ST. LOUIS, MO, SafeTrek, a personal safety technology company, has closed $3.2 million in new funding from four venture capital firms.
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Since moving their product development team to St. Louis 18 months ago the company has raised a total of $4.4 million. This latest seed round of financing marks a successful one of St. Louis' most high-profile venture rounds to date. SafeTrek plan to use the funds to add 10 more software engineers (mobile & full stack) before the end of the year to double the size of their product development team based in St. Louis.
The goal is to expand their unique one button "hold-until-safe" panic alarm style mobile app into a connected apps platform for all types of personal safety use cases and emergency services dispatch requests. They also plan to offer the startup's core technology, which is an API to the national emergency services network, to other developers and companies such that they can build their own personal safety integrations into the Police Department, Fire Department and Ambulance.
The seed round was led by Cultivation Capital, with participation from global venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Maveron, and Aspect. Collectively, these firms boast more than 216 IPOs and 388 acquisitions. Also noteworthy are the interests involved.
Maveron is founded by former Starbucks' CEO, Howard Schultz, that only invests in consumer businesses and Aspect is a 100% female-founded venture firm. Their alignment around SafeTrek indicates a strong belief in mass adoption and suggests that the startup has seen considerable market validation of the core product.
"We spent a significant amount of time with investors across the nation to find the right fit," said Co-Founder, Nick Droege. "We're proud of the group we've assembled. They have unparalleled experience in growing companies, a vast network of valuable resources, and a genuine shared passion for making the world a safer place."
SafeTrek was recently ranked number three on CNBC's national Upstart 25 List of "most promising young startups." This summer, SafeTrek's 26-year-old co-founder and CEO, Zach Winkler, was also named to St. Louis Business Journal's 30 under 30 list.
"Every decision we make is about furthering our mission to protect and comfort people so they can live freely." said Winkler. "This investment empowers us to grow beyond our flagship mobile application into a connected safety platform - delivering that same peace of mind through products and devices used in everyday life."
Using this investment, SafeTrek is planning to build out a connected app platform so that all types of emergency services can be dispatched by all types of devices. Their goal is to move beyond the already disruptive one button "hold-until-safe" mechanism to an even more responsive system, that can integrate contextual signals via IoT or wearable devices and be activated via other inputs such as voice. For example, pairing your Nest Protect smoke alarm with SafeTrek would mean that the fire department could be automatically dispatched if the alarm is triggered and you fail to mark yourself as safe.
Following the "apps-within-apps" trend of other major consumer tech companies, SafeTrek is hoping to provide personal safety services within other apps themselves, such that users can report their status while using ridesharing apps like Uber. This would enable ridesharing companies to monitor any dangerous situations between driver and rider as they develop, for example if a wrong turn was inexplicably taken, or if a passenger was drunk. These use cases see SafeTrek offering valuable data to partner companies and advance warning on any threatening behavior within their network.
The company relocated their product team from San Diego, CA to St. Louis 18 months ago and has since achieved pivotal milestones that include:
Launching their connected safety platform with key integrations like Nest Protect (Google), Alexa (Amazon) and Apple Watch.
Forging partnerships with notable institutions such as Washington University.
Demonstrating impressive usage of their products with an estimated 40,000+ emergencies handled.
The impressive quality of the current product drew the attention of new investor NEA. "As a SafeTrek user myself, I was eager to connect with the company" said Vanessa Larco, Partner at NEA. "The ever-growing prevalence of devices and availability of data have created a huge opportunity; SafeTrek is harnessing this information to make emergency services more effective and efficient. We're thrilled to partner with the team as they continue to empower users as a pioneer in personal safety technology."
As the business has grown, so has the team. From four founding team members (Zach Winkler, Aaron Kunnemann, Brittany Dameron, Nick Droege), they now have more than 10 full-time employees and expect to double to 20 by 2018. In addition to hiring, the new capital will support SafeTrek's new platform expansion and key product enhancements.
Cultivation Capital previously led a convertible note round in SafeTrek in March 2016. "The traction and growth SafeTrek has achieved in a short amount of time is remarkable," said Cultivation Capital Managing Partner Brian Matthews. "We feel honored to support such a talented team.'