of an emergency.

Founded in 2013 by Northern Illinois University alumni in response to a campus attack, Guard Llama was created to help prevent violent physical and sexual assaults.

The company’s name was inspired by llamas that are used to protect farm animals and livestock in the western part of the country from coyotes, dogs, foxes and other predators.

“We were trying to find a name that was unique, memorable, and that gave the idea of safety without sounding like a home security company,” said Cara Narkun, head of marketing for Guard Llama.

Users get a low-energy, Bluetooth-enabled fob that they pair with an app installed on their smartphone. The program runs in the background and doesn’t drain the user’s device.

If users need help, they can either double-press the button on the fob or the alarm button on the screen inside the app.

Once activated, Guard Llama sends the user’s digital profile and GPS location to a local emergency dispatch center. Dispatchers will call to confirm the emergency.

The user can then disarm the alarm by entering a personal identification number. If the wrong code is entered more than once, the call will be treated as true distress, and police will be dispatched. If the user ignores the call, police will be dispatched anyway.

According to the company, the solution allows users to keep their phones out of sight from attackers and minimizes the time and danger associated with calling 911 for help.

“Users never have to take out their phone, dial 911 or explain their emergency,” Narkun said. “Our product is different from our competitors for a few reasons. We are the only product/service that automatically sends emergency responders by our app sending the exact GPS location of the user to the closest dispatch center. Also, we send our users’ altitude, so they can easily be found in a tall building.”

Guard Llama is available nationwide and accepted by all 911 dispatches. The company connects to dispatches in the same way that OnStar or ADT does. Guard Llama also has a certified, 24/7 security monitoring center.

There are no setup or signup fees associated with Guard Llama. Real estate agents pay $9.95 per month or $99.95 per year for the subscription service. Bulk discounts for brokerages are available.

Guard Llama was a chosen startup in the 2015 class of the REach technology accelerator program developed by Second Century Ventures, an early-stage technology fund and the strategic investment arm of the National Association of Realtors. The company works out of West Loop’s Catalyze Chicago co-working space for hardware entrepreneurs.

Email Amy Swinderman.