Adventure Capitalists

This entrepreneur hopes a tiny tweak to helmets will save lives

When Ryan Shearman woke up on the side of New York City's West Side Highway in 2012 half-conscious following a motorcycle crash, he waited nearly an hour for an ambulance to arrive.

"It really got me thinking, why wasn't there a product like OnStar for motorcycles?" Shearman said.

Enter Fusar, a smart helmet technology company that Shearman founded in 2013 and demoed on the premiere episode of CNBC's "Adventure Capitalists," a reality show in which entrepreneurs pitch their adventure products to investors in the great outdoors. Developed a year after his crash, Fusar's kit can clip on to any helmet.

At first sight, the product left potential investors Craig Cooper, Jeremy Bloom and Dhani Jones underwhelmed.

"Why couldn't GoPro duplicate this in a week's period of time?" Bloom asked. "You've got a small team; they've got a big team."

The FUSAR is a three-part kit that consists of a bluetooth headset, handlebar remote, and camera that can mount on to any helmet.
CNBC
The FUSAR is a three-part kit that consists of a bluetooth headset, handlebar remote, and camera that can mount on to any helmet.

But Shearman said he's put it all on the line — he emptied out his 401(k) and used his life savings — to innovate in areas GoPro hasn't yet, like communication, navigation and safety.

One of the core components of the Fusar helmet kit — and the one Cooper believes makes the product a standout among the competition — is its safety system, which is designed to aid motorcyclists after a collision has occurred.

In 2014, the fatality rate for registered motorcycle riders was six times the fatality rate for passenger car occupants, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. During that year, the NHTSA estimated that helmets saved 1,669 motorcyclists' lives.

Shearman hopes his Fusar helmet kit will save even more. Fusar's user-friendly emergency response system detects when a collision has occurred, sends alerts to emergency contacts, provides those contacts with an exact GPS location of where the accident occurred and finds the phone numbers for the closest EMS dispatchers.

Fusar founder and CEO Ryan Shearman pitches his smart helmet technology to Craig Cooper and fellow investors Jeremy Bloom and Dhani Jones. Cooper was impressed with the product's safety technology features and decided to serve on Fusar's board of advisors.
CNBC
Fusar founder and CEO Ryan Shearman pitches his smart helmet technology to Craig Cooper and fellow investors Jeremy Bloom and Dhani Jones. Cooper was impressed with the product's safety technology features and decided to serve on Fusar's board of advisors.

On top of safety, the kit is designed to be fun. "The majority of my hours spent on a motorcycle are with some of my best friends," Shearman told CNBC.

To enhance the motorcycle riding experience, the Fusar has a communication system that enables its users to chat with up to 12 people across any distance. It also has an action camera that captures HD photos and videos. All of the functions can be accessed by pressing a button on the wrist or handlebar remote.

The Fusar bundle kit — which includes a headset, camera and handlebar remote — costs $499 — but consumers have the option to purchase each component as a stand-alone item.

Fusar is currently in an open beta phase and has garnered users in over 30 countries. In 2016, Fusar earned approximately $150,000 in net revenue.

To prove his product's capabilities, on Monday's episode of "Adventure Capitalists," Shearman gave each of the three investors a Fusar-embedded helmet and set the investors off on a remote ride through the mountains to find Shearman. The goal: locate Shearman using his helmet's emergency response system.

While the investors successfully located Shearman, Cooper and Bloom's Bluetooth devices lost touch with Jones — a major shortcoming in a system that completely relies on its communication system.

"We were lucky enough to get your emergency signal," Jones told Shearman. "The service was really spotty." Shearman said he expects improvements in cellular infrastructure to eradicate such hiccups in the coming years.

Despite the communications glitch, after testing out the product, Bloom, Cooper and Jones were impressed. They all offered to serve on Fusar's board of advisors and to help Shearman raise additional capital in return for each getting 2.5 percent equity in the company.

While the investors did not meet Shearman's initial hopes for $750,000 in capital, he happily accepted the offer.

"It's gonna be big," Cooper said. "I know it."

CNBC's "Adventure Capitalists" airs Mondays at 10 p.m. EDT.