Bryce Stirton, co-founder and president; Dennis Weiner, co-founder and director; and Nathanial Wish, co-founder and CEO
Four years ago, a police chief, a paramedic and an investor met in Florida to try to address what they all agreed was a problem: The people who sign up to respond to fires, car crashes and shootings needed better tools.
They started a company called Responder Corp., along with an investment arm, Responder Ventures. With money from co-founder Nathanial Wish’s family office, they began sifting through all the startups that saw the same problems they did.
They found quite a few — there’s Bounce Imaging, which makes throwable camera balls, and Qwake Tech, which helps firefighters see through smoke. And SceneDoc, a mobile software firm for police, which became the first Responder company to be acquired when Tyler Technologies bought it in 2018.
But it hasn’t been easy. They occupy a niche without many other people touching it. So a lot of the work of Responder Corp. and Ventures is about connecting people — putting an entrepreneur in touch with the kinds of agencies they want to serve, or with corporate partners like Amazon Web Services or Verizon through the new ResponderXLabs program.
What Responder really does is give much-needed resources to an underserved group: the people who make tech for first responders.
It’s key, said Responder Partner Dennis Weiner, to give companies a closer look at what first responders go through daily.
“What you have to keep in mind … in terms of resonating with them and actually getting buy-in is that your solution is going to address their specific problem, because in their mind, their problem is unique from everyone else’s,” he said.
And they are unique, but they have more in common than they realize. Responder tries to tease out where that common ground is, and push technology toward a place where it can fill the needs of disparate agencies.
“When you think about the tens of thousands of agencies that are out there, it’s a task that is very, very difficult for entrepreneurs to be successful at,” said Partner Bryce Stirton.