The Future Is Now: “Imagine not having to wait in line at a pharmacy or grocery store” With Rebecca Romanucci Founder and CEO of DynoSafe and Fotis Georgiadis
DynoSafe’s innovative technology allows, for the first time, people to also order perishable items like medication, produce, electronics, flowers, prepared food from restaurants, and more, in a temperature-controlled environment. Imagine not having to wait in line at a pharmacy or grocery store. Most importantly, imagine the independence provided to those who are home bound, unable to drive, and dependent on someone else to get their groceries and medication. They will now be able to order what they want and need, when they want it and simply receive an alert on their phone that the order has arrived.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Rebecca Romanucci. Rebecca Romanucci is founder and chief executive officer for DynoSafe. Her career as a registered nurse spans nearly two decades during which time she also served as an accomplished entrepreneur of a few successful businesses. Rebecca has received several accolades for her business achievements and contributions to the community.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I grew up with a father who encouraged me to be investigative questioning “how” and “why” things work the way they do. While my compassionate disposition led me to nursing, it also exposed the inefficiencies and inadequacies in the medical treatment of patients and was determined to make an impact.
For a few years, I worked in the home health industry as a registered nurse. During this time, I witnessed the decline in patients related to loss of their independence such as driving, grocery shopping, picking up their medication from the pharmacy, going to the post office, and even going out to eat. Being completely dependent upon others for the smallest of tasks can make a person helpless, feel like they’re a burden to others, and lose their ability to thrive. Many elderly patients or those who were homebound had been moved to nursing homes and extended care facilities simply because they needed assistance with these tasks.
Situations such as those I mentioned made a profound impact on me. Witnessing them fueled in me the drive I needed to provide for them some level of independence — any way I was able.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Earlier this year, I attended a three-day conference focused on e-commerce. I spent the first day listening to a number of speakers, networking, learning from the attendees, and sharing my ideas with them. On the second day, executives from major corporations were looking for me to learn more about DynoSafe. People were literally pulling me aside and asking me to wait while they located others who wanted to speak with me. I drew a crowd, at times, with those conference attendees who wanted waned to learn more about DynoSafe and when it would be available.
It was during this time that I realized there was and is a tremendous need to solve the ‘billion-dollar, final mile’ delivery problem.
Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
DynoSafe is a smart, temperature-controlled, bench/container which secures to your porch and is designed to store multiple home or office-delivered packages, protecting them from theft and heat, rain, ice, snow, and wind. The easy to use app provides a one-time use delivery code which the customer names (groceries, medication, shoes, electronics, etc.) and assigns a temperature setting for that order number. Then, they input the four-digit code on the instruction section of their order form. The delivery person proceeds to input the code, unlocks DynoSafe, and places the delivery inside. Afterward, the temperature automatically adjusts to the assigned delivery setting and the lid closes and automatically locks. The customer receives an alert on his/her phone for the (named) delivery including arrival date, time, and internal temperature.
With DynoSafe, customers no longer need to take off from work or rearrange their schedules to sign for or receive deliveries and perishable items can be delivered, secured and maintained at the right temperature. Currently, many people only order non-perishable items online and are concerned about theft from porch pirates as well as damage from weather conditions. DynoSafe’s innovative technology allows, for the first time, people to also order perishable items like medication, produce, electronics, flowers, prepared food from restaurants, and more, in a temperature-controlled environment. Imagine not having to wait in line at a pharmacy or grocery store. Most importantly, imagine the independence provided to those who are home bound, unable to drive, and dependent on someone else to get their groceries and medication. They will now be able to order what they want and need, when they want it and simply receive an alert on their phone that the order has arrived. They do not have to try to maneuver to the door before the delivery person has placed a “sorry we missed you” sticker on the door or open it for a stranger.
How do you think this might change the world?
By changing the way people shop while providing flexibility, convenience, and cost savings all while making a tremendous impact on our environment. People will no longer be required to adjust their schedules around deliveries. By simply ordering what they want, when they want it, they can have peace of mind that their orders will be protected from theft and environmental conditions while being maintained at the proper temperature. It will provide seniors and those who are home bound with the freedom to manage their own needs independently and with confidence.
Brick and mortar will become places to share an experience. Imagine a world where you place your order before you go to bed at night, and when you get up in the morning, your groceries are safe, secure, and at the right temperature on your front door step. This would lead to decreases in waste by reducing fuel usage and excessive packing material and gel packs. There would also be a decline in individual customer vehicles on the road going back and forth to brick and mortar stores.
Currently, deliveries are maintained by customer-driven delivery windows (when they will be home), but with DynoSafe, they can be made by routes that are the most fuel and time efficient. Deliveries could be made during off-peak traffic hours. For instance, place a grocery order by midnight, the items can be gathered while the store has fewer customers, and can be delivered before 6 a.m. when traffic begins to pick up. Then, wake up to an alert on the phone that the groceries have been delivered — all before making the morning cup of coffee.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
This is giant step in the right direction. It would bring about a major shift in the economy by disrupting the current retail model. Some of the jobs that were previously filled by sales people and retail store management could be streamlined and replaced by a focus to online sales development, order picking, packing, and delivering. There will be increased creativity and focus on online marketing, product placement, and product pairing. There will also be new opportunities for small business as they compete with large companies for product placement in new, creative ways.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
In one of my previous businesses, I had a client who had ordered $500 of product from me which I mailed to her, only to have her notify me that she never received it. I pulled another $500 of product off my shelf and mailed that to her too, this time requiring a signature upon delivery. She was not happy that she had to take off from work to be home to sign for the items. A few weeks after that, a gentleman called one of my employees and returned the items for a full refund. Obviously, these were the stolen items. I was out one-thousand dollars for a $500 order, and had an unhappy customer. It was from that personal experience that I realized how the theft from porch pirates was hurting businesses.
There are many times in my life that I have witnessed the humbling dependency upon others for basic needs. Not only with my patients, but also as members of my own family become older, less comfortable with driving, and more difficulty with walking through grocery store aisles or pharmacy lines. My friend, who is a diabetic, receives her insulin through the mail. Even in Arizona, at times the insulin will be left on the porch, unrefrigerated, and other times she’s unable able to answer the door to receive the delivery, before they placed a ‘missed you’ sticker on the door and are driving away with her insulin. As a result, she had to ask for assistance from friends to take off from work to take her to pick up her medication.
There had to be a way to fix this!
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
Greater exposure for DynoSafe. Seventy-nine percent of U.S. consumers shop online, up from just 22% back in 2000. According to TechCrunch, mobile shopping, the fastest growing segment in e-commerce is worth $3.2 trillion in 2017, a jump of over $1.5 trillion just four prior. And, ReadyCloud estimates almost half of U.S. consumers do some or all of their grocery shopping online and almost 60% plan to do so in 2019. Online grocery sales are set to quadruple by 2023.
Consumers are holding retailers and delivery companies responsible for undelivered, lost, stolen, damaged deliveries. Businesses lose billions of dollars each year from lost/stolen/damaged packages, pulling more products off their shelves and replacing them, many of which are free of charge. According to reports, despite the intense growth projected for ecommerce and delivery shopping, there remain major hurdles. A survey of major logistic providers indicates that 20 percent state their biggest problems with last-mile fulfillment are missed deliveries and end customer interactions. Awareness of the solution, DynoSafe, is what is needed for widespread adoption.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
We have created a number of short videos about DynoSafe which we are releasing over social media in an attempt to increase awareness. They are edgy pieces, which we hope will go viral once we release them in the right media format. We have attended a number of conferences in the e-commerce market. We are currently testing and hope to present the results in creative ways.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My father took the time to encourage curiosity. Every day held new experiences for us to discover. He never enabled me, and still does not to this day, which has provided me with the belief that each of us possesses the ability to ask questions, problem solve and discover solutions. He has been a consistent force behind me to see the world as having endless discoveries.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I have created solutions to assist those who are homebound, or dependent upon others for their basic needs, including everyday tasks such as going to the store to purchase food, groceries, or medication.
Also, DynoSafe allows you to order items for others. For example, I can order my parents groceries to be delivered to their container, or surprise them with takeout dinner delivered to their home. They receive an alert that they have a delivery and can retrieve it at their convenience.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. T.V. shows like Shark Tank are encouraging people to become entrepreneurs and chase their dream. I have had so many people ask me if I am going to take DynoSafe to Shark Tank, as if that is my final destination. I wish there was a TV show which educates people of the enormous struggles to get to the point of reaching out to venture capitalists. For many, it appears that you can simply have a good idea and go to Shark Tank or another VC and they will pay you millions of dollars for your concept.
2. Just because someone tells you an idea sounds brilliant, does not make it a viable, investible business. Having a patentable idea does not mean it will make a profit or that someone will pay you handsomely for it either. After I was issued a patent, I believed national retailers would be interested in purchasing my idea. I called and emailed corporate executives thinking I would receive responses. In retrospect, I am glad I didn’t hear back from any of them, as it would have derailed my progress and mission.
3. The further you get in the process, the more valuable you become. Receiving offers early on, either by investors or opportunities to license or to be acquired has little value as a start-up. Each step taken toward manufacturing and bringing the product to market increases the value exponentially. I am in this for the long haul. I have learned to believe in not only the concept of DynoSafe, but now I believe in the power of DynoSafe to disrupt the entire e-commerce industry.
4. Don’t share details. No matter how well you know or trust people. Have them sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), and then, limit the amount of information shared. I had to learn that when I shared my idea with people, they became excited and wanted to know more, and had questions and their own ideas and suggestions. Some of these people wanted to quit other projects they were working on to be a part of this fantastic idea and plan. I had to learn to minimize conversations and keep things confidential.
5. You quickly need a significant and consistent amount of cash flow. I had a mentor early on who insisted that I start pitching my friends and family for money, seeking investors, and apply for loans as soon as possible. Being self-funded instilled a clear sense of accountability and monetary responsibility. I researched, conducted interviewed, compared options and made decisions based upon my findings carefully because funds were limited with this being a self-funded endeavor. Had I received early investments from others, it may have come with advice, opinions and motivations which could have created costly mistakes, wasted precious time, and altered our focus.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It would be one of independence and self-reliance. We need to be aware of what we are capable of achieving and not be solely dependent upon others for our needs and happiness. DynoSafe provides each of us the ability to get what we want (can afford) when we want it, and not be dependent upon someone else to do those things for us. Having health issues, the inability to drive, or go to the store, should not make a person dependent upon another. Being independent provides a sense of well-being, confidence, independence and self-reliance. Oftentimes, Veterans return from war unable to drive or unable to be in crowds because of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They can become depressed and some even commit suicide. Lack of independence because of the reliance on others for their daily needs is one of the situations which can contribute to their feelings of depression. I would like to start a movement to encourage people to be independent, self-reliant, confident and kind to others.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Short cuts make long delays. J.R.R. Tolkien
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards. Vernon Saunders Law
Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
We have been fortunate to remain self-funded, but as preparations are underway to go to production, capital is needed. DynoSafe will be a tremendous addition to a portfolio of someone who is already vested in the ‘final-mile delivery’ solution. I also believe that it is important to form a partnership with an experienced, national retailer.
There are many successful venture capitalist who recognize this fast growing, lucrative, $2 trillion e-commerce market. Whoever wins this online battle will go a long way toward shaping the face of e-commerce in the next decade.
DynoSafe is a smart, temperature controlled, attractive, bench/safe which secures to the porch and protects your deliveries from theft and from adverse weather conditions. With DynoSafe, not only will your regular online orders be secure from the theft of porch pirates, but because it is climate controlled, perishable items such as produce, medication, flowers electronics and prepared food will be protected. And, you will no longer need to take time off work or rearrange your schedule in order to be home to receive or sign for your online deliveries.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
The Future Is Now: “Imagine not having to wait in line at a pharmacy or grocery store” With… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.