Lisa Falzone, founder of Athena Security
This week Athena Security announces the successful launch and implementation of the world’s first artificial intelligence security camera system capable of instantly and accurately recognizing an active shooter before they shoot, alerting law enforcement and verbally alerting the assailant that Police are en route.
Historically, security cameras are only as useful as the people actively monitoring them. Without real-time oversight, unattended security camera feeds only help to piece together crimes after the fact. Past AI and computer vision technologies provided far too many false positives and therefore could not be deployed because they would erroneously alert law enforcement every couple of minutes rendering them useless.
Athena Security’s AI-powered system provides authorities with real-time video footage helping speed police and medical aid to any type of crime scene decreasing fatalities with faster response times. Athena Security’s AI, powered by the NVIDIA 2080 RTX graphics card, showcases a computer vision algorithm that continuously monitors each and every camera frame regardless of location and the moment a weapon or criminal act occurs, the system alerts Police and speeds in delivering aid.
Athena Security can, in some cases, prevent crime by alerting the criminal and deterring them from continuing by stating that law enforcement is on the way. Athena Security works with existing security camera systems or can be deployed as a comprehensive stand-alone solution.
The company is the brainchild of former Revel Systems co-founders Lisa Falzone (Forbes 30U30 and Fortune 40U40) and Chris Ciabarra who raised over $120 million in funding building a leading Apple iPad POS company with over 700 employees. I was excited to discuss CEO and co-founder of Athena Security Lisa Falzone’s journey to starting her second company.
Hayley Leibson: What inspired you to start Athena Security?
Lisa Falzone: Right when all of these school shootings were happening. We weren’t doing anything; we weren’t creating, and we realized we’re really meant to create and build. We wanted to really help the world and help save people. We just couldn’t believe that technology wasn’t more of a factor in getting police to these crime scenes faster.
We looked at the current security surveillance cameras out there, and we noticed they all very reactive, and nothing was proactive. Nothing was actually trying to help stop the crime. And so we said: ‘How can we use artificial intelligence to make these security cameras proactive to actually go out there and help prevent crime?’ That was the genesis of the idea.
Leibson: You have a B.A. in history from Stanford, and have been able to start two tech companies which is extremely impressive. How were you able to accomplish that?
Falzone: I thought about ideas from like a toy company to a swimsuit distribution company. I realized that software is actually one of the easiest businesses to start because you don’t have to put in much upfront capital. One of the reasons why I got into software is because it wasn’t a very expensive business to start.
Leibson: What would you say to an aspiring female founder who was worried about starting a company without a technical background or MBA?
Falzone: Having an MBA or a technical degree doesn’t really help you in my opinion. But actually doing a company really helps you. So many founders don’t have the technology to create. People try to mislead people and say, ‘You have to have a CS degree.’ Even in Silicon Valley with CEOs of tech companies; so many of them don’t have a technical degree, because business is so much more than just programming. Make sure you have a great vision and make sure you’re good at selling the idea. Those are the two main things for a CEO and everything else, you can hire. You have to go out there and do it. There is no other way.
Leibson: What have been a few of your biggest learnings as a second-time founder?
Falzone: At first I thought firing someone or having investor talks were a huge deal. I remember, for example, the first time I fired someone. I remember crying to my mom. Now, it’s an unfortunate part of doing business.
Leibson: Any advice for founders looking to solve big societal problems like gun control?
Falzone: I think AI gets a bad rap. You should be thinking positively about how we should use AI for good. ‘How can we use this to help people? How can we use this to say, protect people, save people’s lives, makes people’s lives better?’ I hope I can be an example in that and how more people thinking about making the world a better place through technology and not just thinking about how much return there is.