Wear Aspirin and Save Lives

Met High School Students Pursuit to Save Lives with Wear Aspirin

hummelIt is a presentation Christian Rijos has given dozens of times over the past year, a pitch from a young entrepreneur with a company and an idea aimed at saving lives.

Christian, a 16-year-old sophomore at The Met School in Providence, is co-owner of a business called Wear Aspirin. Its goal is for people to have aspirin with them and readily available if someone nearby is having a heart attack. Last month he gave his final school presentation — one that has been worked and reworked over the past year — to his fellow students at The Met. But this is an idea Christian wants to sell to the world.

“The key message we’re sending to people is you’re not wearing it for yourself, you’re wearing it to save someone else’s life,” he said, adding that a third of the 1.5 million Americans who have a heart attack this year will die.

“There’s a lot about aspirin that would surprise people,” Christian said. “Every single time I presented, I asked people, ‘Do you have aspirin on you?’ They would always say, ‘No, I have it at my desk, I have it at home,’ and by some chance if they did have it, they’d have it in an inconspicuous place and they probably didn’t know it helps a heart attack victim.”

Nick Kondon, who spent a career starting technology companies, is one of Christian’s mentors and now his business partner. Wear Aspirin is an idea he had been kicking around for years. As a volunteer at The Met, Nick spotted a then-15-year-old who was intelligent and savvy beyond his years. Nick recalls one of their first conversations. “I was thinking you’d be my partner and you’d own about 7% of the company. And Christian, without any pause, said to me, ‘I’m young, but I’m not stupid.'”

Before the partnership was struck, Nick gave Christian an assignment. Christian recalled the conversation: “I want a small container that can hold .4175 inches of a pill and it has to be small enough to be discreet, but big enough to be noticeable so people ask about it. And it has to hold one pill and it has to be configured to fit in five different places.”

Early prototypes included a wristwatch attachment, a magnet and a ring, all of which were eventually discarded. After some trial and error they arrived on five different Wear Aspirin containers: a key ring, a cell phone, a hat, a lapel pin and a charm attachment for a bracelet.

“Easy to get to,” Christian said. “If somebody’s having a heart attack, you pop it out, you administer it to them, you tell them to chew it, then they swallow. The stats show that if you administer a 325 mg aspirin to a victim, it reduces 80% of the platelets heading to the clot in the blood stream and increases their chances of surviving by 30%.’’

That’s the medical part, but at the end of the day this is a business, which is what students in the E Ventures class discover. Christian and other students at The Met’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship are learning that a good idea also needs a good business plan.

The proposed retail price for all five, including aspirin: $17.95.

Over the past year he has enlisted the help of a variety of people and earlier this spring decided to try crowdfunding for the initial startup costs on the website Indiegogo.

“The plan was to go on a crowdfunding site and raise enough capital for us to make this in the US and market it in Rhode Island, so that it starts as a Rhode Island company. Then we branch out into the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association and national organizations and start programs with them,” Christian said. “Right now, we think our demographics are women over the age of 40 — because if a woman buys this she’s buying it for her husband, kids, friends and family.’’

And that may be why going the crowdfunding route for seed money has not produced the results they had originally hoped for. So they’re going to revise the plan, as partners often have to do in any business.
Christian says while operating a successful company that makes money is an incentive to succeed, there is another side to his motivation.

“It became personal with me a long time ago. My mother told me that most people in my family die from heart attacks; it’s in our genes. Genes affect just a small percentage of the chances you’ll have a heart attack. It’s also eating habits and things like that. But my chances of having a small heart attack one day have increased because of my genes from both sides of my family, so it’s become personal.’’

If you want to see the video version of this story go to RhodeIslandSpotlight.org. If you know of a person or organization who you think deserves the Spotlight, send an email to jim@RhodeIslandSpotlight.org

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