by Carlos Chicas Berti. Photo: Courtesy of Jack Campbell. Originally published in the Fall 2021 edition of Business Class magazine.
When he started his undergraduate degree at UVic, Jack Campbell already knew he wanted to use his wide range of interests to make a positive impact on society. But like many undergrads, Campbell faced the dilemma of deciding which path to pursue.
After taking a wide range of classes in his first year, Campbell decided to undertake a Bachelor of Arts in Technology and Society, a unique program that allowed him to combine his interest in political science and tech.
Yet, he still felt something was missing from his undergraduate experience. A keen start-up-minded student, Campbell soon stumbled on Gustavson’s business minor program and knew it would be the perfect fit for his career ambitions. Now, a few months away from graduating and with a range of experience under his belt, Campbell knows he made the right choice.
Campbell still recalls feeling frustrated before starting the business minor program; he wanted to create change but was uncertain how to do so. “I didn’t understand business models or accounting, both of which can make you stand out and help make projects happen,” he says. After starting his business minor, Campbell joined the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, an experience that cemented his drive to use his business and tech knowledge to make government resources more available for young people.
Campbell credits the business minor program for giving him a sense of purpose and direction. “It made me think bigger and more strategically,” he affirms. It was that type of thinking that spurred him to take on a new project aiming to help prevent drug overdoses by using tech solutions. “I lost a very close friend a few years ago to an accidental overdose, and since then I’ve been set on trying to come up with micro-solutions to the opioid crisis.”
In 2016, Campbell started work on NaloxSafe, an app to help combat the opioid crisis. In an attempt to find more funding from the provincial and federal governments, he came across Lifeguard, a start-up technology company that was working towards the same goal and had already received government backing. “After looking through the application and seeing the similarities, my business partner and I approached the CEO to see if he would be interested in working together. Initially, we were interested in putting some of our features in his app purely because we believed it would save more lives. After our first meeting, we realized there was an opportunity here to help them reach more young people and recreational users.”
Lifeguard’s core application is the Lifeguard Timer. “The way it works is individuals using drugs can adjust a timer to one, three or five minutes and if they become unresponsive and cannot turn off their alarm, the app assumes the user has overdosed. From there, our technology uses geofencing to track down the exact coordinates of where the phone is located and alerts local health emergency services,” says Campbell. Lifeguard has saved over 45 lives since its inception in early 2020 by sending ambulances to individuals in the midst of an overdose. The application has expanded to include other features, including a “services near me” tab that makes navigating harm reduction, recovery and mental health services straight forward by placing them on a map.
Campbell initially joined the team as a consultant but after impressing Lifeguard CEO Jeff Hardy, he was offered a full-time position. “At first, my job was to help build out Lifeguard’s social infrastructure and engagement. Within the first three months, the internal marketing team and I grew our social media accounts to reach thousands of followers.” From there, his role at the company expanded. “I began sitting in on almost all the major meetings, from software development to sales and financing. The only way I can describe the job description is by analogizing a Swiss army knife—no two days are exactly the same.”
As he prepares for his last semester at UVic, Campbell is thankful for what he learned. “Getting the business minor helped me understand the basics of business, from financial statements to what makes a healthy business grow. The business minor hasn’t changed the direction I want to go; it has just sped up the process,” he adds. “If anything, it has made me think bigger and made me want to do more than when I started.”