Excited to announce our investment alongside Morpheus Ventures in the series B of RapidDeploy which provides a unified public safety workflow, reducing emergency response time (sample articles: official press release, TechCrunch). We had invested in their seed and series A through our previous employer Samsung NEXT Ventures, thus coming in already with a strong understanding and respect for the company. Indeed Tau Ventures is overall an AI-first fund in Silicon Valley investing primarily in seed but we occasionally take later bets when we see immense promise. RapidDeploy was founded in 2013 in South Africa, moved to the US in 2018, and impressed us with (1) a strong need, (2) building an execution-focused team, and (3) creating a differentiated product.
1) The Need
RapidDeploy is a cloud-based call-taking and computer-aided dispatch (CAD) platform for public safety answering points (PSAPs). There are analogies to Uber except the situations are typically high stakes with a low level of error margin, so the tech has to work very well. CAD has historically been the last frontier for technological innovation since it’s so mission critical. PSAPs have a culture of wanting to see their data on servers on prem, they are not used to seeing everything in the cloud yet although there is an ongoing shift. PSAPs are also extremely fragmented in the US compared to other countries, we have 6,500 whereas most European countries are less than a 100. Finally, the funding for PSAPs is antiquated since it’s largely based on a surcharge on landlines. Different parts of the country have been adding surcharge on wireless numbers but the real solution will be to base it on population. All of this means this is a very difficult market to innovate in but also undeniably critical we do so given people’s lives are at stake.
2) The Team
RapidDeploy is primarily split between Austin and South Africa, which has allowed them to hire great talent at a significantly lower cost than Silicon Valley. The company also includes many first responders themselves which undeniably imparts a deep sense of mission, product sensibility, and sales credibility. The first responder culture comes from the very top, including the C-level. CEO Steven Raucher brings 18 years of financial markets experience and was motivated to create RapidDeploy after losing his brother in a swimming accident. CTO Brett Meyerowitz designed and built the second largest online casino in the world, serving as CTO for 12 years. COO Reinhardt Ekl integrated emergency location from Apple’s iOS 12 and Android into legacy 911 systems. Govtech is hard but we saw in this team the connections and the grit to overcome long sales cycles.
3) The Product
RapidDeploy ingests data from multiple different data streams (live APIs) into the platform. The data is digested and normalized into the system in a relational way which enables additional analytics and machine learning functionality. They also integrate legacy APIs, which is actually a substantial amount of work and we see as an IP moat. Besides the legacy APIs, RapidDeploy takes on the system integration for new APIs at the request of customers. This process is much easier/faster than incumbent on-prem solutions due to RapidDeploy’s cloud infrastructure. Overall their key features are mobile first, cloud as opposed to on prem, and a price that is as low as ⅓ of incumbents. Also, in Nov 2020 AT&T announced a significant deal with the company and below is a screenshot of their dispatch demonstrating how they provide richer data for 911 responses.
We are honored and excited to be part of RapidDeploy’s journey, using technology to solve a big problem. More at http://www.rapiddeploy.com.
Originally published on “Data Driven Investor,” am happy to syndicate on other platforms. I am the Managing Partner and Cofounder of Tau Ventures with 20 years in Silicon Valley across corporates, own startup, and VC funds. These are purposely short articles focused on practical insights (I call it gl;dr — good length; did read). Many of my writings are at https://www.linkedin.com/in/amgarg/detail/recent-activity/posts and I would be stoked if they get people interested enough in a topic to explore in further depth. If this article had useful insights for you comment away and/or give a like on the article and on the Tau Ventures’ LinkedIn page, with due thanks for supporting our work. All opinions expressed here are my own.