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440 Burroughs St
Suite 601
Detroit, MI 48202

Omer Kiyani

Omer Kiyani launched his own with a startup not to make a great fortune or to be his own boss (although achieving both of those things would be desirable) but as an excuse to pursue his passion of enhancing gun safety.

Kiyani's startup, Sentinl, is developing gun-safety technology that secures a loaded weapon while making is accessible for quick use. It has leveraged business development programs at TechTown and made the semifinals of the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition. The startup’s special sauce is the fingerprint technology that allows the gun's owner to unlock the loaded weapon. The startup’s inspiration is Kiyani's childhood experience of being accidentally shot by an unsecured gun.

"Every time I pick up an entrepreneurship book it says to go with your passion," Kiyani says. "If I save one out of 15,000 children injured with a weapon, then it was worth it for me."

Safety has always been important to the 30-something Canton resident. He is a volunteer first responder in his community. He also works as a safety engineer at Bosch. The focus of his automotive career so far: testing and improving airbags.

"It made sense to me," Kiyani says. "This is saving lives. Of all of the automotive engineering sectors, this is the noblest."

Which is why he started Sentinl a year ago. Kiyani, a gun owner, was tired of the gun control debate and how progress on saving lives is too often stunted by sides too entrenched to move. He believes Sentinl is positioned to walk the fine line in that debate because the technology helps make loaded weapons safer while still making them easily accessible to owners in case of emergencies.

That opportunity is why the father of three young children with a busy career as a project manager and an active volunteer in his community, believes he can make the biggest impact on saving lives with his own business. Kiyani could still develop Sentinl's technology with a non-profit or licensing out the technology, but he thinks those routes could mute his technology’s success. Maximizing the impact means commercial success.

"It's not a product I am taking to market," Kiyani says. "It's a concept of quick-access safety. If I do this profitably then there will be other people who follow me."

That's the difference to Kiyani. When people start to sell money in solving a problem then more people begin to pour more resources toward solving it to maximize their market share and profits.

"I will succeed when I start getting competitors," Kiyani says.

- Written by Jon Zemke

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