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Guardian Circle Taps Into The ‘Light Emergency’ Opportunity

Photo of Karol Severin
by Karol Severin

Guardian Circle is a new app, which allows you to build groups of ‘guardians’ consisting of personal contacts that you wish to rely on. You can send alerts to these groups immediately bringing your guardians into an ‘alert room’, where they see your location and can chat with you to figure out how to best help you. It's currently available on iOS, with an Android version to follow soon.

The app can help in situations like transport delays when there is no baby sitter, busting a tire, a child needing to be picked up unexpectedly, all the way to being ‘saved’ from a Tinder date that’s not going too well. You can create multiple guardian groups with different contacts for specific purposes.

The app, is free for now but will offer add-ons, such as the proposed $99 dollar gold membership which will include operators that can jump into the conversation and help you arrange actual emergency services if needed.

The concept is a great idea. But the execution will be key here. While I would never underestimate the purchasing power of worried parents in the US, The $99 annual fee might be a stretch for the majority of consumers if the only added value is simply connecting with emergency services inside a chat room. Sure, there will be a portion of parents who might pay these subscriptions for their children’s phones, but the app arguably has a much larger potential than just that.

To me, the main appeal of this app lies in the ‘light emergency solution’ use case. The situations where someone you can trust will help you actually solve your problem. To gain scale and monetize effectively though, early deployment of add-ons catering to these light emergencies will be crucial. Youngsters are a powerful force for driving app adoption. If they find the app useful themselves (e.g. through solving ‘high school emergencies’) they are much more likely to become advocates and actually convince parents to spend on the more expensive add-ons down the line. If on the other hand the app goes targeting the needs of worried parents too early, it risks creating the reputation of a ‘parental control app’ – against which the majority of youngsters will typically rebel. In line with this, cheaper and youth-friendly add-ons could include charging for creating more than 3 different guardian groups, activating the microphone so you can communicate without typing or keeping an unsuspicious screen not to make my alert too obvious. In the future the company could well consider recruiting an army of ‘heroes’ around town whom users could add as their guardians for specific problems at a specific monthly premiums.

While the idea of solving real emergencies this way may sound gimmicky to some, it’s clear that Guardian Circle has the potential to impact on people’s lives in a significant way, through the aforementioned ‘light emergencies’. If this scales, the app could contribute to a decrease in unnecessary emergency calls, making the real emergency services more effective.

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