Entrepreneurship is essentially about problem solving; finding a gap in the market, an area yet untapped, a new way to do something – and building a business from there. We’d like to introduce you to a team of entrepreneurs that have put their minds towards solving a whopper of a problem that could have significant impact on road safety the world over.
Introducing CannaTech Tel Aviv’s Live Pitch winners, Isaac Hassan and Andres Kukawka and their very promising startup Otorize.
Otorize is a unique technology developed to prevent impaired driving….and any kind of impaired driving; alcohol, prescription medication or cannabis.
About three years ago, Andres, co-founder and CEO of Otorize experienced that famed light bulb moment described by so many problem solvers before him. He was in the car, listening to a news report on the radio that was broadcasting some alarming statistics about drunk driving in a small district in Israel.
“The report said that 143 people had been arrested for drunk driving in the Sharon area of Israel alone…which statistically meant that there were at least another 1,500 people that were driving drunk who were not arrested” Andres explained. “Every 51 minutes in United States someone dies from a DUI which equals 10,000 deaths a year due to driving under the influence. And those numbers are pretty much replicated in the world-over.”
“We realized that more and more states around the world were coming online with medical and recreational cannabis programs and understood that there needs to be a solution for detecting impairment for all kinds of intoxicants. So, we started looking for a digital solution to stop people from driving impaired in the first place.”
Andres and co-founder Isaac Hassan have developed a scientifically proven test to identify cognitive impairment and reduce the likelihood of impaired driving. At present they are running a clinical trial under the auspices of the Israeli Ministry of Health’s Cannabis Unit on 100 active medical cannabis consumers in conjunction with Ichilov Hospital Acute Pain Clinic.
How does it work?
“When we’re talking about drugs, street drugs, prescription or nonprescription drugs, the presence of the drugs in the body only points to the fact that the individual has taken that substance, it doesn’t mean that at that moment the individual is actually impaired. So the first thing to understand are the immediate cognitive abilities of the driver” Isaac explains.
“We knew that this solution had to be something friendly, easy to use and easy to deploy. The smartphone was the obvious direction.
“We came up with an app, (available on the app store for android phones only at this time) that provides a user-friendly cognitive impairment test. This app allows the user to catch their impairment and based on the results, allows the app to enable or disable the immobilizer on their car, essentially removing the ability for impaired individuals to drive.”
What kind of function does Otorize test?
Much like the traditional drunk driving test when a police officer will ask the suspected driver to walk a straight line and touch their nose, Otorize tests for the same things:
- The ability to follow instructions
- The ability to understand what you’re being asked to do
- The ability to perform the action
- The ability to perform that action in a very focused manner
- The ability to understand and remember all those steps
The Otorize solution not only empowers the conscientious driver with a powerful tool for self-regulation, but, more than that, offers to extend that conscientiousness to the heads of households i.e parents, insurance companies, and fleet owners, in order to ensure the safety of those under their care.
“Most people when they drink, they’ll say, “you know I think I’m okay to drive,” so they drive. Only when they’re stopped by either the police or an accident, do they realize that they’re not okay to drive,” explained Isaac.
“We’re giving the opportunity to take responsibility in a very simple fashion, and allowing parents, fleet owners and insurance companies the ability to connect into the technology of the car and lower the risk profile of people that could potentially be drinking or otherwise intoxicated.”
For the meantime, Otorize has a sharp focus on perfecting the technology and is currently in testing with over 100 active users. As they grow they will shift their focus towards educational and social initiatives to raise awareness of this potentially life saving tool, hoping to onboard support from groups like MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).
About the CannaTech Pitch Event:
Otorize joined CannaTech’s Live Pitch Event this past March in Tel Aviv and had the opportunity to “pitch” their big idea to a panel of esteemed judges, investors, potential partners and customers. The room was packed and the energy was palpable. CannaTech is a global platform focused on accelerating innovation within the cannabis industry, and Otorize were real standouts in this arena.
“CannaTech is the first competition that we participated in and we won! We are getting a lot of inquiries from states that have legalized and have had a lot of incredible follow up following the CananTech pitch. It was a really positive experience,” CEO Andres said.
In addition to the exposure and positive feedback they received, Otorize also received a free full-page ad in Cannabis Now Magazine, legal services from APM Law, and financial services from Deloitte Israel.
“As medical and recreational cannabis becomes increasingly legal, driving under the influence is definitely an issue many are thinking about,” said pitch judge Saul Kaye, CEO of iCAN: Israel-Cannabis and CannaTech. “Otorize is an idea that is important, timely and marketable.”
There’s no end to the problems we can solve when we put our minds to it. We look forward to hearing great things. Congrats to Otorize!