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Adam Sagar

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Adam Sagar understands security. For over fifteen years, Sagar has built safeguards, both physical and technical, for everyone from the Israeli army to Fortune 100 companies. Now he’s bringing his expertise home with security start-up Canary.

In January 2002, after completing his mandatory service with the Israel Defense Forces and graduating from The Hebrew University, Sagar took a marketing position with John Paul Mitchell Systems. He left John Paul Mitchell in late 2002, followed by five years of strategic planning and management consultant positions at Citigroup, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Marsh Risk Consulting. He joined private equity firm The Shearwater Group as a partner in November 2006, remaining with the firm until September 2010. At the same time, he provided security program support as Practice Leader for Security Risk Consulting, traveling across the Americas to Fortune 500 companies until 2012.

Sagar first turned his eye to home security in 2007, when he founded the Community Security Service. The volunteer service, of which he continues to serve as Chairman, has since become the largest volunteer security and neighborhood watch organization in the United States. The inspiration to innovate home security technology, however, arose later. Returning home from vacation one day, Sagar was struck by an awareness that he had no idea what had happened in his home while he was away. The vulnerability of this realization led to a search for home security solutions. Finding only integrated security systems or overly simplistic solutions, Sagar decided to turn his years of security experience towards building his own consumer-focused security product.

Sagar shared his idea with his friend Chris Rill, a robotics and software engineer. Rill had had a similar experience years earlier, except his had ended to him coming home to a note and piece of plywood after the police knocked down the wrong door. Sagar and Rill spent months in a tiny Times Square office, building devices and developing software.

By 2013, the co-founders had a product they felt ready to share with the world. Working with their third co-founder, designer Jon Troutman, they launched an IndieGoGo campaign featuring their ready-to-produce home security product. The campaign raised just under $2 million before closing, above-and-beyond the funding they required for their December 2014 launch. While Canary’s revenue figures remain undisclosed, Sagar has said that their first year saw sales bigger than Fitbit, GoPro, and Dropcam’s first years combined. In 2015, with a year of overwhelmingly positive reception behind them, Canary raised a $30 million funding round from Walden Riverwood Ventures. They continue to improve their product through constant software updates that offer improvements and new app features straight to users’ phones and cameras.

(Sources used in writing this profile include a January 2016 Business Insider article, a November 2013 Blueprint Interview, a February 2016 Reading Eagle Business Weekly piece, an AdoptIdeas.com article, the entrepreneur’s Colle Capital profile, and the entrepreneur’s LinkedIn profile)

Companies and Investments

Canary (Founder, CEO), Community Security Service (Founder, Chairman), Security Risk Consulting (Practice Leader), The Shearwater Group LLC (Partner), Marsh Risk Consulting (Senior Consultant), Booz Allen Hamilton (Senior Management Consultant), Citigroup (Strategic Planning Manager), John Paul Mitchell Systems (Marketing, PR), Israel Defense Forces (Staff Sergeant)

Lessons Learned

I came home once from a vacation and as I approached my house I had this strong feeling of vulnerability — like I had no idea what happened in my physical environment while I was away. I had no idea if it burned down or if it was broken into. I realized as a renter, I didn’t know my neighbors that well and if something happened, I wouldn’t have even known about it because no one would have known how to call me. I was feeling like I needed a simple way to actually get information that’s useful from my environment.

I started looking at what I could buy to solve this problem and was shocked to find that all of the security out there is either integrated—meaning you pay somebody lots of money to put sensors all over your house—or very simplistic, like only having one sensor. Neither of those really solved the problem that I wanted solved. As I started looking at stores like the Apple Store or Best Buy, I realized that they don’t have security products. Some of them did have DIY products, which we don’t consider consumer-focused, and that was the beginning of the epiphany. When I started talking to my friend Chris Rill, who’s now a co-founder, I found that he had had some of the problems and revelations in the past so it was a perfect match for us to come together and build this. (Sagar on creating a product to fulfill a personally-experienced problem, in an interview with The Blueprint)

We brought people on to our team who filled in gaps in expertise that we didn’t have, like industrial design, and then started building from there. Whenever we don’t have a specific expertise, we’re very well aware of it and we bring on the best people we can find in that area rather than trying to learn everything ourselves from scratch. It’s been a great process. (Sagar on being aware of gaps in your knowledge and finding people with the skills you need for your product to succeed, in an interview with The Blueprint)

I think the most important thing that we did in the campaign was to tell a story rather than simply talking about features. I’m not the first person to say that, but some people seem to still not get it. Telling the right story is just as important to the consumer as it is to the media. When you’re talking to media, they’re incredibly busy and they go through a story quickly and then they’re on to the next one. Making sure the message is concise and clear and that there’s a clear and real story around it is important for getting the right coverage. (Sagar on the importance of storytelling to engage consumers, in an interview with The Blueprint)

Inspiring Quotes

Thinking begins only when we have come to know that reason, glorified for centuries, is the stiff-necked adversary of thought.

Martin Heidegger

Adam Sagar's Quotes

We as a company are focused on solving real problems, not invented problems.

Adam Sagar

Telling the right story is just as important to the consumer as it is to the media.

Adam Sagar

Influential Books


Trey Parker