Interview with Artem Kozel, CEO of GeoZilla

Josiah Motley · July 11, 2019 · Short URL:

A look into the family safety platform, how it was started, and tips for other entrepreneurs

The app space is a crowded one, but if you can wade through the countless games and company apps that no one ever uses, you'll find that some apps definitely have a place on your phone.

With so much of the tech news these days surrounding issues regarding privacy and data, having an app that keeps track of your location and the location of your loved ones can seem a bit intimidating, but if you have an active family, the peace of mind that comes with knowing where your family is can definitely be worth it.

GeoZilla is one such app. Using GPS, users can see where family members are, get alerts when they arrive or leave certain locations, and more. The service will also pair with the Apple Watch for location services, as well as an upcoming feature that helps you keep track of an older loved one to monitor their heart rate.

I had the chance to speak with Artem Kozel, CEO of the company to learn more about the inspiration behind the company, hardships the team has faced, and more. Check out the full interview below.

Care to introduce yourself and your role with GeoZilla?

Hi, my name is Artem and I am CEO of GeoZilla. Originally I am from Belarus, residing in Palo Alto, California. Our team is international – part of it is located in Ukraine, part in the U.S.

We also have people working with us from Europe and China. I’ve worked in IT for over a decade bringing multiple products to life leading a global software development company.

In just a few sentences, what is GeoZilla?

GeoZilla is a mobile app that offers peace of mind to families by connecting you with your loved ones on a map. Once you add your family to the map we offer you to receive notifications, as they arrive at assigned places, like home, office or school.

If you activate your family’s schedule tracking, GeoZilla will monitor if they are following it and alert you, say, if your child doesn’t arrive at school on time.

Finally, we will notify you if your family members are driving safely. This feature encourages safer driving, detecting not only speeding but also distracted driving patterns. In case of emergency, GeoZilla will send an alert with the car’s exact whereabouts. 

What was the inspiration behind the creation of the app?

It all started back in 2015, when very few people knew about the capabilities of the inbuilt GPS on their phones and the only option to make sure a loved one was ok, was to call and ask ‘Where are you?’.

We brought together a strong technical team, that was capable of designing a location sharing solution that was sustainable and battery friendly. Back then we were a small team who understood the pain of not knowing where your loved one is and had a vision on how to design a simple yet powerful safety app.

What type of hardships did you and your team encounter during the early days of GeoZilla?

Building a startup is always a roller coaster. Doing so from outside the U.S. is times harder. We were separated from others and in the early days, this meant scaling our team, not to mention marketing our app was hard.

With that being said, we were incredibly lucky to have a strong yet humble core team that wanted to build a product that would make location sharing free for everyone. Part of the reason why scaling was hard, as we were working to build the right premium offering that would benefit our users.

Till this day we keep location sharing free for all and monetize through features with additional value to our apps’ users.

Privacy is a hot-button topic right now, so what is GeoZilla doing to make sure user data is protected?

As a leading private social network for families, with a focus on safety, security and peace of mind for loved ones, data privacy is at the core of everything we do.

Therefore GeoZilla adopts the concept of privacy by design, where all elements of our product are architected, built and tested in a way that ensures any data leakage risk is minimized to an absolute minimum.

Our company's policy is to never monetize or share our customers data with any third party, unless strictly as part of providing a leading product to our customers, and if ever a third-party service is used, we ensure our customers are protected both contractually and through data anonymization techniques, that never allow any of our partners to re-identify a customer.

At GeoZilla, we maintain the latest security practices when it comes to data storage and transfer, and have regular reviews, with scheduled independent penetration testing.

What separates your service from others that offer similar tracking/monitoring?

We are working to make the app smart so that you don’t have to think about which place to add, what’s your family’s regular schedule, or route. Thus, the app will identify your family’s daily routines and notify you if something doesn’t seem right.

Also as a separate layer of safety, we are adding industry-leading devices to the platform. If your child wears an Apple Watch, you can add it to GeoZilla then on your map. More great safety solutions will become available in GeoZilla soon. 

Any tips for other entrepreneurs who are getting into app development?

I think you’ve already heard this a thousand times at least: build your product to solve the user’s problem fast. This means spending extra hours studying your users, AB testing and optimizing the onboarding flow.

For GeoZilla this means having the app monitor user’s safety-related patterns and guess their needs without them having to figure things out for themselves. 

Anything new or exciting happening with the app in the coming months?

There’s a lot of work done right now to help the app monitor safety of younger kids and the elderly. Our children and our parents depend heavily on us and I feel like their safety and wellbeing is not getting the attention they require.

Fall detection, heart rate monitor and low movement alerts are just a few things that we plan to release in the coming year. I believe in the peace of mind this kind of information can bring my own family. 

Thanks for taking the time to answer some of my questions, would you like to add anything before we end it here?

I would like to thank you for the interview and the reader for sticking through to the very end. This is a fair sign your startup is going to make it! I’m only half-kidding here, as persistence is key to succeeding in anything.

So keep going, iterating and improving your product. Take time to AB test your product's user flow and purchase funnel. Finally, invest your personal time and effort in BI to make sure your business is sustainable and you are reaching your startup’s goals.

I'd like to thank Artem for taking the time to answer some of my questions. Learn more about the service here.

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Josiah Motley

Contributor at various blogs, with a focus on tech, apps, gadgets, and gaming.

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