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Blog calendar    Feb 28, 2024

Electrifying Growth Episode 22: One of the Most Interesting Men in the World: Saving Lives and Making Money with Steve Raucher

RapidDeploy co-founder & CEO Steve Raucher joins Managing Partner and host Chris Sugden for Episode 22 of Electrifying Growth.


“We build cloud native software for public safety. We focus on mapping for the call taker. When you hear '911, where is your emergency?' [we're] the map they're using." - Steve Raucher

Steve Raucher, co-founder and CEO of RapidDeploy, knows a thing or two about high stakes. His journey from the trading room floor to spearheading an innovative public safety software company is the kind of tale that gets told for years to come—not just for the inspiration but for the invaluable insights.

RapidDeploy is a Next Gen 911 solution that supports the unified emergency response journey and drives better outcomes in mission-critical situations. Steve's success story began in tragedy but led him to the intersection of enterprise and purpose, revealing that the path to impactful business often weaves through the fabric of personal experience.

The Priceless Experience of a Tech-Enhanced Adventure

Imagine going on a transcontinental motorcycle trip, armed with GPS and two-way radios, only to find yourself in a tense standoff with authorities who don't understand your tech. In Iran, that's exactly what happened to the Raucher brothers—a vignette that likely would have deterred most, but instead reinforced the necessity of adapting and persevering through adversity. Steve reflects on the situation saying, "Your worst experiences are your best stories. History belongs to the victors. But as long as you survive it, you can create your own narrative." He goes on to say, "That two year road trip was my MBA. That was how I understood how to get out of real trouble; how to, on the fly deal, with major problems. It also taught me about life and humanity."

A Pivot to Purpose

Tragically in 2006, Steve's brother experienced an offshore swimming accident in South Africa and passed away. In retrospect, Steve understood that the problem did not lie with headcount on the NSRI, National Sea Rescue team, but rather with incident management and dispatch. "From someone noticing my brother was in trouble to [help] being on-scene was 28 minutes."

Later that month, Steve and his wife went to dinner with a couple other "PTA parents" where he met his future co-founder, Brett Meyerowitz. The two bonded over their mutual passion for volunteering. Steve shared the story of his recent loss and Brett explained an emergency services dispatch platform he'd been working on in his spare time. The rest is history.

Navigating the Govtech Market

"I would be remiss not to call out that I knew this market was hard. Public safety is an ecosystem. I really sought out corporate venture capital early on who had skin in the game in our market." Steve began by understanding this industry's systematic framework: the money flow, how contracts are made, understanding who the buyers are. He described it as a "forced journey of discovery."

His greatest takeaways? "What I learned from my market was how it funds and how important reseller relationships are, who has the contract vehicles, and how to go faster in the government space." He also focused on creating deep, meaningful relationships. 

Valuable Takeaways: 

  • Importance of Building the Right Team: Steve echoes a sentiment known to every successful equity firm: recruit quality people, and speed and success will follow.
  • Recognize Your Strengths (and Weaknesses): A prudent CFO can be the yin to your yang, balancing the team with a diverse set of strengths.
  • Product-Market Fit is Key: Adaptability is a vital characteristic for survival and success, particularly during unprecedented global events like the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Build a World-Class Product: While the total addressable market (TAM) is important, Steve emphasizes that a world-class product makes a company stand apart.

Steve's story is not merely one of overcoming fear and adversity; it's a strategic playbook. His story catalyzes new thinking on how to reframe loss, raise funds, leverage networks, and navigate the complex terrain from startup to scale-up.

Chris is Managing Partner and Chairman of the firm's investment committee. He has been on both sides of the table as a successful entrepreneur. His experience includes leading sales, product, finance, business strategy and capital formation.