R62m boost for AURA as it charts global expansion

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From left: AURA co-founders Warren Myers, Ryan Green and Adam Pantanowitz.
From left: AURA co-founders Warren Myers, Ryan Green and Adam Pantanowitz.

Local security and medical response marketplace AURA has secured R62 million in a Series A funding round.

The start-up says the funding deal, led by pay-TV operator MultiChoice Group, KLT Holdings and Buffet Investments, positions it favourably for its global expansion plans.

Earlier this year, AURA expanded its services to East Africa and the UK, notingMexico and Nigeria as part of its growth trajectory.

AURA CEO Warren Myers says: “SA has one of the most advanced private security and emergency response industries, which has the capacity to ensure safety to a greater number of people who might not currently have access to it.”

Founded in 2016, AURA provides an on-demand geographically-variable private security response service from independent armed reaction companies in SA.

The security start-up’s digital marketplace enables anyone to access the closest vetted private and public security and medical response unit to their location, anywhere, anytime, using a connected device. In SA, it has over 400 000 active users on its network.

Co-founder Ryan Green notes: “We are gearing some of the funding towards hiring top talent to head up each new region, while growing teams in established regions – especially our tech team. The result is stronger relationships and value propositions for suppliers at all levels in the marketplace.”

“To accelerate the evolution of our ecosystem by offering additional value-added services to our customers, we are investing in scalable and innovative technology platforms like AURA. Not only does it strengthen our service offering and enhance long-term value creation for shareholders, but it also drives economic development and job creation,” comments Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice Group CEO.

Myers notes that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global safetech marketplace has boomed. “We currently have little more than 50 staff members, and are looking to double in size over the next 12 months.”

According to AURA co-founder Adam Pantanowitz, there are an estimated 7 000 private security response vehicles in SA that only service 2% of the population. On top of that, these vehicles are only in service 5% of the time, he says.

“AURA allows the seamless connection of people in distress, whether it’s safety or medical distress, with our network of responders,” explains Pantanowitz. “We aggregate emergency response companies and through our technology solution, we’re able to dispatch responders to any distress signal, anywhere in the country. This signal can come from a smartphone, a Bluetooth device, or any internet-connected device.

“The marketplace uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to hone its system and ensure the closest responders are dispatched to a distress call. This means AURA response times are reduced because security companies are aggregated and dispatched from one trusted source with a bird’s-eye view of the situation. Response times drop from an average of 30 minutes to as low as one to five minutes.”

Green points out that the new funding deal presents an opportunity for AURA to enter new markets. “It will ensure we create marketplace fluidity as quickly as possible rather than bootstrapping activities that slow down the required traction. This next year will be focused on that growth − ramping up operations as seamlessly and efficiently as possible.”

Myers concludes: “Our hope is to become the centre repository for risk data – not only responding to emergencies but to proactively predict and deal with any type of violent crime, whether on a one-on-one scale, or the size of a riot. The data is already available to do so, it’s just not centralised yet.”

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