Communication during an emergency can be a challenge. In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of startups aimed at helping companies send out, and receive, critical information during such times.
One of those startups, Austin-based AlertMedia, has just raised $25 million in what it’s describing as a Series C growth round. The company has created a cloud-based mass notification system that aims to streamline notifications across devices and platforms.
AlertMedia’s mission is to help organizations monitor critical events such as hurricanes, wildfires, terrorist attacks, winter weather, network outages, and active shooter scenarios. After identifying an event, companies can use its two-way communication software to connect with their employees over multiple channels (text, email, mobile app, voice, social media, and others) using one mobile interface.
The capital infusion, raised solely from Baltimore, MD-based JMI Equity, brings AlertMedia’s total venture funding to $42 million since inception in 2013. Previous investors include Austin-based Next Coast Ventures, Silverton Partners, and ATX Seed Ventures, among others.
Brian Cruver, founder and CEO of AlertMedia, told me in 2017 that he came up with the idea for the company after the Boston Marathon bombing, the Newton school shooting, and a West Texas plant explosion.
“I was watching them unfold on the news and became interested in how communication was and wasn’t happening,” he said at the time. “I noticed that social media was helping the public know what was going on before news media and law enforcement.”
Cruver founded a team to build a communications platform for warnings and alerts that could be sent via a social media type platform.
Today, the AlertMedia offering is being used in more than 90 countries. Over time, use of the platform has gone beyond typical emergency situations to include operational use cases, according to Cruver. For example, trucking companies use it to assign jobs and notify locations that deliveries are about to arrive. Hospitals use it to fill open shifts for nurses. Others can warn employees traveling from one city to another of an emergency at their destination if needed.
“In addition to sending a message to multiple channels simultaneously, one of the great features about AlertMedia is the two-way communication. When an employee receives a message, they can respond with questions or updates,” said John Hargrove, the chief information officer of information technology at Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union. “Last winter, I probably used the system ten times to communicate with employees about severe weather closures.”
Tom Porter, former director of human resources and administration for Kawasaki Motors, told Crunchbase News that, during the California wildfires, “AlertMedia’s platform made it easy to isolate impacted employees… and let them know their number one focus should be on protecting their safety, families, and property.”
Currently, AlertMedia has about 100 employees, compared to just more than 50 in late 2017. It plans to hire another 50 to 70 more people in the coming year, according to Cruver. Meanwhile, revenue has grown considerably since the company launched its app in 2015, and its customer base doubled from 500 to around 1,000 during 2018, he told Crunchbase News. Enterprise customers include Walmart, Kawasaki, BP, DHL, Greyhound, and H-E-B, among others.
Cruver said there are a number of factors behind increased demand for AlertMedia’s product, including the widespread belief that climate change has led to an increased number of natural disasters. He also thinks the distributed workforce trend has made it more difficult in general for employers to reach employees in times of emergencies.
“We have a lot of customers in transportation, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and business services. Our platform spans such a wide range of industries that the addressable market for us is huge,” Cruver told Crunchbase News. “That’s largely behind the reason for this funding, so we can meet demand and get the word out. There’s still tens of thousands of organizations around the world that haven’t even heard of us – yet.”
The company plans to use the money toward new product development, international expansion and as mentioned above, hiring.
Robert “Bob” Nye, general partner at JMI Equity, has joined AlertMedia’s board of directors as part of the funding.
“We couldn’t be more impressed with the AlertMedia team and their ability to execute,” he said in a press release.