Jacob Hargrave is confident his company has identified and solved a big problem. Now his challenge is finding a market for that solution to ensure that EverybodySafe.com succeeds.
The problem became apparent to Hargrave a few years ago, when his father was admitted to the hospital after suffering from a heart attack. Hargrave received a call from his father, who said he was about to undergo triple coronary-bypass surgery and had been in the hospital for three days. The call was the first Hargrave had heard about any of it.
When Hargrave’s father was admitted, he was unconscious, so a hospital worker simply grabbed his driver’s license, looked his name up in the phone book, dialed the number and left a voicemail. The worker was following standard procedure, but that didn’t help much, because Hargrave’s father lived alone. Hargrave was left to wonder why he had to wait so long to find out his loved one’s life was in danger.
“This is something the public doesn’t think about, but if they did, it’d scare the hell out of them,” he said.
And so the concept for EveryBodySafe.com was born. The company provides what Hargrave calls “communications insurance” — a service that involves calling, texting and e-mailing an unlimited number of emergency contacts when one of the company’s customers winds up in the hospital.
Here’s how it works: The company provides customers with an ID card, dog tags and stickers that can be affixed to cell phones or driver’s licenses. They include a unique customer number and the phone number to EverybodySafe.com’s operators. When a customer is brought to a hospital after an accident, a hospital worker, in theory, sees the ID, calls the number and speaks with an operator, who then sends out emergency notices to all the contacts listed in the customer’s account. Customers can also send out “I’m ok” notices themselves, such as when they’ve completed a long day of travels or made it unharmed through an earthquake.
The four-employee company is self-funded, with about $1 million behind it. Hargrave said the firm is open to venture money, but doesn’t necessarily need it.
So far EverybodySafe.com has “slight revenues” from having signed up about 1,000 customers/beta-testers, but hopes to hit 1 million by the end of the year, Hargrave said. To do that, he’s wisely decided to bypass the consumer market — and the costly advertising that penetrating that market would require — and is going straight to employers. The company is in discussions that Hargrave hopes will result in deals that would entail large employers adding EveryBodySafe.com’s services to their health coverage.
That mirrors the approach taken by Alert Notification LLC, a Tennessee company that Hargrave identified as the leader in the market EverybodySafe.com is trying to reach. Ten-year-old Alert Notification has an unspecified number of corporate customers, including Enterprise Rent-A-Car (PDF).
Alert Notification was also started after an emergency hospital experience with an unconscious relative, CEO Robert Smith said. Smith wasn’t familiar with EverybodySafe.com, but said a number of startups have entered the emergency notifications market to compete with his firm in recent years. Smith was gracious but very tight-lipped about his firm, declining to provide numbers on employees, customers or sales.
While it might look easy to set up a website and contract with a call center, the barriers to entry are much higher, Smith said. For example, a startup likely would need “substantial working capital” to not only fund the many business development initiatives crucial to survival, but to convince customers that the company will still be around in a few years.
“People are buying peace of mind,” Smith said. “They want performance. They want guarantees.”