Ben Stagg and Chad White have been a team since 2003 and, in the past 12 years, have essentially become joined at the hip. Lunch with the co-founders of Halo Smart Labs is very much a lunch spent in the company of two best friends (who might act like an old married couple). The two swap stories interspersed with phrases like, “Do you remember when” and, “Was that really four years ago?” At Halo, we want you to know who we are and what drives us. I sat down with Ben and Chad to talk about how they started working together, what pushed them to create Halo, and what’s next for Halo Smart Labs. The two co-founders are shy when talking about themselves but unabashedly enthusiastic when it comes to their product and their values. By now, you probably know the basic Halo story:
Halo Smart Labs was born out of tragedy and developed out of necessity. Ben’s father had a close call when tornadoes in Joplin, MO, took the lives of 160 people in 2011. He began to question the usefulness of current tornado warning systems. Ben and Chad teamed up to create a safer way to protect families from tornadoes, but quickly incorporated other natural disasters into their industry-first alert system. Later, after a home fire struck another one of Ben’s family members in 2014, the co-founders realized the shortcomings of current smoke detectors and set out to build the world’s safest, smartest smoke alarm right here in the USA. Soon, Halo and Halo WX were born.But there’s more to any partnership than a byline, or even a paragraph on what started this particular venture. The two entrepreneurs are passionate about community, and have a level of integrity that’s often far too hard to come by. Their desire to create smart technology and innovate in the area of home automation is driven by a desire to help people—their dream of creating Halo was instigated by the tragedies affecting Ben’s family, but quickly became a national and global mission to revolutionize fire and weather safety technology in the home. Here’s just some of what they had to say about their passion at Halo Smart Labs: What drove the two of you to create this venture? Ben: We wanted to leverage technology in order to make people’s lives safer. After the 2011 tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri, Chad and I began developing concepts that could improve safety in a variety of severe weather events. We realized that applications like smoke alarms, which already provide a certain set of critical warnings, could be overhauled and used to make a difference when it comes to not only receiving better alerts about home fires, but also revolutionizing the way we receive severe weather warnings. What’s your background, and what brought you into the field of safety and home automation? Chad: I started about in medical sales, and Ben worked in IT and data distribution. This is the first consumer product we’ve worked on together. How has your partnership evolved? Both: You know, we’re basically an old married couple. Chad: This kind of partnership is very much a marriage. You have to trust your business partner completely, and we do. Ben: I’ll have a best friend in Chad for the rest of my life. Even when we lived in opposite coasts, we talked every day, bouncing ideas off one another. We come from very different fields and approach problems in very different ways, so we’re always challenging each other to look at things differently. Tell me about one time when things didn’t go so well. Chad: Well, there was that one time—Ben sent a camera crew to my house one morning, and I didn’t know until they showed up…maybe the message wasn’t conveyed, something happened. Anyway, I was mad. That’s probably the one time in 12 years that I’ve been mad, the closest we came to a fight—and then I thought, it’s been how many years? Am I going to pick today to get mad about this? We worked it out, and it was good. Ben: You know, overall, Chad and I work extremely well together and we’re really in alignment on all the important stuff—values, work ethics, how we want to run a company. At the end of the day, there’s no one I’d rather do this with. Chad: Absolutely. Halo’s already well on its way. What’s next for you and for Halo Smart Labs? What direction are things going in? Ben: We’re excited by home automation and safety technology, so we plan to continue focusing on these kinds of connected devices, which we believe can have a huge, positive impact in customers’ lives. Chad: There are so many reasons people are drawn to connected homes—the elevated safety, the innovation, the simplicity a connected home can offer. What we’re driven to create will be in response to meeting all those needs.