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The Aro Story

Heath Wilson & Joey Odom
Heath Wilson & Joey Odom
Co-Founders, Aro

Video Transcript

Joey:

Ready to roll?

Heath:

Let's do it.

Joey:

My son, when he was five, he was playing a soccer game, and he had not scored a soccer goal all year. And he rears back his leg, kicks the ball, end over end, into the back of the net, and everybody goes nuts. His coach is excited. He grabs him. He lifts him up. And right as he scored the goal, it was this beautiful, amazing moment. He turns to the sidelines to lock eyes with me. Make sure dad saw it. Make sure dad's proud. But the problem is... Is that I missed it. Because I was looking down at who knows what, whether it was checking scores or an email or group text. I have no idea what it was, but I do know that I missed that goal.

Heath:

I found this school project my son had done in fifth grade and the premise of it was, "Hey, what do you want for the holidays? What do you want to give someone for Christmas in this case?" But it gets to a point where he says, "Hey, I want to give my dad the gift of family time for Christmas." And it just was a moment of recognition that, hey, I've got to be better.

I had been a part of a couple groups over the span of two years with a bunch of guys who were trying to be better, high achievers even.

And we talk about, what is keeping us from achieving what we want to achieve in life or being the type of person we want to be. And everyone said the same thing. They all pulled out their phone and said, "This, device is keeping me." And there's a bunch of different reasons. It could be work, it could be play, somewhere in between. It really wasn't the issue. It was, we hadn't developed the right relationship with our phones. We didn't have a place to put them. We didn't know when to put them down. We didn't know when to pick them up. So, I shot a text to Joey and I said, "I have a big idea. We need to talk." And actually one of the first statements I made to him was like, "I'm going to solve this for my family. And I know if I can solve for my family, we can solve it for others."

Joey:

He put into words, this tension I've been feeling and put into words the hope around what this could be.

Heath:

And that's really where this started. Like let's just put our families on a different trajectory. That little text turned into a passion project for really the next 12 months.

Joey:

We couldn't stop thinking about it. I think there are text from that weekend after was nonstop ideas.

Heath:

We got to work. So, we found this carpenter. We helped develop this box. We found some families and friends that were willing to get along with this on this journey. We said, "We want you do a couple things. Put this somewhere in your house, kitchen, family room, somewhere we're going to see it. We want to see this is the cue for you to put your phone away." At the same time we thought, all right, well, they can't just put their phone away. Like there needs to be a reward on the other side of it. Why don't we build a companion app that when you put your phone in, it actually recognizes it as time you're off your phone and it tracks that for you. Everyone said the same thing, "I'm so proud of myself. I felt pride when I put my phone down." And I always make the joke, I'm like, that's both embarrassing that we feel that way, but it's actually quite inspiring that all it takes is little distance from your phone to feel like you're doing something great.

Joey:

When I started testing the box, I had one of those moments with my daughter. We're watching a Harry Potter movie. We finished the movie. She turns to me and she says, "Hey Dad, did you know, that's the first time we've watched a Harry Potter movie and you haven't had your phone?" And I thought, "Oh my gosh, that was three hours without my phone," and she noticed that.

Heath:

I've got teenagers and I have friends that come spend the night, and I woke up and I saw six or eight phones in the box. A bunch of 14and 15 year olds had put willing, on their own, taken their phones. And I asked my daughter, I said, "Why did that happen?" She said, "Well, we just have such better conversations without our phones. We played board games. We play like card games. We just stayed up until 2:00 or 3:00 AM without our phones."

Joey:

When we realized, hey, we got to get this out to the world. We settled on three words, "Experience life, uninterrupted. "And that's what our goal is. It's not about putting your phone down. It's about what's after. And so this word aro, A-R-O. Aro is a beautiful word, and it means to notice.

Heath:

When you put your phone away, you have the opportunity to be there. When the moment happens to be connected, to be intentional, to be able to respond. And I just feel like I'd be missing out if I weren't taking advantage of those moments, those opportunities.

Joey:

There's this air of negativity around our phones. And, we look at our phones. I'm not getting rid of my phone. I love my phone. My phone is amazing. The things it does, it's incredible. And it's a big piece of my life. However, there are moments when I need a little bit of a break from them, that I need a place that's not my pocket. And it's almost as if Aro says, "Hey, it's family dinner or time. Let me hold your phone for you." "Hey, you're going to your son's soccer game. You mind if I hold your phone? Hey, you're going on a walk? Let me hold your phone. Hey, you're going to have a conversation? Let me hold your phone just for a few minutes so that you can go do that uninterrupted." And that's the goal. The goal is let's help people experience life uninterrupted by making it easy to put your phone down for just a few minutes.

Heath:

We started this really out of a place of a passion really, and trying to solve something for our own families. And I mean, we've been using this thing for quite a while now, and it's transformed everything. And I'm just so excited to think about the transformation it can have for others, because there is that possibility. There is hope. There is a different side to being on your phone, to having this relationship that we have. And we're so excited to launch that to the rest of the world and start to those same stories that we've experienced firsthand.

Heath Wilson & Joey Odom
Life
Uninterrupted

Aro helps us truly notice.