Last week, Edison announced a $34M growth investment in RapidDeploy, a provider of cloud-based, configurable mapping and analytics software solutions catering to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) across the country. We (Daniel Herscovici & Brendan Scher) along with Ryan Ziegler were first introduced to Steve Raucher and the RapidDeploy team through Great Point Ventures, and quickly realized the power of their solutions and the unmet need in the 911 call centers across the US.
For years, tech firms found it challenging to work with state and local governments. With a general bias towards status quo and skepticism that new technology will deliver on its promise and won’t result in challenges effecting safety, this category has been difficult to penetrate. The pressures and new requirements brought on by the pandemic drove many to re-think their position on the cloud and capabilities innovators can deliver generally according to Deloitte:
“The pandemic caused many government agencies to dive headfirst into cloud. The flexibility and scalability of cloud allowed governments to meet the urgent challenges of the pandemic, such as massive surges in demand for services or the sudden shift to remote work. As a result, governments at all levels made considerable investments in cloud, but now they face difficult choices about how to maintain, develop, and build upon these new cloud investments.”1
While cloud computing has been around for more than a decade, part of the hesitation for widespread adoption within the government sector was that it was too “bleeding edge.” Thanks to the pandemic, this view shifted and transformed the concept into “leading edge.”
As a cloud-based, configurable software solution, RapidDeploy realized significant market pull over the last couple years and, importantly, served as a gateway for many PSAPs (911 Centers) to move from on-premise servers to the cloud. Furthermore, SaaS is accepted as a business model that works for this complex category. Given the predicable annual costs, agencies can easily include the investment in their budget cycles. Additionally, the product evolution, integrations across systems, and target pricing can be mutually designed around buyer and user communicated needs. This, in turn, can simplify the RFP process and allow for a true comparison across all available options, legacy or innovative newcomer.
While the sales cycle can be a longer than typical enterprise customers, this is ultimately a life safety product that requires rigor in selection. The wrap around services focused on customer success are critical to success. These include implementation without disruption, intuitive training ensures out of the gate impact , and feature evolution to provide continuous improvement. Successful selling and launch into this sector creates a knock-on effect of reference-ability among other customer peers, driving a sales flywheel effect.
We believe that we are entering a new era of GovTech, in which state and local governments are increasingly willing to adopt – and pay for – technology solutions that connect, augment, and improve upon their existing technology solutions. RapidDeploy is a perfect example of a solution that is in the right place at the right time.
Complacent Legacy Solution Providers
The state of America’s 911 infrastructure is underfunded, notoriously analog, and constrained by expensive, antiquated technology. John Oliver covered the problem in detail several years ago.
As a configurable solution, the company’s Radius mapping product disrupted the status quo by layering on top of, and uniting, a PSAP’s disparate data streams. The company’s current and future product suite will be transformative for 911 response in the US.
Strong, Bipartisan Tailwinds for 911 Overhaul
We believe that 911 has reached an inflection point in its desire to invest in modern technology. Those decisions are increasingly being made independently on the state and local level, but there are favorable tailwinds from a macro Federal level, as well. In late July 2022, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill to allocate $10B of spectrum auction authority to fund nationwide transitions to Next Generation (NG) 911 systems.
Based in Texas
RapidDeploy marks the seventh (and certainly not the last) Edison investment in a Texas-based technology company, and the third based in Austin. While Brendan obviously has a strong bias for Austin as his former place of residence and home to his alma mater, Edison as a firm is very bullish on the developing tech ecosystems throughout the south and southwest. The RapidDeploy investment reinforces our firm’s 36-year focus on identifying and investing in fast-growing healthcare tech, fintech, and vertical enterprise solution companies in burgeoning tech hubs outside of Silicon Valley.
All in all, RapidDeploy has an exceptionally strong product, impressive market pull, and a customer base that is increasingly seeking to adopt new technology. We are proud to be partnering with Steve and team on this journey to bring America’s 911 system into the 21st century.