BY DELANEY APPEL
As students, safety on and around campus is always a concern. Sometimes you have to walk home alone late at night from the library or from a friend’s place. Taking an Uber everywhere can become expensive, and can even come with its own risks and dangers. Angela Rucci, a former Computer Science and Engineering student at Ohio State, knew this feeling too well, and decided to do something about the way we communicate safety with our friends and family. That’s why she launched the app Tego in March of 2019.
“Tego is an app that lets you know when your friends get home safely. We do this all the time, like ‘Hey! Text me when you get home!’ and then you forget to update your friends or parents,” Rucci told me. “We kind of wanted to create an app to give people peace of mind.”
Rucci was inspired to create the app after the cause became even more personal to her. She was assaulted her first semester at Ohio State.
“I didn’t have many friends at first, and then that happened…I was so close to going back to Youngstown,” she admitted. “But once I started to make friends, I became the mom of my friend group, always making sure my friends got home safely, so that nothing like what happened to me would happen to them. That’s kind of when I thought of Tego.”
Rucci also mentioned that apps such as Find My Friends can often be inaccurate and an invasion of privacy, as one of the only options is to share your location indefinitely.
“If I just met you, or we only hung out once or twice, I don’t think you would be comfortable sharing your location with me all the time. So with Tego, it’s really just that one trip. You have a lot of control over who you share your trip with.”
The app has features such as the ability to call 911 from within the app, GPS location, and sharing your phone battery percentage. In other words, all the information necessary to send to the authorities to assist you. You can choose up to 10 contacts to which you can send your trip, and the app will notify them when you have arrived safely at your destination, or if you are in need of help.
“I didn’t start coding until college, which is super rare,” said Rucci. “I felt super behind. Every weekend I would go home and do these personal projects like making a website, making an app…eventually I caught up.”
Rucci and her partner were awarded first place for the app at the Ohio State hackathon in 2018.
“A lot of the judges were women, and they thought it would be so helpful. We won the hackathon, and pretty much the next day started the business.”
Although women are becoming more involved in the field of coding and computer science, it is still an overwhelmingly male-driven field. Rucci mentioned that she was typically one of the only girls in her classes, especially during her time at Youngstown State before transferring to OSU.
When I asked about her experience in the field as a student, and now as part of a larger business community, Rucci said, “Something that hurt the most [was that] I was definitely a student that did even more outside of the classroom than inside. I was getting a lot of internship offers, and I thought it was because I was doing a lot. But a fellow student said, ‘Oh, no. It’s because you’re a girl.’ It made me feel really insecure that people thought I got what I got because I was a girl. I feel like I’m a good developer. As far as the business, it has been hard to prove to people that this isn’t just a college project.”
As for the future of Tego, Rucci said, “I want people to feel like they can go and walk home or be a better friend. We really think that friends can help save friends’ lives.”
On November 1, Tego is launching their new gifting model.
“We found that giving safety feels great. My co-founder actually gives safety items to his sister every Christmas. So we’re launching a subscription box you can get through Tego, it’s really cute. You get scrunchies and a shirt! It’s a really cute Christmas gift for your loved ones, saying you care about them.”
If you are also the mom of your friend group, or if your actual mom is always worrying about you, Tego really could give you some peace of mind knowing you and your loved ones are safe.
You can find Tego for free in the App Store, so there’s nothing stopping you from being a little safer! Follow them for updates on Instagram and Twitter @tegoandgo.