Prepared, a startup building technology to better connect citizens to the U.S. emergency calling system, announced today that it has raised a $9.8 million round, led by First Round. Other investors in the round included M13, 8VC and Modern Venture Partners, among others.
The company has now raised more than $11 million.
Prepared was born 3.5 years ago when co-founder and CEO Michael Chime started building software targeting public safety while at Yale. Their early work included a safety app for universities.
At the time, schools asked the team how data from students reporting issues could reach 911 services. It turned out that 911 call centers are technologically dated and generally unable to accept information other than calls. Given that modern smartphones can collect pictures and videos, restricting inbound 911 data to voice is pretty darn antiquated.
Prepared, the startup formed from the founders’ early work, wants to close that gap. The company has moved away from an app, as most citizens don’t think about the need to contact emergency services ahead of time. So, today, Prepared’s service allows 911 dispatchers to send callers a text that connects them to a web app, where they can upload rich media about the situation they have encountered.
After raising a pre-seed round on their idea, Prepared launched its service 10 months ago. Today, 30 cities have signed up, representing what Chime said was around 2 million citizens.
The company has short-circuited the often long cycle of government procurement by offering its service for free. Per Chime, the company’s software spreads from one center to the next by word of mouth, giving the company a growing in-market footprint, if not rising revenues.
That’s what the venture capital is for — external capital is a way to avoid normal business gravity for a period of time.
Naturally, Prepared has plans to eventually monetize. Chime was a bit coy on revenue plans, but did mention that there could be a freemium element to the service in time and that Prepared could help federate data from 911 centers to other groups, perhaps allowing them to charge for the connection.
Putting off monetization in the SaaS era might seem a little bit old school. But Chime and the Prepared staff are looking at the 911 market as an aggregate, with the co-founder arguing that without external effort, its potential customer base wouldn’t get its tech for a decade or more. So, it has raised money to go collect that market now and make money a little bit later. Prepared will likely see some revenue this year, Chime said, adding that any early top-line might be its eventual chief revenue source.
I like it when tech does something that impacts a lot of folks. And given how important 911-style services are, what Prepared is building could help a good number of people. We’ll circle back when the company turns on the revenue taps to see what it has in mind, and how far it has expanded its in-market footprint by that time.