LifeShel at 30 Under 30

The Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia last week attracted a kaleidoscope of big-name celebrities, entrepreneurs and global activists who circulated the Philadelphia Convention Center.

Pittsburgh startup LifeShel was there, selected from among 100 entrepreneurs who vied for a chance to pitch in a pressure cooker, final round of Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest. Fresh off their win at the Pittsburgh challenge at AlphaLabGear this fall, LifeShel was one of five startups who pitched for the $400,000 prize.

“It was totally crazy,” says Jayon Wang, cofounder of LifeShel. “Malala Yousafzai was there, right off her win as Nobel laureate.  I chatted with Monica Lewinsky who was there to speak about cyber bullying.”

“Arguably we were entertainment for the summit,” he adds. “I’ve never been on stage in front of so many great people.”

The startups pitched in a packed ballroom before an all-star panel of judges that included Steve Case, Founder and CEO of Atom Factory Troy Carter and Forbes Media CEO Mike Perlis. The stakes were high, with an equity investment of $150,000 from Case and another $100,000 from Forbes Media and Carter. Forbes also threw in another $250,000 in free advertising and services from Forbes.

Wang pitched first, effectively explaining LifeShel’s smartphone app and phone cover. The product arms users with alarms and whistles that emit a piercing sound and crowdsource a community of first responders in an effort to protect against sexual predators.

While he received a standing ovation from the star-studded crowd, sadly, LifeShel didn’t win. Enrou won the challenge, an online platform that claims to empower people through the power of trade.

Still, it still felt like a win, Wang says. LifeShel is in the final week of its kickstarter campaign and has raised $44,300 of its $70,000 goal.

Deb is an award-winning journalist who loves ancient places and cool technologies. A former daily newspaper reporter and Time-Life Books editor, she writes mostly about Pittsburgh. Her stories have appeared in Fast Company, Ozy and Pittsburgh Magazine.