Work Life

Underneath the Halo: A look into one of the minds behind Halo Smart Labs

Ben Stagg, one of the minds behind the world’s “safest and smartest” fire alarm, went to college at age 14.

Now, he is the co-founder and CEO of Halo Smart Labs.

“I knew early on that he was not a normal kid,” said Penny Goins, Stagg’s mother. “He was very mature. Everyone accepted him on a higher level.”

Needless to say, he did not have a conventional educational experience.


His precocious personality was preceded by him learning how to walk at nine months, teaching himself how to read the words on cereal boxes at age three and beginning violin lessons at age five, according to Goins.

Stagg said he took advanced classes throughout elementary school. His last year in the public school system the 6th grade, before he moved to a private school that allowed him to learn at his own pace. After that still didn’t fit his needs, his parents looked into other options.

He enrolled at Mount Vernon Nazarene University at age 14. Although he did not receive a high school diploma, he was able to receive admission once he passed the university’s entrance exams.

//><!--“It was a unique experience,” Stagg said. “Academically I was where I was supposed to be.” He added that the hard part has been spending his “entire life to some degree being exceptional. Then you’re thrown into the same place, on par with everyone else, and you’re just younger looking.”//--><!

Ultimately, college wasn’t the right fit for Stagg. At 17, without a high school diploma or a college degree, he entered the Air Force. After a couple months, he became a cruise missile technician.

It was here that he said he received the foundation for all of his knowledge of electronic technology.  

//><!--That passion culminated in creating Halo Smart Labs with Chad White, co-founder and CSO of Halo Smart Labs.//--><!

“We wanted to make a difference, more than anything,” White said. “It kind of felt like if we didn’t do it, no one else would.

“Every day we wake up, we try to make the world a better place, a safer place.”

Quick Halo Smart Labs facts:

(1) Stagg had the idea to combine technology with safety and prevention after his father narrowly escaped the May 2011 F5 tornado in Joplin, Missouri. Although his father escaped, nearly 160 people did not.

Halo is a smoke detector that is an “industry-first combination of sensor technology for flash fires, smoldering fires and carbon monoxide in a single device.”

 (2) Halo Smart Labs created an IndieGogo campaign to “validate that people will purchase [the smoke alarms],” Stagg said. The campaign started with a fixed funding goal to raise $50,000 in one month.

By the time the campaign ended on June 17, they had raised 152 percent of that goal: $75,944.  

(3) Retail cost? The regular smoke alarm will be $99 and the Halo WX is $129.

The difference? One has weather radio capability, and the other is a standard smoke alarm, according to White.

(4) Halo is the only smoke alarm manufactured in the United States.

(5) Halo Smart Labs doesn’t plan on stopping at creating smoke detectors.

They have other plans in mind to create technology that will make people’s lives a little bit safer.

Stagg’s words of wisdom

“A lot of great companies die every day, and a lot of mediocre companies, too,” Stagg said. “It’s not always the amount of effort you put in. It’s a lot like fishing. The only way you can’t win is by not having any lines in the water.”

Photos courtesy of Ben Stagg.

Madysan Foltz
Madysan Foltz  @MadysanFoltz