We discovered that we weren’t alone, a lot of parents felt that pain and the fear from losing track of a child.

In life, there are three stages of panic.

The first is reserved for things of lesser importance. It’s the panic that grips when you oversleep for an exam, or forget to acknowledge Valentine’s Day, or realize that the only things on the lunch menu are gluten-free. While the panic is real, it’s fleeting — in the end, nothing of substance is ever lost.

The second is reserved for things of upgraded importance, but not the utmost. It’s the panic brought on by watching your team blow a fourth quarter lead in the NFC title game, or forgetting your passport pre-flight, or finding out that Nickleback is still a band. It jars you and can leave devastating emotional scars, but life goes on.

The third and final stage of panic can only be experienced on the rarest of occasions, those times when you are so scared and frightened that you honestly don’t know if you will survive. If you’re a parent who has ever momentarily lost a child in a public setting, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Spencer Behrend, Founder and CEO of KiLife Tech, knows this stage of panic.

“I have five children, two girls first,” Behrend said. “I thought I had parenting figured out, and then we had Kimball. He’s just full of energy…when he was two years old, he disappeared at the Provo Fourth of July parade during a split-second of distraction. It took us a few minutes to find him and we were just terrified. In the aftermath of that, we realized that the energy cost of keeping track of children in public, crowded places is very high and exhausting. And we discovered that we weren’t alone, a lot of parents felt that pain and the fear from losing track of a child.”

Eliminating this feeling of panic and fear became Behrend’s main goal, which in turn led to the creation of the Kiband, a child-tracking, parent-soothing wristband designed to alleviate the worries of moms and dads everywhere.

“You place the band on your child and sync to your smartphone,” Behrend said. “From your smartphone you can set custom perimeters that you’re comfortable with the child exploring. When the child approaches the perimeter, the Kiband vibrates and engages the child in learning proximity, being aware of where Mom and Dad are, and breaks the wandering cycle if they’re fixated on something…If they do go too far, then the band has an audible alarm that can go all the way up to 85 decibels.”

Instead of relying on GPS, the Kiband runs off a localized network specific to the parent’s phone. This means it will work anywhere, at any time, regardless of location. More importantly, the Kiband keeps your child close and a sense of comfort even closer.

Recently, KiLife Tech entered the Rice Business Plan Competition, the world’s richest and largest student startup competition. With nearly $1.5 million in prize money and 275 judges and investors looking on, the competition was the perfect opportunity for KiLife to pitch their idea in front of intelligent minds and see if anything resonated.

“Taking second at the UEC (Utah Entrepreneur Challenge) really motivated us,” Behrend said. “We knew we had a good product, we knew we had a good business, we knew we had a good team. But our goal going down to Rice was, we’re going to pitch this thing the best we can, we’re going to learn as much as we can, work really hard, and we’re just going to network like crazy.”

Remember the third stage of panic we talked about? Think of that feeling, then imagine the exact opposite, and that’s pretty much what the members of KiLife Tech (Behrend, Jeff Hall, Jordan Baczuk, Zack Oates) felt when they emerged as the undisputed winners of the Rice Business Plan Competition and proud recipients of nearly $600,000 in award money.

“We didn’t think we had a very good chance of winning, but we went down intent on working really hard because we knew it would be a big opportunity for us if we won,” Behrend said. “Right at the end, as they were announcing the winner, the judge got up and said, ‘I now have the privilege of making the most obvious announcement in the history of this competition. The winner is KiLife Tech.’ And we were just stunned, it was a shock right up until the end.”

The process of idea validation is tricky. Usually, you come up with an idea, think it’s fantastic, and then realize it’s terrible when everybody starts to make fun of you.

On the few occasions that a genuine, unique idea is created, the feedback from outside sources is overwhelmingly positive and constructive, allowing that idea to achieve full fruition. That is what KiLife Tech experienced from their first place finish.

“You worry sometimes as you’re going through the development process that you’re blinded by your own passion for the product, your own desire to help people,” Behrend said. “It’s nice to have some external validation that says, ‘You’re on the right path, you’ve figured out a way to monetize it, this is a good business, a good model, and a good way to make money.’”

So what does the future hold when you’re $600,000 richer? More beta testing (200 users will be experimenting with the Kiband this summer) and then a planned public launch by Christmas. Investors? They’re coming.

“Since the Rice competition, we’ve been inundated with investment interest from all over the country,” Behrend said.

So instead of spending the holidays chasing your children around Temple Square and wondering why you even went there in the first place, grab a Kiband and enjoy a nice, relaxing ascent into a panic-free life.

Published 4/29/2015