Emergency response services have had a big boost of data thanks to advances in connected technology, with watches that can detect when their wearers are falling down and are experiencing trauma, cars that can pinpoint where their drivers are located, and home systems that can transmit important data about fires when you cannot just a few of the innovations we’ve seen in recent years. Today, a startup called RapidSOS, which helps connect those data points with those who can turn them into action, is announcing some funding as it continues to grow.
The startup has raised $75 million from a group of investors led by security and safety specialist VC NightDragon, with participation also from BAM Elevate, Insight Partners, Honeywell, Microsoft’s Venture Fund M12, Axon, Citi via the Citi Impact Fund, Highland Capital Partners, Playground Global, Forte Ventures, C5 Capital, and Avanta Venture. RapidSOS founder and CEO Michael Martin said that it is not disclosing valuation but it has now raised more than $250 million, and will be using this latest capital injection both expand its technology and its business overall.
The two go hand-in-hand: RapidSOS works with major device and software makers, from whom it takes the data points that their services create; applies data science to them to make better sense of the information; and translates that into information that emergency response centers — using a wide variety of their own software — can then use to do their work in triaging and calling out response teams.
Considering that emergencies are precisely the kinds of critical situations that need to work quickly and efficiently, the landscape of players involved is in reality huge and fragmented. RapidSOS currently counts 90 tech companies (covering more than 500 million connected devices and buildings), over 50 public safety vendors, and 15,000+ first responder agencies as customers and users of its platform. So far this year, this has worked out to handling 130 million emergencies. All those numbers represent big growth for the company over last year, when RapidSOS announced $85 million in funding. But considering there are more than 14.4 billion connected devices globally (that includes IoT), and that data and information in the name of quick response can extend into even more areas like smart traffic routing, there is a lot of room to grow.
The company’s business today is primarily in the U.S., with operations also in the U.K./Europe and South America, and services soon to be turned on in Japan (helped by a strategic partnership with one of its investors, NTT DoComo) and South Africa.
The heart of RapidSOS’s business is a platform that provides APIs to technology, insurance and healthcare companies (the list of tech companies includes the likes of Apple, Google, Uber, SiriusXM and more), which can in turn be used both to channel data and direct voice connections between those companies’ users and emergency response centers.
These work on the basis of continuous monitoring that might or might not have the proactive input of the users themselves, depending on the situation. So global events like the pandemic or a natural disaster might be front of mind as typical use cases (I first heard of the company when it went viral during a string of natural disasters years ago), but others include health monitoring for vulnerable individuals, vehicle crash detection, home security, fire, enterprise security, gunshot detection, personal safety, and critical event management.
In addition to the tech that it has built to make those connections and parse the data that comes out of them, it’s proven to be a middle man in translating some of the newer innovations at the tech end into actions at the lower-tech responders’ end.
“Before, 911 wouldn’t even know your name,” said Martin. “Now they have a live feed of the situation. It’s half a billion devices now working in harmony to save you.”
That work has included RapidSOS giving some 20,000 hours of training each year for emergency response centers to “understand emergency workflows and identify technology solutions to solve hard challenges such as verification,” in the words of the company.
Some of the triangulation that it’s devised in aid of that verification is showing up in the company’s IP: it has filed a patent on the use of social media as a channel for emergency management (RapidSOS has dozens of patent and patent applications overall).
Martin said that the plan was not to raise so soon again after last year, but given the tricky funding climate, the decision was made to double down now, with NightDragon’s focus being a special draw. The firm has made many investments in cybersecurity, but also others working in the adjacent spaces of security and safety such as HawkEye 360, Kraus Hamdani Aerospace, Capella Space, Premise Data and Interos.
“When we look at building greater security and safety for people around the world, this requires greater and more accurate response services for emergencies,” said Dave DeWalt, NightDragon’s founder (and the former CEO of FireEye, McAfee and Documentum). “By leveraging technology, we can save lives and help people feel more secure. NightDragon feels RapidSOS is best positioned to deliver on this mission, and we look forward to working closely with the team to accelerate it.”
NightDragon’s wider activity, and RapidSOS’s growth, both speak to a pretty salient point in the current market. Those building something that might be considered critical are faring the storm better than some others.
“We have invested in now 13 companies out of our NightDragon Growth I fund, which we announced last July,” said DeWalt. “We have always been diligent around valuation and ensuring that we are investing at multiples that reflect the value that our team and platform bring to the table. For that reason, our investment strategy in our current market hasn’t changed much as we are still following those core principles.”