Fusar Co-Founder Ryan Shearman credits the State's technology ecosystem with helping to build his company.
TRENTON (October 20, 2016) – Linking his enthusiasm for motorcycle riding with a desire to ensure the safety of fellow riders, New Jersey entrepreneur Ryan Shearman co-founded Fusar Technologies in 2013. Fusar develops technology that can turn regular helmets into smart helmets for cyclists, motorcyclists, skaters, skiers and snowboarders to use during their adventures.
Fusar describes its Universal Smart Helmet System as “an action camera, communication system, navigation unit, black box and emergency response system all wrapped into one.” Among the wide variety of features available to adventure seekers, the FUSAR Camera can detect when a user has been in an accident, retroactively record the last two minutes of action before the accident, alert the person’s emergency contact and show that contact the user’s exact location through an interactive map. Users can also take high-resolution photos and HD video with a push of a button during their adventures and share them through social or traditional media via the FUSAR app, which is now available on both iOS and Android. The technology also allows up to 12 people to chat via Bluetooth, no matter how far apart they are.
This summer, Fusar gained national exposure when it appeared on CNBC’s series premiere of “Adventure Capitalists,” in which adventure-related companies seek funding in a “Shark Tank” style show. Shearman, who is also Fusar’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), made sure that the show promoted the fact that the company hailed from New Jersey.
“The New Jersey technology community has been part of our narrative since day one,” Shearman told @NJEDATech. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the ample support from so many facets of the state’s technology sector.”
Fusar has benefited from multiple resources available to New Jersey’s emerging technology innovators through the State and other organizations invested in the industry’s success.
“New Jersey’s innovation ecosystem is built on the backs of those entrepreneurs who combine a personal passion with a desire to fill a gap in the marketplace,” New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) CEO Melissa Orsen said. “In less than three years, Jersey City-based Fusar has grown into a company that exemplifies how small businesses can leverage public and private resources to grow and thrive in the Garden State.”
The company is one of 40 businesses that the EDA approved to share $35 million through the State’s Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer (NOL) Program in Fiscal Year 2017. Administered by the EDA and the New Jersey Department of Treasury's Division of Taxation, this competitive program enables eligible technology and biotechnology companies to sell New Jersey tax losses and/or research and development tax credits to raise non-dilutive cash to finance their growth and operations.
Fusar also participated in a New Jersey Founders & Funders event in 2014. Held at the EDA’s Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies in North Brunswick, the event enables early-stage businesses to meet with potential investors in 10-minute, one-on-one “speed dating” sessions to discuss strategy, business models and funding opportunities.
Fusar is also a graduate of the TechLaunch accelerator’s third cohort. An added avenue for emerging technology companies as they grow, accelerators like TechLaunch can provide early-stage technology companies with capital, mentorship, business training, key services and exposure to qualified investors, which will increase their value as an enterprise and the likelihood of follow-on funding.
Additionally, the team’s first two rounds of funding were led by JumpStart New Jersey Angel Network, an active group of investors in early-stage technology ventures in the region and frequent New Jersey Founders & Funders participant. The EDA provided seed capital for both TechLaunch and JumpStart.
@NJEDATech spoke with Shearman about Fusar’s experience in New Jersey and its plans for the future:
Why did you choose to grow Fusar in New Jersey?
My co-founders and I all grew up in Bergen County, so the obvious choice for us was to make a go at starting a company here in our home state. When we learned about all of the great programs New Jersey has in place to help foster innovation, it made so much sense to us to stay on this side of the river instead of building our company in New York City.
What was the best piece of advice you received at NJ Founders and Funders?
We attended the New Jersey Founders & Funders event when we were still very young and hadn’t solidified our go-to-market strategy. One of the best takeaways from that day was that it was ok that our plan was still in flux and that we didn’t need to have answers for every single question at that early stage. It’s better to tell an investor that you don’t have all of the answers, as long as you know where to find them and can demonstrate that successfully.
What do you consider your company’s biggest success to date?
Shipping product. I’ve commercialized over one hundred consumer products for other companies during my career, but I will never forget the day that my co-founder and I dropped off our first batch of hardware products at the post office. We only shipped out a few dozen units that day, but it was the culmination of over two years of hard work, determination, and a lot of ramen noodles.
What’s on the horizon for Fusar?
We’re gearing up to put the FUSAR Camera in production, while at the same time trying to handle increasing demand from distributors and retailers both here in the U.S. and abroad. More and more people are learning about our products on a daily basis, which is fundamentally great, but that also brings new challenges. We’re going to have to raise our Series A financing in the not-so-distant future in order to support continued growth right here in the Garden State.
For more information about resources available to support New Jersey’s technology industry, visit http://www.njeda.com/tls and follow @NJEDATech on Twitter and LinkedIn.