Community//

Steven Raucher: “Protect your equity at all costs”

RapidDeploy is on the forefront of technology innovation in 9–1–1 and public safety. “Bleeding edge” in public safety is not necessarily bleeding edge for other industries. Public safety is one of the final frontiers when it comes to digital transformation. We are helping public safety agencies digitally transform so that the communities they serve can […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

RapidDeploy is on the forefront of technology innovation in 9–1–1 and public safety. “Bleeding edge” in public safety is not necessarily bleeding edge for other industries. Public safety is one of the final frontiers when it comes to digital transformation. We are helping public safety agencies digitally transform so that the communities they serve can interact with 9–1–1 in personalized ways. We are implementing text-from-911 and text-to-911; we enable language translation via SMS, so that non-native English speakers can easily communicate with dispatchers; we are working with industry leaders to tap into IoT data that lives in the cloud like weather, traffic, location, etc.; we have embedded intelligence into our analytics tools so that agencies can better predict staffing surges.


As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs I had the pleasure of interviewingSteven Raucher.

Before co-founding RapidDeploy, Steven had a 20-year career in investment banking at SG Warburg, UBS, Credit Suisse, ICAP, and Sunrise Brokers. He started designing trading systems but then spent more than 12 years broking derivatives and emerging markets businesses. Steven was born in South Africa, but spent his career in both London and the U.S. He currently serves on the Board for the African Federation of Emergency Medicine.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

One of the most tragic moments of my life was also the biggest turning point — when I lost my brother in a horrific accident at sea. Ten years later, I decided to move my wife and three daughters from London back to Cape Town, where I had grown up, to reset my life. While investment banking afforded me a great lifestyle, this tragedy inspired me to pivot and focus on giving back. In Cape Town, I trained to become a Sea Rescue First Responder with the organization that had tried to save my brother. Inspired by the first responders that I worked with, I knew from that point on that I wanted to help those that serve on the front lines. Since then, I have been working to up-level public safety technology and use data and technology to give first responders better tools to do their jobs.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In August 2016, I met my business partner and RapidDeploy’s CTO, Brett Meyerowitz at a dinner party in Cape Town. We hit it off as soon as we realized that we were both volunteer first responders. Brett is a developer and systems architect and he’d been working on a cloud-based Emergency Response platform to help improve emergency response at the Agency he was volunteering at. He invited me to stop by and check out the work that he had been doing. The minute I saw it, I was hooked. We agreed on a deal a week later!

It’s incredible how one’s life can change on a decision to attend a dinner party.

Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

RapidDeploy is on the forefront of technology innovation in 9–1–1 and public safety. “Bleeding edge” in public safety is not necessarily bleeding edge for other industries. Public safety is one of the final frontiers when it comes to digital transformation. We are helping public safety agencies digitally transform so that the communities they serve can interact with 9–1–1 in personalized ways. We are implementing text-from-911 and text-to-911; we enable language translation via SMS, so that non-native English speakers can easily communicate with dispatchers; we are working with industry leaders to tap into IoT data that lives in the cloud like weather, traffic, location, etc.; we have embedded intelligence into our analytics tools so that agencies can better predict staffing surges.

How do you think this might change the world?

It’s pretty simple. There are 240 million 9–1–1 calls every year. Providing 9–1–1 telecommunicators and first responders with more real-time information and situational awareness will reduce overall response times and save more lives. On top of just innovation for the sake of innovation, building a cloud-native solution for 9–1–1 will truly democratize public safety. We believe that a life in Boone County, Arkansas is just as important as a life in Chicago. Every 9–1–1 agency, regardless of geography or budget, should have the ability to access the most innovative technology solutions.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

While frustrating that public safety is not further ahead when it comes to digital transformation, the good news is that the technologies that we are implementing have been tried and tested in other industries and we can learn from them.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

As a volunteer paramedic, Brett has been blown away by the lack of data and context that was provided by the telecommunicator to the first responders. He started to peel back the layers and realized that he could make a huge difference by providing better tools.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

While there are some early technology adopters in public safety, the industry overall is still evolving and transforming. Widespread adoption will ultimately be driven by industry leaders that are curious and agile, and open to calculated risk. Too many agencies are still not comfortable with the ‘cloud.’ We are seeing more openness; for example, RapidDeploy now has four statewide deals in the U.S. including California, Arizona, Kansas and Minnesota and we expect that momentum to continue.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

We are working to establish a new category within public safety technology. We believe that the only way for this industry to evolve will be through an open and collaborative ecosystem. We are establishing this ecosystem with big name partners like AT&T and Microsoft. We have some really exciting ecosystem announcements happening this Fall.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

In the early days of 2017–2018, we were bootstrapping the business with personal investments and a few customer contracts. We knew we had to raise money to scale the business, yet the typical Silicon Valley investors did not believe that a South African tech company could succeed in U.S GovTech. A friend of mine introduced me to Great Point Ventures and helped organize a face-to-face meeting with Ray Lane. Ray is a legend in Silicon Valley and has been the COO of Oracle and he is also an HP board member. I almost didn’t make it to that first meeting with Ray, because of an unexpected turn of weather and no available ride shares. In desperation, I offered 100 dollars to anyone in the lobby to drive me to the meeting. Luckily a volunteer got me to the appointment just in time, because in that initial meeting, Ray immediately understood the industry problem that RapidDeploy was trying to solve and jumped in with both feet! He led our Series A investment and continues to serve on our board. There is no greater gift for a founder than a seasoned operator as a backer. He’s become a great friend and mentor.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We are a purpose-driven company, so I see the impact of our work every day. We hear stories from agencies that now have better location accuracy, better situational awareness and lower response times. Our technology is lifesaving for the communities we serve. Additionally, cloud-based solutions mean that 9–1–1 agencies are more efficient and can repurpose dollars earmarked for legacy infrastructure to process improvements and staffing. I firmly believe we are using technology for good and are having a huge impact on citizen’s lives.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Anchor on the industry problem that you want to solve, not the possible solution. Staying focused on what we knew we wanted to fix, enabled us to better frame our Northstar and to become a more agile, curious and risk-taking organization.
  2. Protect your equity at all costs. Giving equity away to friends and family might be fun in the beginning but can cost you a considerable amount if you hit it out of the park.
  3. Get the best legal representation you can afford. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. We now have world-class counsel representing us and it has made a massive difference.
  4. Corporate structure is everything. Spend the time making sure your legal entity is properly set up, as this will save you huge headaches down the road.
  5. Hire slow and fire fast. In the beginning we were struggling to be viewed as a serious employer. As a result, we compromised on quality and culture fit. Now we take a different approach to make sure that there is a mutual fit with the employees we bring on, and that we build the most diverse team.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Joining the National Sea Rescue Institute in South Africa (NSRI) as a volunteer first responder was a game-changer, not just for my career but for my life. I believe that everyone should carve out meaningful time to volunteer within their community. Personal growth drives professional development.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” I have found that to be true. From 2000–2002 I rode a motorcycle from London to Australia, and the vast majority of this journey was through the poorer countries in Asia. I spent most of my nights in a different city in another stranger’s house, being fed by them. As I arrived back in the western world all this humanity disappeared. I learned that the less people have, the more they give. We need to remember that, and let that ground us, otherwise we will be swept up in our first world lives and risk losing our humanity.

Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

RapidDeploy is disrupting the way emergency services does business. Public Safety is the last enterprise vertical to move to the cloud, and we have built the dominant ecosystem, setting us up to be the category leader of public safety.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.linkedin.com/company/rapiddeploy/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/stevenraucher/
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

“The fastest and most efficient way to improve the state of our planet is to promote the worldwide empowerment of women” With David Schick and Fotis Georgiadis

by Fotis Georgiadis
Community//

Bryan Ruef: “You and your peers might not see eye-to-eye”

by Ben Ari
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.