Accidental injury. It’s the leading cause of death for children between one and 14 years of age. For survivors, it can be a lifechanging event. Just ask Evan Karp ’02. At 13, Karp was rollerblading with friends in Buffalo, N.Y., when he was hit by a car. The accident resulted in a seven-month stay in a rehabilitation clinic in Delaware.
It was during those long, painful months that Karp, the son of a pediatric surgeon, decided to make injury prevention his life’s goal. Last year, his ambition met reality when he created Baby Central U.S.A. (www.BabyCentralUSA.com), a website and smartphone app that provides information to families about child safety and recreation. Karp says the idea for Baby Central came to him during his sophomore year at Muhlenberg, while working on a class assignment to create a business plan. “My passion for child safety, although present since my accident, really blossomed while I was at Muhlenberg,” he says.
A business major concentrating in entrepreneurial studies, Karp came up with a plan for Safety Net, a retail store that sells goods for childproofing homes. While working on his M.B.A at Nova Southeastern University, Karp revisited the initiative and decided that the preliminary version of the company “had too much overhead,” but an online version could be successful and profitable. The plan eventually evolved into Baby Central.
The site and app are built around search technology that can be used to find virtually any child-safety service a parent may need, all of them certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. By zip code, users can search for anything from baby sign-language classes, to toy stores, to birthing centers. And Karp says the medical resources search tool “has been perfected to the point where it is better than both Google’s and Yahoo’s.”
Baby Central provides information on childproofing homes and gives parents the option of buying recommended products directly from the site. It also displays current product recalls and Amber Alerts. “If you need quick answers to questions, Baby Central U.S.A. is an invaluable tool,” Karp says. “Parents can focus on bonding with their baby, enjoying the milestones of childhood, and leave the worrying to us.”
Karp left his mark on ‘Berg before he graduated by working with officials to implement the crosswalks that now go from the main campus to the library and the Center for the Arts. He calls the road without the safety measures as “an accident waiting to happen.”
Now, in addition to managing his company, Karp often goes to schools and other organizations to speak with children about what they can do to stay safe. He says he is becoming increasingly involved in Safe Kids USA, a network of organizations working to educate families about child safety.
What does Karp hope for the future of his company? “It is my plan to soon be able to license the app out to various hospitals so they are able to use it for their own marketing.” The website will soon include interviews with experts on child safety-issues, including retired athletes who will talk about helmet safety and concussion prevention. “If I could prevent one person from sustaining a life altering injury and going through the arduous recovery that I did, I would feel that my business is successful,” Karp says. “I love that I have nurtured Baby Central U.S.A. from infancy and now have seen it through to graduation. I am a very proud father!”
Jennifer R. McLarin ’86, Director • Sean Morrow ’91, Associate Director
Office of Alumni Relations, 2400 Chew Street, Allentown, PA 18104
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