Founder Friday: Francisco Aguilar, Bounce Imaging

The job of an emergency responder is certainly not an easy one. You have to be ready at any moment for the unexpected, and often your own life is at risk while saving another.

That dedication and drive inspired Francisco Aguilar, founder of 2016 43North Winner Bounce Imaging. He saw a need to protect those who work tirelessly to protect us, and developed a 360-degree throwable camera that firefighters, police officers, and first-responders can use to assess a potentially dangerous environment before entering. The camera can send photos directly to the first-responder’s smartphone or virtual reality device, allowing them to develop a strategic plan to rescue those trapped inside a collapsing structure or hostage situation.

Bounce Imaging has been recognized as a best invention by both Time Magazine and CNN, and are expanding rapidly to fire and police departments and other first-responder organizations across the country. Read on to learn more about Francisco and the work that Bounce Imaging is doing to keep the lives of first-responders safer.

How did your startup, well, start up?

Bounce Imaging started as a project out of the Harvard Innovation Lab and MIT as we looked at the response to the Haiti earthquake and tried to figure out how you could search collapsed structures more quickly.

What do you do? Your startup?

We make 360/VR throwable cameras for police, search and rescue, and other first-responders. We let these professionals throw or otherwise deploy a low-cost camera into a dangerous environment and get an instant 360/VR video view of that space right on their smartphone or VR headset.

What is the best part/worst part of your day as a founder?

Best: Working directly with amazing first-responders.

Worst: Financials and fundraising!

When was the ‘aha’ moment for your startup when you realized this could actually work?

The real validation came when we started having first-responders go from saying “cool concept” to using our system and saying “Wow – this is unlike anything we’ve ever used before. This will save lives.”

What tools can you not live without and why?

Email and Slack. We’re a global team and need to stay in close communication across thousands of miles.

What was some important advice you received when starting up and who told it to you?

“Everything will take 3X as long and cost 5X as much as you think it will.” – Everyone

Goals for the next year? Three years?

Continue to grow within the law enforcement and search and rescue markets while expanding into new sectors like industrial safety.

Why Buffalo?

Buffalo has offered us a great reception. Not only is it a city with a proud tradition of manufacturing real products that make a difference, the first-responder community in Buffalo has received us with a warmth and enthusiasm that has been amazing.

How do you do it? What drives you?

I get to work with an amazing group of engineers who could be working for twice the pay and half the work, but want to make a difference in the world, and with first-responders who put their lives on the line to keep us safe and yet are humble and committed to service. That’s great motivation.