Eagle Scout’s free service a must for any parent concerned about product recalls

More than 900 million products were recalled in the U.S. last year. Many of those products are still in families’ homes.

Eagle Scout Chris LoPresti and his team decided to do something about this potentially dangerous problem.

They launched Bonnie, a free recall monitoring service that automatically analyzes your purchases and alerts you when a product you own has been recalled or has a safety issue.

Setup takes about 10 seconds. Once it’s activated, the service scans your inbox for emailed receipts and compiles a list of your purchases. You can also manually scan receipts for purchases made at a physical store.

After that, Bonnie works behind the scenes — ceaselessly searching for items that have been recalled. If there’s a match, you receive an alert and instructions on how to resolve the issue.

“Bonnie is a great service for anyone, though it’s particularly helpful for busy parents,” LoPresti told Forbes last year. “There are plenty of reasons why the majority of recalled children’s products are not promptly removed from the home, but the primary issue is that it’s just hard to keep up.”

With stories about privacy and technology dominating the news, I asked LoPresti what he would tell a parent who is skeptical about Bonnie because it requires access to email.

“We take privacy and security seriously at Bonnie, and we built Bonnie with a security-first mindset,” he said. “We protect individuals’ data with encryption and other security best practices, we don’t use data in ways that individuals don’t agree to, and anyone can change their mind at any point and opt out.”

LoPresti’s Scouting background

Chris LoPresti became an Eagle Scout on Oct. 23, 2007. He was a member of Troop 156 of Glenview, Ill., part of the Northeast Illinois Council.

He says his favorite Scouting memories included designing and creating Pinewood Derby cars in Cub Scouts, backpacking through Glacier National Park with his troop, and attending the 2007 World Scout Jamboree with his dad.

For his Eagle project, LoPresti built a series of spaces including outdoor seating, a garden, benches, and tables for an organization called Youth Services that provides collaborative social-emotional support for children.

“At the time of my Eagle Scout project, the organization had more demand for their services than they could accommodate, and the additional space allowed them to help more children and their families,” LoPresti told me.

LoPresti (second from left) served on a panel at the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization’s annual conference in front of more than 800 consumer safety professionals.

How Scouting helped LoPresti in business

Starting a new business takes creativity, teamwork and a willingness to put in long hours.

LoPresti says Scouting helped pave the way.

“Scouting helped prepare me in more ways than I can count,” he said. “Often times, potentially good businesses fail because of a lack of persistence. Scouting teaches you to work hard, be thrifty, trust yourself and to not let setbacks throw you off course.”

Before getting a degree from Yale University and becoming an entrepreneur, LoPresti learned business skills as a Scout.

“The early exposure to sales and marketing through selling popcorn and Christmas trees gave me confidence at an early age,” he said. It “instilled in me that rejection and learning from failures is an important part of growth.”