Just knowing that 9-1-1 is always there for you when you are in potential danger is great, but what happens when you are unable to make a phone call, or you have no idea where you are; isn’t this a big problem? Thankfully some of brightest minds developed RapidSOS. The mobile app that connects you to 9-1-1 faster provides location and information making it the safest app to own if you ever feel in danger. With the added feature of letting your loved ones know you have arrived safely and IOT technology on the way, you wont let your kids leave the house without it.
Today we sit down with CEO and cofounder Michael Martin to learn more about the the life-saving company and how it plans to expand to make your life even safer.
Tell us about the product or service.
RapidSOS Haven is a universal mobile safety and security service. Activated via a mobile app downloaded from the App Store or Google Play store, Haven provides a suite of safety and security features. Foremost of these is rapid access to first responders. Over 180 million mobile 9-1-1 calls are made each year in the United States, each relying on a singular voice connection over an infrastructure dating to the 1960s. The result is over 10,000 fatalities annually when 9-1-1 callers can’t be located.
RapidSOS Haven provides a rich data link to first responders, transmitting voice, GPS location, type of emergency, and medical & demographic data. The result is better situational awareness for first responders and transformed emergency outcomes.
Haven also connects the user with friends and family by notifying them if the user has triggered an emergency alert. With the Family Connect feature, the user can share their real-time location and check in with loved ones. Users can even call the 9-1-1 dispatch center closest to a loved one’s location when they need help, sending that person’s location and vital information. Haven provides security abroad with the International Feature, a global directory of emergency numbers.
How is it different?
Led by a team of top engineers from MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Google, NASA, Microsoft, Oracle, and Argonne & Oak Ridge National Labs, RapidSOS spent over three years developing a cloud telecom and data analytics platform that allows any device to transmit data directly to the nearest dispatch center while simultaneously providing a suite of technologies to connect, secure, and protect the family. RapidSOS is the only company that can universally transmit data into the existing 9-1-1 infrastructure. Other companies either text friends/family in an emergency (which provides limited assistance in a true emergency), connect to a third party call center which then conferences in 9-1-1 over voice (typically causing a 33% delay over a regular 9-1-1 call), or simply provide a better interface for placing a regular 9-1-1 call (creating a regular 9-1-1 by tapping a button instead of tapping each number, for example).
RapidSOS spent years in 9-1-1 dispatch centers developing its technology and gaining a deep understanding of dispatch center operations. The result is an award-winning technology platform developed in partnership with 9-1-1 and backed by some of the world’s leading technologists and investors, which will dramatically alter the outcomes of emergencies while providing a blanket of safety and security around the family, wherever they travel.
RapidSOS was named the best mobile technology at MIT (MIT $100K), one of the top three innovative world technologies (SXSW), the best new venture by Harvard Business School, and one of the top 10 university start-ups globally by Founder.org.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
RapidSOS’ core technology allows any person or device to establish a seamless data pipeline to 9-1-1 centers. This provides a faster, more effective solution across the home security ($31B), medical alert ($15B), emergency roadside assistance ($10B) and personal security markets. Moreover, today each of these markets relies on a third party call center to relay digital data to analogue 9-1-1 (OnStar is a classic example of this). RapidSOS’ technology eliminates the need for the call center by passing data directly to 9-1-1 and first responders, facilitating more effective responses without any COGS.
RapidSOS’ first product, Haven, provides transformative access to emergency services for the nearly 161 million Americans that face a higher risk for emergencies: 106 million patients vulnerable to emergencies (e.g. diabetes, epilepsy), 32 million domestic violence/sexual assault victims who may need help in situations where they may not be able to speak, and 46 million college students, youth, and teachers at risk of violence (sexual assault, mass shootings).
What is the business model?
RapidSOS will initially drive revenue from its universal security service, monetized as a recurring monthly subscription similar to OnStar or home security services, but at a ~90% lower price point and with a more effective service. This service is primarily provided to end users from B2B partnerships with insurance companies, large tech and telecom companies, universities, wearables manufacturers, and member organizations. RapidSOS is currently in discussions with 251 organizations representing over one billion people globally. The data on emergencies, including specific timeframes, frequencies, and geographies, will be particularly useful in addressing and predicting real-time accidents and crimes. This will be highly valuable for insurance companies, automotive OEMs, health providers, municipalities, and a variety of constituencies.
What inspired the business?
RapidSOS’ CEO Michael Martin’s personal experiences around the challenges of emergency communication led him to found RapidSOS in 2013. In 2012, Michael was followed home one night in Harlem, NYC, when he realized how difficult it is to get help when you need it most. More recently, Michael’s father fell off the roof of his childhood home while trying to clear snow. For nearly two hours, Michael’s father lay in the frozen driveway with a broken wrist and shattered hip, unable to reach 9-1-1 from his cell phone. It wasn’t until Michael’s mother came home from work and was able to dial 9-1-1 from the home’s landline that an ambulance was called.
Are people conditioned to use an app in case of emergency rather than just dialing 9-1-1?
The average American spends 2.8 hours a day on their smartphone, almost entirely in apps. By contrast, the typical American will call 9-1-1 once every 2.5 years or so. In an emergency, people resort to standard memorized behavior – extensive user testing has shown that using an app to access emergency services is both more intuitive and faster. Simultaneously, through several partnerships, we are only a few months away from releasing technology that will allow for data transfer from any user who dials 9-1-1, so long as they have the Haven app on their smartphone.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Within six months, we will be announcing some major partnerships that will drive tens of millions of users on our Haven application (or behind the scenes native in devices). Simultaneously, we will be announcing the first partnerships that will connect devices (wearables, IoT) directly to 9-1-1 via our technology.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Sometimes you need to work within the system rather than focus on “disruption”. We initially focused on working around 9-1-1, but quickly realized we needed to work in partnership with 9-1-1.