2019 SHOT Show Pop-Up
Vara will be presenting at the 2019 SHOT Show in the Pop-Up Preview which is held on Wednesday.
Our booth # is W1744. Come by to see our upcoming product, Reach, and meet us!
Growing the Team
Within the last few months, we have hired three new people to join the Vara team.
Welcome Austin, Connor, and Jill to the team! We are very excited to bring on these wonderful individuals as we tackle the immense effort of bringing a product to market. As we bring on more people, we realize how much our core mission of better safety is what bring people together to the initiative.
New Office Location
Vara has moved to our own space in Latham, New York. The new location has a manufacturing space for the engineers to work on future product development as well as conduct testing. It also has traditional office space with enough room for our upcoming company growth.
Vara has received a $750,000 investment from an angel investor, bringing to total funds secured to over $1 million, This is the first seed round that Vara has raised since starting out.
Funding will be used to create a highly effective product launch and grow the Vara team, as we bring on more great people to make this company into a success.
$20,000 Award from Veteran Affairs
Vara won a grant from the VA's Gun Safety Matters Challenge, which was an initiative to find solutions addressing veteran suicide. We are extremely honored to be selected for this challenge and will be working hard on developing our proposed solution which ties in with Reach.
A new provisional patent was submitted for review by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Within a record time of just three months, the patent was fully approved!
Additional intellectual property surrounding our technology verticals is also being filed as we develop our IP portfolio.
NYSRPA President joins Advisory
We met with Tom King, the president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, who was extremely enthusiastic about Reach. His industry expertise and network will be immensely advantageous as we prepare for product launch.
“This product is going to revolutionize the firearm safety industry” - Tom King
Product design is complete! After feedback from over several thousand gun over the last few years and countless revisions, we have locked down the final design and specifications for Reach.
Feedback regarding battery life, fingerprint reliability, mechanical key override, adaptability to other handguns, and other important features were all taken and incorporated into the product.
Now, we are preparing for launch which means key partnerships and getting manufacturing ready.
$50,000 Manufacturing Grant
Vara has recently won the 2018 Fuzehub Manufacturing Grant from the Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund. Partnering with the Center For Economic Growth (CEG), Vara will be using the grant to develop their Design-For-Manufacturing (DFM) in their Upstate NY manufacturing facility.
We have experts bringing their manufacturing experience from Boeing, Benet Laboratories, Remington, Smith&Wesson, etc to ensure we can create a premier quality product that is rigorously tested for reliability.
Jorel joins as CTO
Timmy met Jorel through a virtual reality startup in Troy, NY. Jorel initially started on a project-basis in the embedded systems development of Reach. After August, Jorel joined Vara full-time.
Jorel has had extensive experience in product development, manufacturing and intellectual property strategy as the former CTO of Vital Vio, a biomedical lighting company. Prior to Vital Vio, he worked on a variety of engineering projects through Lib3, an engineering consulting firm he founded.
Incorporated as Vara
In August 2017, Vara Corporation was established as a Delaware C Corporation. Timmy moved back to Upstate NY, where he had cultivated a network with the startup community as well as gun stores, law enforcement and civilian gun owners.
The team obtained a shared manufacturing space through Tony Hynes (PVA) in Clifton Park.
Meeting with U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissioner
At the headquarters of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Timmy met with the Commissioner of the to better understand the safety guidelines around existing gun safes and locking devices.
Christine Tate joins as COO
Timmy met Christine during his preparation for the NYSBPC through her advice as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Severino Center. Christine is active in the Upstate New York startup community as an event judge, mentor, investor and advisor as well as the Chair of UNY50 Leadership Network.
Prior to becoming involved in early stage investing and mentoring, Christine worked for Cargill, Inc. in a variety of executive level positions, including Overseas Business Development based in Asia, Worldwide Audit, Tech and IT Development, and corporate level system and strategic efficiencies.
Product Development and IP Pivot
The provisional patent which had been filed a few months prior was rejected by the USPTO. This required Timmy to completely redesign the mechanisms and led to the development of the insert system that became the new core IP piece.
Over the course of the year after the business competition, Timmy spent his time developing rapid iterations of prototypes at a shared makerspace in Costa Mesa, CA.
$100,000 NY Business Competition
Placing 1st out of 2200 teams in New York, Timmy won the $100,000 New York State Business Competition. A week prior to the competition, Timmy drove to all of the surrounding gun stores in the Capitol area and secured 8 letters of intent from these stores. In addition, he had completed over 1000 direct interviews during his market discovery phase. Winning the competition allowed Timmy to take a leave from college and build a team.
Panel Speaker on Capitol Hill, D.C.
The Nexus Global Youth Summit was held on Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. where a community of exceptional young social entrepreneurs, philanthropists and impact investors committed to creating a better world gathered together. With the STCF, Timmy presented as a speaker on a panel on gun violence to share his innovation and findings.
Featured on LA Times
Shortly after winning the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation, Timmy was featured on the Los Angeles Times as one of the innovators pioneering technology development in firearm safety.
$1M Smart Tech Challenges Foundation
After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting incident, investors in Silicon Valley put their money towards a $1 million competition to incentivize tech development in firearm safety. Timmy applied with his new concept that he had been working on after his LAPD research and won a Phase 1 grant of $10,000. There were nine other winners selected from all around the world, some developing smartguns and most a lot further ahead in development. But $10,000 gave Timmy the resources to kickstart development.
Los Angeles Police Department
The following summer, Timmy obtained approval from the Firearm & Tactics Division of the LAPD to conduct research at their academy. The entire focus during this time was learning about pain points in the current day-to-day of these officers’ lives. Through conversations, Timmy discovered a recurring problem when these highly-trained officers came home to their families. The critical pain point: needing to choose between safe storage (locking up the home-protection handgun) or immediate access (having the gun unlocked and ready).
Timothy Oh was only 17 years old when he won his first competition at RPI, the college he attended for mechanical engineering. The initial idea was a gun safety barrel lock he had worked on during his high school years back in California. His experience came from growing up with firearms through law enforcement family and friends. Despite winning the $1000 competition, when Timmy took the idea to several thousand people on AR15.com, it got completely rejected- people hated it. But important feedback from these members started him towards a journey for creating better safety.