Prepared, a startup building technology to better connect citizens to the US emergency call system, announced today that it has raised a $9.8 million funding round, led by First Round. Other investors in the round include M13, 8VC and Modern Venture Partners, among others.
The company has now raised over $11 million.
Prepared was born 3.5 years ago when co-founder and CEO Michael Carillon began creating software targeting public safety at Yale. Their early work included a security app for universities.
At the time, schools asked the team how data from students reporting problems could reach 911 services. It turned out that 911 call centers are technologically outdated and generally incapable of accept information other than calls. Since modern smartphones can collect images and video, restricting incoming 911 data to voice is pretty darn outdated.
Prepared, the startup formed from the first work of the founders, wants to fill this gap. The company has moved away from an app because most citizens don’t think about the need to contact emergency services in advance. So today, Prepared’s service allows 911 dispatchers to send callers a text that connects them to a web app, where they can download rich media about the situation they encountered.
After raising a pre-seed round on their idea, Prepared launched its service 10 months ago. Today, 30 cities have registered, representing, according to Chime, approximately 2 million citizens.
The company short-circuited the often long government procurement cycle by offering its service for free. Through Chime, the company’s software spreads from center to center by word of mouth, giving the company a growing market footprint and even increased revenue.
This is what venture capital is for – external capital is a way to avoid normal business gravity for a while.
Naturally, Prepared intends to monetize eventually. Chime was a little coy on the revenue plans, but mentioned that there might be a freemium element to the service over time and that Prepared could help federate data from 911 centers to other groups, perhaps allowing them to be to charge for the connection.
Deferring monetization in the age of SaaS might seem a bit old-fashioned. But Chime and the staff at Prepared view the 911 market as an aggregate, with the co-founder arguing that without outside effort, his potential customer base wouldn’t get his technology for a decade or more. So he raised money to go after that market now and make some money later. Prepared will likely see revenue this year, Chime said, adding that any first-ever revenue could be its main revenue stream.
I love when technology does something that impacts a lot of people. And given the importance of 911-style services, what Prepared is building could help quite a few people. We’ll be back when the company opens the revenue taps to see what it has in mind and how far it has expanded its footprint in the market at that time.