Stun gun phone case startup CTO gives shocking self-defense tips

February 15, 2019


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A stun gun for your phone case that also works as a backup battery? We chat with the CTO of the startup that turns your phone into a self-defense tool.

In some instances, basic self-defense skills do not go far enough. In these situations, it is important to be prepared with the right tools. While traditional options such as pepper spray are good, it does have its drawbacks.

As this veteran mugger states, in order for pepper spray to be effective, you need to be ready with it in your hand. Therefore, fumbling around, searching for it in your bag before an attack is not an option.

Allowing us to turn an everyday item that we always have in our hand, into an effective weapon is Yellow Jacket. The Yellow Jacket is a phone case that functions as a stun gun and backup battery for your phone, ensuring users are protected on all fronts.

The entire concept of the Yellow Jacket is that you always have close at hand a formidable yet discreet defensive tool”

To get a better understanding of what inspired this product, how to use the device and how effective it can be, we reached out to Thom Buck, CTO of Yellow Jacket, and a self-defense expert with over 25 years’ experience.

What inspired you to create this product?

The original product was conceptualized by a retired U.S. Army soldier who was the victim of a home invasion.  At the time of the assault, all he had in his hand was his phone.  This led to the idea of turning your phone into a legitimate defensive device.  Unfortunately, while it was a great concept, the initial execution of the idea (manufacturing-wise) left a lot to be desired.  

Luckily, our current CEO was exposed to a sample unit and recognized the intrinsic value of the concept. He was a highly successful entrepreneur with a background in manufacturing.  He also had a strong desire to help minimize sexual and physical assaults on women.  He had the vision to identify that with needed modifications and upgraded power output capabilities. This product could be a formidable yet discreet self-defense tool that could not just protect your phone but your life as well.

As one of the strongest integrated backup batteries that can be purchased for your mobile phone, it offers great appeal for that feature alone”

I was hired as the Chief Technology Officer to turn his vision for the product into legitimate hardwar ensuring we were not going to produce a novelty device that looked cool but couldn’t protect someone.  I was charged with taking the first-generation Yellow Jacket and advancing it to a legitimate Conducted Energy Device (CED) that generated well over eight microcoulombs of stopping power. Working as a team made up of engineers, industrial designers, self-defense experts as well as expending a lot of effort in field and laboratory testing, we think we have achieved those goals!

Can you explain how one would use the stun gun component of the device?

Sure! First, let me say that the Yellow Jacket Smartphone Stun Gun Case has accidental discharge safeties integrated into the design. This means you can’t accidentally “shock” yourself while carrying it.

stun gun phone case

Having said that, there is a Master Arm Switch located on the side of the case that must be switched on to energize the stun gun in the Yellow Jacket case. A red LED will illuminate on the case indicating the stun gun is energized. However, even after this switch is moved to the “on” position the stun gun will not discharge an electric shock. Carrying the Yellow Jacket in this condition is what we refer to as the “Stand-by” condition.

To actually discharge the stun gun, you must extend the electrodes out of the top of the case.  You do this by moving a “sliding-switch” forward on the back of the case.  When you push this switch all the way forward, it will illuminate indicating that it is in the “Ready,” position. This action can be easily accomplished whether you are right or left handed. Once the electrodes are fully extended, the only step required to activate the discharge is to fully depress the same switch. This will cause the Yellow Jacket to “Fire,” or discharge the stun gun!

As you can see, there are several steps that must be taken to discharge the device.  These steps ensure that the user will not accidentally discharge the stun gun. The obvious question to those who have not seen or used the Yellow Jacket, is, “how can I be expected to accomplish those actions while under duress?” The answer to that is quite simple.

“We always encourage people to study whatever defensive tactics classes they feel are necessary”

When the Yellow Jacket is with you and you are in an inherently safe environment, such as your office, campus classroom or home, you may choose to keep the Master Arm Switch in the off position. However, when you leave those environments (walking on the sidewalk, in a parking garage — virtually anywhere in public) we would suggest you place your Yellow Jacket in “Stand-by” mode.  This means at literally a moment’s notice, all you would have to do to deploy your Yellow Jacket would be to slide the discharge switch forward (using either hand) causing the electrodes to fully extend and depress the same switch/button to “fire” or discharge the stun gun against your assailant!

The entire concept of the Yellow Jacket is that you always have close at hand a formidable yet discreet defensive tool. Now, let me ask your readers a question?  At this very moment, as you read this article, where is your mobile phone? I’ll bet it is close at hand.

Will a Yellow Jacket alone suffice for self-defense, or does one also need to take complementary self-defense lessons?

As someone who has studied martial arts for many years and has been a self-defense instructor and firearms instructor, let me say that we always encourage people to study whatever defensive tactics classes they feel are necessary.  At minimum, by taking a self-defense class you will get in better physical shape (fighting shape) and you will learn to react to a hostile action rather than possibly freezing up.  However, the Yellow Jacket is designed as a stand-alone defensive tool.

What type of self-defense would best complement this tool, and are there any in person or online resources users can use to educate themselves?

Truth be known, most martial arts training requires years of dedicated commitment that can be derailed due to injury, work/family schedules or finances. Ideally, if someone was going to take an intensive self-defense class it should be something that will not require a long-term effort to become proficient enough to effectively defend oneself.  

We have only found one such program that meets that criteria. It is called W.A.S.P. (Women’s Assault Survival Program) taught by KRM-Tactical. It is designed to be a short duration, high-intensity training program that will not require the student to join a dojo or martial arts school and commit to long-term training.  

We are so impressed with KRM-Tactical’s approach to self-defense training that we have contracted with them to be our Yellow Jacket Training Arm! They, in turn, are so impressed with the Yellow Jacket Smartphone Stun Gun Case they have incorporated our device into their W.A.S.P. curriculum! You can find out more about them on their website.

Should a stun gun be used as a first or last resort? In what types of dangerous scenarios would it be appropriate to use the Yellow Jacket and when would it be best not to and run?

stun gun phone case

First, escaping an assault should always be the primary objective. Hence, if you can “run” away from a confrontation — THAT is the best defensive tactic that you can employ.  Hence, the use of any self-defense tool should always be the last resort. However, making a “clean getaway,” is not always possible.

Let’s consider the presumed “basics” of most common physical assaults. First, if you have been “targeted” by a potential assailant, they will most likely choose the timing of their assault.  This means they will in all probability initiate their attack when they can limit your ability to escape.

Hence, they may corner you in an elevator or a stairwell.  They could follow you into a bathroom and press their attack in a bathroom stall. They may time their attack to when you open your car door and shove you into the vehicle piling in on top of you. In short, they will attempt to limit your avenues of escape and your ability to call for help.

“Doctors, nurses, real estate agents, taxi drivers, delivery drivers, soccer moms, students, and even law-enforcement professionals count themselves among our customers”

When I used to actively teach defensive tactics classes, I used to tell my students that if an assailant accosts you demanding your money or belongings, yet they attempt to force you into a more isolated location, this is your cue to launch the fight for your life at that moment! Why? Because if the thug only wants your valuables, they can accomplish their goal where they confronted you.  If they want to further isolate you, they want more than your money and watch.

Eighty-five percent of women are “ambushed” or attacked from behind. The majority of them are alone at the time of the attack. Many times, they are attacked in physical locations they have frequented before so they feel somewhat comfortable in those surroundings. Statistically, if they are carrying a defensive tool (pepper spray, knife, firearm, etc.) in their purse, they never get to it. For a defensive tool to be effective, the first rule of thumb is it must be immediately accessible.

Is the Yellow Jacket effective against more than 1 attacker? Can it work multiple times in quick succession?

Yes, the Yellow Jacket can be used against more than one attacker. Yes, it can be used in quick succession. However, it is important to remember that a Conducted Energy Device (CED) or stun gun is a contact weapon.  This means you must touch the assailant with it. While this may sound foreboding (and it can be) remember that a stun gun is best deployed when the attacker touches you!  

As they grab you from behind (as an example) if your phone is in your hand, so is your Yellow Jacket!  This means you can deploy it against their hands, arms, legs, groin, etc.  Once they have had a heavy dose of microcoulombs discharged against them and they release their grasp on you, you are able to affect your escape.

Remember, what you are trying to do is create enough space between you and the assailant to allow you to make a “clean getaway!” We have Yellow Jacket customers that have relayed that because the loud electrical discharge generated when the stun gun is “dry-fired” in the air is so intimidating, multiple assailants have hesitated in pressing their attack allowing the intended victim to escape!

What type of profile is the hardest to take down with a Yellow Jacket?

stun gun phone case

This is a hard question to answer. There are a lot of variables that have to be considered when you are discussing potential “failures” for a defensive device. Let me first say, there is no perfect defensive tool that will work 100% of the time.  

I have seen where mentally unstable individuals or assailants high on drugs or alcohol have been shot multiple times with large caliber firearms and continued to press their attack until they bled out and succumbed to those injuries.

Is it conceivable that there will be individuals will be minimally affected by a high-microcoulomb stun gun?

Yes. Just as those same individuals may be minimally affected by law-enforcement TASERS, Pepper Spray or impact weapons.

You must do everything possible to survive”

Having said that, it is possible that discharging a stun gun against someone who is wearing several heavy layers of clothing and/or heavy coats may not be penetrated to reach the target’s body. However, it is for reasons such as these we advise our customers to practice what we call “vulnerable re-engagement,” with the Yellow Jacket.

This means that if you apply the stun gun to a target’s gloved hand (as an example) and you do not get the effect you are looking for, immediately re-engage the target searching for more vulnerable locations on their body. This may require sliding the stun gun down to their groin or up to their uncovered face, as an example. Remember, you are likely fighting for your life, this is not the time to be squeamish or merciful. An assailant’s neck, face or even their eyes should be considered targets of opportunity. Your goal as the intended victim is to escape. You did not ask for this assault. You must do everything possible to survive.

What has been the feedback so far?

Honestly, we have been overwhelmed by the positive response we have had from people all over the world! Let’s face it, the world is a dangerous place. There will always be predators who stalk for prey among us. We have parents who have purchased Yellow Jackets for their sons and daughters to have while away at College. We have professionals who have purchased it because it is discreet and can be carried in the boardroom or office without drawing attention to it.

In short doctors, nurses, real estate agents, taxi drivers, delivery drivers, soccer moms, students, and even law-enforcement professionals count themselves among our customers. Believe it or not, we have many people purchase the Yellow Jacket primarily because of the back-up battery feature it offers! As one of the strongest integrated backup batteries’ that can be purchased for your mobile phone, it offers great appeal for that feature alone. After all, if our integrated battery can power our stun gun, why shouldn’t it recharge your phone as well?

Currently Sam, we are in the process of setting up international distributors for our products in numerous foreign countries and we are about to launch a national advertising campaign to formally introduce our product to the public. With multiple new models about to launch (to fit more popular phones), we are confident that our feedback will continue to be positive!

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company


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