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Michael Martin of RapidSOS: Together We Go Further (Podcast)

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RapidSOS wanted to make calling for emergency help as simple as hailing an Uber. The idea could disrupt how crises are handled. But simple “disruption” isn’t always very simple, as this emergency response technology startup soon discovered.  

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The solution couldn’t just “fail often,” since emergency response can never fail. And though the startup built a prototype in a month, the team realized the challenge was bigger than just real-time data or a web platform could address. Most dispatch centers depend on infrastructure from the 1960s, and can’t accept a text messages, or know the precise location of a mobile caller.  

"You shouldn't kid yourself that you can throw up a fancy website or build a mobile app and you can solve the problems in these industries," says Martin. 

A real solution would need to bridge the gap between the mobile technology we all carry in our pockets and decades-old legacy systems. The company spent more time in in development, seeking the expertise of those in law enforcement, telecommunications and the 911 community. After three years, the app will be publicly released this May.

Related: Kathryn Minshew of The Muse: Decide Who You Are, or Have it Decided for You (Podcast)

In this podcast, we talk to co-founder Michael Martin about the long road to making big change happen, one that’s involved visits to hundreds of dispatch centers, long talks with emergency experts and even cold calls to former presidents. He explains what he’s learned: that making real innovation is as humbling as it is rewarding and that through the slow process of building trust and buy-in, collective expertise can drive change.
Linda Lacina

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Entrepreneur Staff

Linda Lacina is the former managing editor at Entrepreneur.com. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Smart Money, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Family Circle. Email her at llacina@entrepreneur.com. Follow her at @lindalacina on Twitter.