AUSTIN, Texas - Five University of Texas at Austin students developed a self-defense device called Pocket Punch, a multi-functional tool to help protect and empower people to feel safe on campus.
It all started with a business class, the students were randomly assigned a group to work on a product they thought was needed in the community.
For all five women, it was the need to feel safe. "We just kind of thought about how we don't feel safe walking home at night, just wherever you are, we carry our keys between our fingers or we have our own pepper sprays on our key chains but obviously we wanted a little more," UT Senior Meagan Doyle said.
The women reflected on past tragedies, the murder of Huruka Weiser in 2016 and the fatal stabbing of their classmate Harrison Brown a year later.
Safety became a priority and it empowered the group to create a device with four different items. Pocket punch has pepper spray, plastic knuckles, a flashlight, and a safety alarm.
To help bring the product to life, the students approached an engineering student with access to a 3-D printer. "I thought the product was awesome,” said UT Senior Sydney Marvin. “My initial reaction was first of all what a great name Pocket Punch and the idea of having knuckles in the project was something I had never thought about." she said while holding the 17th version of the product in her hand.
The development of the product was a lengthy training and error process. The group faced several challenges in developing Pocket Punch, one was the legalization of knuckles. The state didn’t legalize brass knuckles until September 1st of this year.
Now with the state on the students’ side, the group is working on financing the product to get it off the ground. "In the last couple of weeks we were like we need to launch our crowd funding campaign because we need to raise money to manufacture our product," said UT senior Ashley Raymond.
Raymond said they have about 100 people on a wait list for the product and are crowd sourcing on Gofundme. They are also entering in pitch competitions and talking to investors. In hopes of sharing Pocket Punch with others so they can be safe, prepared and empowered