A startup building technology to better connect citizens to the U.S. emergency call system announced today that it has raised a $9.8 million round led by the first round. Other investors in the round included M13, 8VC and Modern Venture Partners.
The company has now raised over $11 million.
Ready was born 3.5 years ago when co-founder and CEO Michael Chimea Started creating software focused on public safety while working at Yale University. His early work included a security application for universities.
At the time, schools asked the team how data on students who reported problems could access 911 services. It turned out that 911 call centers are technically outdated and generally cannot receive information other than calls. Since modern smartphones can collect photos and videos, limiting 911 incoming data to only speech is obsolete.
Ready, a startup that grew out of the early work of its founders, aims to close this gap. The company abandoned the application because most citizens do not think about the need to contact emergency services in advance. So today, a turnkey service allows 911 dispatchers to send callers a text message that connects them to a web application where they can upload multimedia data about their situation.
After conducting a preliminary round of their idea, Ready launched its service 10 months ago. To date, 30 cities have applied, indicating that Chime’s population is estimated to be around 2 million inhabitants.
The company shortened the often lengthy public procurement cycle by offering its services free of charge. According to Chime, the company’s software is distributed from center to center by word of mouth, giving the company a growing market presence, if not an increase in revenue.
That’s what venture capital is for: outside capital is a way to escape the typical business heaviness for a while.
Of course, Ready has a plan to make money in the end. Chime was a bit iffy about the revenue plans, but said the service could have a freemium element at the time and help pool data from off-the-shelf 911 centers with other groups, possibly allowing them to charge connection fees.
Postponing monetization in the SaaS era may seem a bit old-fashioned. But Chime and its trained staff are looking at the 911 market as a whole, and the co-founders argue that without external efforts, their potential customer base won’t get their technology in a decade or more. So it’s a fundraiser to harvest that market now and make money a little later. Ready is likely to generate some revenue this year, Cime said, adding that any early sales could be a major source of revenue.
I love it when technology does something that touches a lot of people. And given how important services like 911 are, can a ready-made build help a lot of people. We’ll be back when the company turns on the revenue faucet to see what it has in mind and how far it’s expanded its presence in the market since then.