It was the first time Ryan Shearman had ever been truly scared for his life: Half-conscious, he woke up on the side of the West Side Highway in New York City on a fall morning in 2012. He had been hit by a car, and this time it was bad. Shearman waited more than an hour for an ambulance to arrive — a delay Shearman said was caused by heavy traffic and incorrect directions from the driver who hit him.
"There's a saying in the motorcycle world, "It's not if, but when,'" said Shearman, who escaped the crash with a concussion and a hip contusion.
He decided to make something out of the scary experience, so he created a technology hardware company called Fusar, which designs products to make action sports more fun and safer.
To date, the company has raised $2.3 million in funding. Its products include an app, headset, camera and handlebar remote designed to capture and share audio and video footage, track and share location in the event of an accident and make emergency calls.
"It was my father who actually said, 'You're the guy who built an electric motorcycle in our garage in a handful of days. Build something. Get back on the bike and build something to make you feel more comfortable if that's what it's going to take,'" the 29-year-old Shearman said.
Before co-founding Fusar in 2013, Shearman designed high-end jewelry for men, making unique products out of materials such as carbon fiber and meteorite for David Yurman.
He took his design skills and applied it to his new passion — making action sports safer.
Fusar's flagship product is a camera device that, upon impact, saves the last two minutes of audio and video recording and sends preloaded emergency contacts an alert along with the user's GPS coordinates and nearby EMS dispatcher phone numbers. The system is an HD-video, navigation system, black box and communication system wrapped into one.
"I realized that we lived in a world of connected devices," Shearman said. "And it made no sense to me as to why a smart helmet, in some implementation, did not exist."
Shearman and co-founders Clayton Patton and Todd Rushing have also created an app that's best described as a mix between a remote-controlled camera, OnStar and a cloud-based Bluetooth device, as well as a handlebar remote control that runs the app. Fusar's products will be publicly available between the end of June and mid-September.
"In the truest sense, I don't believe we have a direct competitor," he said. "I believe we are competing with existing industries and really combining the features provided by different products in a unique manner, very similar to how the smartphone eliminated the need for digital camera in one pocket and an MP3 player in the other pocket and a flip phone."
All of the prototyping has been done in house — literally. Fusar's 11 full-time employees work with 3-D printers, circuit boards and large computer screens in a house in Jersey City, New Jersey. Until recently, Shearman not only worked there, he lived there.
"[I'm] transitioning from someone who is an enthusiast, a hobbyist who loves to engage in these activities to someone who works in the action sports environment — in that space really requires faith in yourself, in your capabilities," Shearman said.