116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Gabriel Glynn’s latest venture draws upon his childhood experiences in Cedar Rapids.
“My father was a safety manager,” Glynn recalled. “He worked third shift at Goss with a lot of folks, building printing presses.”
Brian Glynn left Goss after the company filed for bankruptcy in 1999 and earned a degree in industrial safety at Kirkwood Community College, then worked at Nordstrom’s Cedar Rapids distribution center until retiring in 2020.
“I’m just realizing the weight of the responsibility he had, making sure the 1,000 people in that facility made it home safely to their families at the end of the day,” Glynn said.
Glynn, 39, didn’t set out on a career in workplace safety. After graduating from Jefferson High School and studying at the University of Northern Iowa, he worked on start-up tech projects.
But Glynn’s experiences led him to become co-founder and CEO of MakuSafe. Launched in 2020, the company combines employee-wearable sensors with analytic software to identify and mitigate workplace hazards.
He’ll recount his start-up experience Feb. 16 in his Founder Fireside talk, part of 1 Million Cups, at the Olympic South Side Theater in the New Bohemia District of Cedar Rapids.
MakuSafe and its complimentary MakuSmart analytics package enable users to identify hazards and prevent incidents — a significant improvement over the traditional reactive approach, Glynn said.
“When something bad happens, figure out why it happened and don’t have it happen again, that’s the worst result,” he said. “If we can add getting to that clue, let’s get more pro-active.
“ … I know the best way to do that was with data.”
The system collects that data through sensors placed around a plant or work site. The sensors worn by workers track their movement, enabling users to spot potential hazardous conditions before they cause an accident or illness.
“Sometimes when these things combine, that can lead to a heightened level of risk,” Glynn said. “Temperature plus high humidity plus high carbon dioxide can lead to higher levels of fatigue, for example.
“We know which worker is wearing that device, we know exactly what that worker is exposed to.”
Early customers are seeing more than a 50 percent decrease in workplace accidents, Glynn said.
“We’re learning about what different types of factors could be accelerating that risk,” he said. “We have all this rich data we can look at to know what that worker experienced, what was going on. That’s remarkable.”
MakuSafe works with customers to analyze and make use of the tracking data.
“We’re using A.I. to look at trends ,” Glynn said. “Is this group of workers at more risk than before? We can give them a pretty good list of things they can go look at.”
The start-up isn’t immune from unexpected circumstances. Glynn said its roll-out event had been scheduled for April 2020, weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down workplaces.
MakuSafe overcame that early setback, in part thanks to its Iowa investors. Glynn said more than 90 percent of the company’s $15 million start-up budget came from within the state.
What: Gabe Glynn, CEO of MakuSafe, will talk with Eric Engelmann, ISA Ventures’s general partner, about his company’s challenges, successes and plans, in this month’s Fireside Founder series.
When: Wednesday, Feb. 16. Doors will open at 8:30 a.m. for coffee and networking; programming will begin at 9 a.m.
Where: Olympic South Side Theater, 1202 Third St. SE, second floor, Cedar Rapids