Saskatchewan’s Kasiel Solutions Inc. introduces ORA to the wearable technology marketplace.
“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.”
You probably remember this trademarked phrase and its cheesy commercial. 10 years before anyone could Google anything, and 25 years before Alexa could order you a pizza, wearable tech was already making a mark on the world and hoping to make people safer.
In 2013, when Serese Selanders started exploring solutions to help keep her ailing father safe, she discovered lifestyle technology hadn’t been keeping pace with other technologies. “My mom had passed away and my dad got sick. Things changed for me, and I went from being the daughter to the caregiver,” says Selanders, CEO and founder of Kasiel Solutions Inc.
She was stunned by the stagnation and lack of options in the industry. “The medical alert industry has been around for 40 years but hasn’t changed much. It hadn’t evolved,” she explains. Selanders’ background was entirely in the financial services industry. However, she saw a need. She gathered a team and leapt into wearable tech. Originally, Kasiel Solutions worked on a product to help seniors keep their independence and their caregivers a peace of mind.
Meet ORA, Kasiel’s first product.
“We started with an app, but quickly realized that was not going to be enough. When you’re in an emergency situation and need help, you need something on your person,” explains Selanders. “From the app, we started looking at the hardware. We looked for an off-the-shelf solution, and we knew aesthetics was going to be important,” she says. Everything they found lacked critical features they were looking for. “With an iPhone there wasn’t a way to unlock the phone from a sleep state. With Android devices, it wouldn’t work if the app was off,” recalls Selanders. “We realized we had to build the hardware.”
She admits they thought the software was the difficult part, but they soon found out hardware has its own challenges. “Hardware is hard,” laughs Selanders.
Like all entrepreneurs, adaptation has played a huge role in the survival of the company. 2019 looks to include additional growth as Kasiel is set to release a new brand specifically for the business-to-business market. “We’re always in discussion, always looking for improvements. We need to continuously explore additions and improvements that consumers are requesting. One of these is a monitored solution,” says Selanders.
Currently, the product provides a one-touch alert to a designated network through your phone. If the network contacts don’t respond, your phone dials 911. And, ORA is looking to add ongoing monitoring to their offering.
Kasiel Solutions operates out of Saskatchewan’s two incubators—Co.Labs in Saskatoon and the Cultivator, the Conexus Business Incubator in Regina. Their team fluctuates and is spread across Canada like many tech companies are, but their core is based here in Saskatchewan. Kasiel Solutions made the conscious decision early on to manufacture and develop locally and Canadian as much as they could.
Being in Saskatchewan has helped them manage quality control, and made it easier to export to the United States. ORA adheres to North American Standards for Electronic Hardware Devices and the various regulations surrounding dialing 911. “The safety component of what we do adds a layer of responsibility that we have to get right. That’s a barrier to entry and we don’t think you’re going to see a lot of companies like ours,” says Selanders.
Discreet. Functional. Constantly evolving and packaged in a housing people would actually wear, ORA is helping to keep people safe across North America. With numerous patents pending, Kasiel Solutions Inc. is helping Saskatchewan technology companies keep pace with much larger, more traditional technology centres. Look out Silicon Valley—another Saskatchewan tech start-up is coming.