There isn’t a big difference between leadership in the civilian world and leadership in the military, says Todd Piett, CEO of Rave Mobile Safety.
“People expect when somebody comes out of a military leadership role that they’re very much [into a] ‘my way or the highway’ kind of approach. But that’s actually pretty far from the reality,” says Piett, who graduated with honors from the United States Military Academy at West Point and served seven years in the U.S. Army as an aviation officer. Piett says in both environments you are identifying and working with bright people, motivating and empowering those people, and making sure the right controls are in place to allow them to succeed.
This mentality has served him well at Rave, where he spent several years as chief product officer before taking over as chief executive last year. The Framingham, Mass.-based Rave makes software and phone applications for safety and critical communications, many of its clients coming in education, healthcare, and other large-scale enterprises that rely on fast and accurate safety communication to the masses.
Piett spoke with Chief Executive about how the company’s safety applications are more pertinent today than ever before, the ways in which CEOs can justify enterprise tech investments and more. Below are excerpts from that conversation.
Talk a little bit about the company itself. What are some of the big industries that you guys work in and what are the big opportunities in those industries?
We’re all about safety. It’s really about connecting organizations with those they protect. It might be in the public safety space. It might be making sure law enforcement or emergency management agencies can interact with their citizens in a way that’s productive. It might be at an education institution, whether that’s higher education or K-12 protecting their students.
To provide a little bit more color around that, for example, in higher education we’ve got about half the universities in the country that use our system, to get either get messages out really quickly if there’s anything from an active shooter incident to just a weather incident. They also allow students to post up and provide information about anything from vandalism to [if their] roommates have brought weapons or drugs into the dormitories. So, it’s really about enabling those campus safety organizations to provide information, and solicit information that’s contextual and relevant to help in improving the safety of the campus.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one of our really, really unique products is in the 911 space. If you’ve ever called a 911 center before and you were in trouble, what happens is essentially a phone number and some vague level of location information pops up. Then they’ve got to try and elicit and drag out of you everything that they need to make sure that they’re able to respond to the right location with the right resources.
As you can imagine, it’s really not your best day when you call 911. So it’s something that if you and I were sitting here talking that you would know off the tip your tongue and be able to provide, but it might not come as quickly when you or a loved one is hurt and dying in front of you or you’re in a stressful situation or have been assaulted or whatever the case might be. Smart911 allows you pre-provide a bunch of information. We deliver that automatically to 911. So, it might be photos of children if you had a missing child that you’re calling in about and panicked.
Down in Arkansas, you know, a mom called in freaking out that her child was missing from the bus stop. The officers immediately had the photo of that child displaying at 911 and in the vehicles for the local sheriffs. They were able to dispatch people immediately to search…and start the search versus having to go over to her house, get a picture, bring it back to the office and distribute it. And they found her. Two people have had heart attacks and the information pops up. They’re not able to communicate what’s going on, but the information pops up to 911 center that they called, shows the medical history. Not only does it speed the response and that the responders can know information about where they are, but also have full medical history so they won’t administer improper medicine.
Everything we do is really circling around somehow empowering and improving the safety of individuals that are somehow associated with our client organizations. As you can imagine, the current environment with everything from the weather to K-12 shootings, for us are drivers of our business. Even the “Me Too” Movement is another one that more and more organizations are looking for ways to collect information anonymously from employees related to their safety.