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Cape Town startup RapidDeploy to move HQ to US after AT&T deal for 911 product


Just over a month after announcing a deal with US telecoms giant AT&T to offer its platform to the US’s 911 service, SA startup RapidDeploy is moving its headquarters to the US.

RapidDeploy claims that its cloud-based technology platform, offers emergency first responders relevant and accurate information in real time on a critical situation. This reduces response times dramatically, in scenarios where every second is a matter of life or death.

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The platform is already deployed in over 35 agencies around the world, with the solution deployed as far afield as Fiji. To date, the platform has processed tens of thousands of emergency calls.

CEO and co-founder Steven Raucher (pictured above, right) revealed the news about the US move today in a phone call with Ventureburn.

Speaking ahead of a flight to San Francisco where he is due to speak with potential investors, he said the company — which he and co-founder Brett Meyerowitz (pictured above, left) started in 2014 (Raucher joined in 2016) — had set up a Delaware-registered entity and is in the process of establishing a US headquarters.

He said he planned to move to the US — where he previously worked as a trader in the stockmarket there in the 1990s — next month. He would be located in Washington DC, to allow him to interact with federal government agencies for potential business.

RapidDeploy has set up a Delaware-registered entity and is in the process of establishing a US headquarters

Raucher said the company has over 30 staff based in Cape Town, Italy and the US and generates about 95% of sales in the US, at present and has just hired a chief operations officer (COO) who formerly worked at a Silicon Valley company. The new COO will help drive the company’s US business and its new office in Austin, Texas.

Potential to sign on 70k government clients

Raucher meanwhile would not comment on the dollar value of the AT&T deal, other than to say it had the potential to open the company up to about 70 000 government clients (in comparison he said South Africa offers only a potential 30 government clients).

Initially the agreement with AT&T will allow RapidDeploy’s platform to be used by about 6500 or more 911 providers in the US, he said, adding that live pilots are currently running in centres in Florida and Charleston, South Carolina (it wasn’t deployed for the latest storm, Hurricane Florence, he pointed out).

Those centres participating in the pilots will be able to use the new platform alongside legacy systems, to permit them to then compare the new system against the current one.

Birthed by first responders

Raucher and Meyerowitz originally met at a party where they chatted over their experiences as first responders. Raucher — whose brother drowned at sea — was at the time working as a sea rescue assistant, having returned to South Africa after a lucrative banking career in the US and UK.

When the two met in 2016, Meyerowitz was working as a paramedic after having returned to South Africa after working in London for 12 years as the chief technology officer (CTO) of a company there. He had designed a mobile-based platform after being frustrated with local solutions.

Raucher said the two had ploughed their own savings into the company. While he wouldn’t provide the exact figure of how much the two had invested in the company so far, he said it amounted to “millions of dollars”. “Luckily that 20 years in banking has given me the freedom to pursue my goals,” he added.

The company’s initial aim was to provide its platform as a solution to African clients. While the company is now focused more outside the continent, Raucher pointed out that the startup is however running a pilot in Ethiopia and has a team in Botswana.

Raucher says he is looking to make a difference in the world with the startup and points out that the first 20 people the company hired were — like he and Meyerowtiz — all first responders themselves. Says Raucher: “Everyone has skin in the game and is there to make a difference”.

*Correction (25 and 28 September, respectively): Brett Meyerowitz worked previously in London for 12 years as a CTO and not 10 as we previously had it.

In addition, we initially had it that Steven Raucher and Brett Meyerowitz started the business in 2016, however the business was in fact founded by Meyerowitz in 2014 with the first client going live that year. Raucher bought into the business in 2016.

Editor’s note (28 September and 22 October): Following the publication of the article RapidDeploy co-founder Steven Raucher, via his PR representative subsequently said in September that though he planned to begin working from the US next month, his family would join him at a later stage. 

RapidDeploy’s new chief operating officer (COO) Reinhard Ekl joined the startup in October, after serving as the vice president of product and public safety at US company RapidSOS, where he was instrumental in developing and rolling out the NG911 Clearinghouse.

Featured image: RapidDeploy founders Brett Meyerowitz (left) and Steven Raucher (right) (Supplied)

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