Previously published to Benzinga.
The following post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga.
Labeled a must-buy for 2021, Wrap Technologies (NASDAQ: WRAP) was labeled a top innovation stock at the Benzinga Global Small Cap Conference in May. This startup has been quickly expanding, gaining momentum both here and overseas.
As of this article, there have been 254 mass shootings in 2021 and 559 officer-involved events (27 officers killed, 148 injured with 408 suspects, either killed or injured in the line of fire). From these incidents, we have seen a fair share of civil unrest and communities pleading with law enforcement to change their policies regarding the killing of unarmed men, women and children — regardless of the situation around the U.S.
Given this highly charged state of affairs, one company has set out to be the solution — and it might just be onto something.
Like Batman but Without a Cape
Wrap Technologies breathed life into a concept we’ve only ever seen in superhero movies — with suspects brought to justice without the use of deadly force. On the screen, we’ve seen Batman nab the bad guys with a gun and hogties them with a rope.
The BolaWrap is a similar concept, only this time, an 8-foot Kevlar rope is fired as far away as 25 feet from the suspect at 513 feet per second. To activate, police aim-wrap guns at the feet of perpetrators and will wrap all the way up their bodies — making them unable to shoot, stab or run away from police officers.
Although it’s not actually a gun, the device is currently classified by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as a firearm in the “other weapons” category because it uses a half-charged 380 and gunpowder for speed (think starter pistols used in sporting events). The device itself is handheld and the size of a cell phone.
Policing Safer for Both Law Enforcement and the Public
BolaWrap acts like remote handcuffs, safely, securely and humanely restraining suspects on-site. Officers can apprehend their subjects at a distance without relying on painful compliance tools, which is useful during mental health emergencies, armed attacks and even hostage situations.
The BolaWrap may just be one tool on an officer’s belt, but through regular training, using a BolaWrap — as opposed to a deadly weapon — can become second nature and lead to fewer fatalities.
Wrap’s Proprietary Training Simulators Make a Difference
According to Tom Smith, CEO and president of Wrap Technologies and co-founder of the world-renowned Taser, “There’s never been more pressure on law enforcement than there is today to change the way they’re doing business. And, this is the only tool out there that doesn’t hurt them.”
In addition to being an effective tool when taking suspects into custody, regular diversity training provides officers with improved mental preparedness to make split-second decisions. Through simulated training and immersive virtual reality (VR) experiences, officers will develop the habit of grabbing for a non-violent weapon, as opposed to the most deadly of options.
During times of high anxiety, fight or flight can take over. Officers have been known to reach for their guns and, at the point of de-escalation, fire, ultimately causing the unwarranted deaths of thousands of unarmed men, women and children around the country.
WRAP Reality is a cutting-edge technology that uses VR in the training of military, security and law enforcement professionals. Users are fully immersed in a VR, 3D environment and exposed to a wide spectrum of conflicts and scenarios that have been known to trigger the human psyche.
Each of 36 modules has been designed by police training experts, introducing concepts related to de-escalation, conflict resolutions, proper procedures and the line of force. Officers learn how to react when faced with multiple stressors, developing the skills they need to resolve conflicts with as few negative consequences as possible.
WRAP training experts have implemented 360-degree threat factors to enhance situational awareness, reminding officers that danger will come from all directions and reinforcing the idea that officers should not react quickly — rather, they should think quickly to retake control.
VR devices are easily transported, and training can be completed in less than one hour. Each session addresses ways to halt confrontation long before it escalates, teaching officers how to avoid brute force by using verbal skills and intervention. This platform also addresses the use of firearms, batons and tasers — not just the BolaWrap — within its universe.
Wrap Technologies seeks to reform training programs for law enforcement, creating specialized programs for the training of everyone from cadet to seasoned officer. Using the VR simulator, officers won’t just show up to an academy once a year and expect to see mastery. This product can be used regularly, continually upgraded and given new platforms based on the subscription model. Individual progress and training data can be stored over time, gamifying the training process for better decision-making in real time.
Garnering Control with a less Invasive Tool
The future of compliance is to reduce its pain.
When traveling internationally with Taser, Smith was often asked by enforcement agencies for a product like BolaWrap. And, now it’s here.
De-escalating encounters means so much more than providing a safety net for suspects and their victims. Let’s face it, some potential perpetrators are innocent and criminals should not be harmed during the justice process. This tool provides safety ensuring that everyone receives due process for probable crimes.
Eric Baskind, a violence reduction specialist, explains that “the longer it takes officers to bring the subject under control the greater is the risk of harm, including death. Tactics to minimize this initial struggle should be encouraged.”
In a sense, BolaWrap can reduce negative litigation, minimize risks and restore certainty by establishing a new sense of trust between the community and law enforcement.
Why Should you Invest?
In addition to its uses in law enforcement, Wrap Technologies’s vision for the future expands into other areas. The company sees a future opportunity in defending our schools, federal buildings and offices from the threats that lurk among them. For example, arming teachers with the BolaWrap would mean keeping classrooms protected without placing an actual gun inside the classroom. There are over 4,900,000 elementary, secondary and post-secondary school teachers in the U.S. Additionally, 20,000,000 private security workers worldwide could offer protection to their clients while reducing the chance of additional violence, injury or death.
Currently, 18,000 police agencies in the U.S. are without this solution, and the total global addressable market is estimated at over 110,000,000.
Wrap is investing heavily into research and development (R&D). In fact, production capacity was increased in Q4 2020 as a result of efficiency improvement efforts and a full reconfiguration of the Tempe-based manufacturing facility in Arizona.
The company is gathering feedback from users and improving its product from those findings. The product is already easy to use. However, the company wishes to make it even more simple to reduce potential negative outcomes during intense situations.
To date, Wrap reports over 50 documented uses. It is likely that the BolaWrap has been used far more times, however, since its use is not necessarily reportable in law enforcement records. Police departments classify the BolaWrap as a non-force tool.
“The BolaWrap is making a difference. It’s saving lives. And, it’s being adopted at a much quicker rate than one would have expected,” said Smith.
There are currently 14 distributors spread across all 50 states. The total includes over 100 distribution partners who also serve as contact points within key regions. More than 1,960 officers have been trained, are currently testing and/or carry this product at over 475 agencies across the U.S. Internationally, 38 different distributors spread across 40 different countries carry the BolaWrap, although 66 companies have secured export licenses.
Smith looks forward to a profitable future with the BolaWrap, “It took us 15 years to establish Taser in the law enforcement space. This company has been able to do it in less than one year,” he says. “This is a very new product and company, a great opportunity and early investment for those interested in solving real-world problems with technology.”
The global non-lethal weapons market was valued at $6.32 billion in 2018 but is projected to reach $11.85 billion by 2023. There are approximately 900,000 police officers in the United States and 1,235,974 worldwide. There are also 75,000,000 military personnel based around the globe.
The BolaWrap is being used in cities like:
- Los Angeles
- West Palm Beach
- Fort Worth
Police chiefs nationwide express interest in the BolaWrap. “This is the first thing that we’ve ever been able to add to our arsenal — other than verbal commands — that isn’t supposed to hurt anybody. The way we see it, this isn’t a use of force. This is an apprehension tool,” states Fruitland, Maryland Police Chief Brian Swafford.
He continues, “I don’t see how anybody could say that having a device like this isn’t worthwhile — that it isn’t worth the money. How many times does something like that have to be effective for it to pay for itself? Not very many… maybe one.”
Speed and Cost of BolaWrap
Tense law enforcement situations erupt quickly and escalate rapidly. Time is of the essence in de-escalating these situations. With the BolaWrap, reloading the cartridge has been made easy, allowing the officer to quickly replace a cartridge once it has been discharged. Each cartridge is serialized for single-use and snaps in front of the device. Used cartridges are released by lever, drop-out and replaced with a new one.
The price of each cartridge is around $30. However, for about $1,200, an average-sized agency can purchase everything it needs, including the actual BolaWrap and customized holsters, belt clips, training and cartridges. A 10-person agency would face an expenditure of about $12,000.
Fiscally, what Makes Wrap Technologies so Special?
With an incredibly strong balance sheet, the company went public in its earliest stages of conception and immediately invested in a transparent manufacturing setup — a setup that would leave it well-prepared for the growth and demand it would see shortly thereafter.
Although just beginning to penetrate markets, Wrap Technologies is a small, early-stage company that grew to $333.71 million by the end of Q1 2021. It took advantage of being a publicly-traded company and now has an over 11,000 square foot property to continue developing, engineering and producing products.
Wrap Technologies has no debt and expects to see a 5-point improvement on margins this year. The company has 37.7 million shares outstanding, with 15.1 million in insider ownership and 22.6 million in non-affiliate public float. By late 2022, the company expects to see full profitability and looks forward to the future and what opportunities it may bring.
Nonprofit and government agencies have begun to offer grants to purchase the BolaWrap.
To learn more about the BolaWrap and VR training simulations, check them out at https://wrap.com.
The preceding post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga. Although the piece is not and should not be construed as editorial content, the sponsored content team works to ensure that any and all information contained within is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge and research. This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to be investing advice.
The author of this article owns stock in one or more of the companies listed above.