SA tech start-up expands after multimillion-dollar funding

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Brett Meyerowitz, CTO and co-founder of RapidDeploy.
Brett Meyerowitz, CTO and co-founder of RapidDeploy.

Local tech start-up RapidDeploy has raised $12 million (R169 million) in a series A funding round from venture capital firms, GreatPoint Ventures and Samsung NEXT Ventures.

Cape Town-based RapidDeploy, which recently moved its headquarters to Austin, Texas, says it will use the equity funding to expand its global operations and continue to hire employees.

The company provides a cloud-based call-taking and computer-aided dispatch platform that aims to simplify the complexity of emergency dispatch and reduce response times.

The system provides precise address location, improved situational awareness and allocation of appropriate resources for optimised response, using the Internet of things; cloud computing, mobility and online mapping mobile field service apps; and advanced incident management tools.

Samsung NEXT, formerly known as the Samsung Global Innovation Centre, is a venture capital investment fund established to increase Samsung's global support of early stage start-ups which specialise in advanced software and services innovation.

"Our mission is to reduce response times for all and improve situational awareness for first responders," says Brett Meyerowitz, CTO and co-founder of RapidDeploy.

"The funding will not only enable us to expand our existing product and technology teams, it will also assist us to further leverage cloud and mobile technologies in the interests of the first responder communities we serve."

The company will increase its workforce in the change management, project management and engineering divisions, and invest heavily in its research and development projects in its local and global offices, adds Meyerowitz.

Ray Lane, managing partner at GreatPoint Ventures and former president and COO of Oracle, will join RapidDeploy's board of directors.

"We are thrilled to join the RapidDeploy team. Modernising the first-responder ecosystem with cloud-based dispatch technologies will enable public safety organisations to perform faster and seamlessly across jurisdictions," notes Lane.

GreatPoint Ventures is a venture capital firm specialising in seed stage investments in energy, biotechnology, clean tech, telecommunications, material science and semiconductor engineering.

US expansion

Last August, American telecommunications conglomerate AT&T announced it was teaming up with RapidDeploy to provide 911 centres access to RapidDeploy's cloud-based platform.

Since then, RapidDeploy says it has assembled a core team of US-based public-safety industry leaders, encouraging the opening of its global headquarters in Austin, Texas, earlier this year.

RapidDeploy has also partnered with Samsung to build a mobile-responder technology.

"RapidDeploy has built a cloud native ecosystem for first responders. With Samsung specialising in mobility solutions we are natural partners as our technology is used on many Samsung devices, and leverages the new FirstNet 5G LTE network that is being rolled out across the US by AT&T," according to Meyerowitz.

One of the main challenges facing most emergency services agencies, he continues, is the unaffordability of the latest advanced response systems, which cost in the tens of millions.

"RapidDeploy changes the game by offering a cloud-based software-as-a-service product, completely democratising the affordability of the platform. The service only pays for active users but has all the same functionality required by our biggest customers."

Raymond Liao, VP and ventures MD at Samsung NEXT, explains: "We are excited about RapidDeploy's products and first-responder culture, which complement Samsung's end-to-end solution to public safety, including smart devices and public safety LTE infrastructure demanded by emergency service providers."

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