Next generation 911 for emerging markets
Pitch us on your solution
Two-thirds of the world lacks 911. Flare utilizes today’s technology to route ambulances in minutes. Our Uber-like technology places ambulances on a digital map. Medically trained dispatchers connect the nearest available ambulance to the scene and provide over-the-phone care. We have reduced the cost of services through our annual membership product, which allows people to access emergency response services throughout the year. Flare has saved thousands in Kenya, and reduced response times by 90%. The solution is designed to scale, meaning we have the potential to save millions around the world.
Bangladesh presents a similar opportunity - large population without 911, growing mobile-market, and motivated workforce that wants solve challenges using technology. We will pilot Flare with the local community - map facilities, onboard providers, and train dispatch. Starting in Dhaka, we will expand to rural areas, thereby reaching those who are most in need, while spurring economic growth.
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What is the problem you are solving?
The need for fast, affordable emergency response is huge. 57% of the world has no 911 service, which equates to nearly five-billion people. According to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 90% of global injuries occur in lower-middle income countries, which are simultaneously the least able to deal with such injuries.
Admission times of under an hour significantly improve the likelihood of survival for patients. In Nairobi, Flare has slashed response times by 90%, ambulances now arriving within 20-minutes and dispatched in under a minute. The company was designed to scale, and is now ready to pilot our technology and systems in Dhaka.
Flare also is able to help with disaster and mass casualty incidents which we believe is a huge value add in Bangladesh. Ten-million people are impacted by natural disaster emergencies in Bangladesh each year, making it one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries. Despite this, there is no system to coordinate emergency response effectively. Ambulances are often ill-equipped to carry patients, and are not officially registered.
Who are you serving?
We are working to directly and meaningfully improve health outcomes and economic opportunity across Bangladesh.
We aim to improve health outcomes, particularly in disaster situations, through creating a coordinated emergency response infrastructure using today’s latest technology. We will establish a partnership with the government’s Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme, as they explore risk reduction solutions for disaster preparedness across the country, to ensure the sustainability of our solution.
We will hire from and work with the local community to increase economic opportunity, both through our own operations, as well as increasing provider and health facility demand. We will build a local dispatch team in Dhaka, and train staff to onboard, register, and provide quality assurance to the providers on our system, as well as market the membership product to individuals and corporate partners.
In Kenya, we worked with the community, providers, government, businesses, and health facilities to ensure our model was appropriate in the Kenyan context. We will use the same approach in Bangladesh. We understand that working with the community to ensure suitability of a solution is paramount to its success, and look forward to exploring how we can adjust our model to suit the needs of Bangladesh.
What is your solution?
Flare is building next generation 911. We created an end-to-end, Uber-like technology that allows us to identify and dispatch the nearest ambulance in seconds, and be on-scene within 15-minutes. We established a dispatch team, which leverages our technology to ensure vehicles reach emergency scenes quickly, while providing over-the-phone care to patients until the vehicle arrives on-scene.
Like Nairobi, road accidents are very common in Dhaka. We sell our membership to mobility partners like taxis, tuk-tuks, motorcycles, cars, and trucks to ensure transportation safety and protection while on the road. Our innovative membership, Rescue, utilizes a micro-insurance model. Individuals, families, and corporate partners pay an affordable fee ($2/person/month in Kenya) to support the overall system. This creates a sustainable infrastructure, while reducing the cost of each trip, and ensuring payment is not a factor during an emergency.
We began operating in Kenya in 2017, and now provide coverage and peace-of-mind to over 40,000 members, most of whom previously lacked access to emergency help. Since launching, we have saved over 2,000 people during the worst moments of their lives, and reduced response times by over 90%. Each interaction is tracked in real-time, thereby automating collection of previously non-existent data, while saving time and lives.
We have proven the success of our model, and are ready to begin scaling to similar markets around the globe. There is immense opportunity to save lives in Bangladesh, particularly given the disaster-prone nature of the region, which makes it an ideal market to pilot.
Bangladesh is the “fifth largest mobile market in the Asia Pacific” according to GSMA. However, internet penetration is very low. Similar solutions in the region, such as URAL EMS, require internet access. Flare allows individuals to call for help via a basic hotline. Our digital cloud platform for dispatch also works on and offline and synchs when internet access becomes available.
Flare is replicable. Devices are fitted to any ambulance, and the technology is easy to use and built with numerous features, like offline maps that enable it to be used in low bandwidth situations. Following device fitting and crew training, ambulances are instantly live on the Flare system and can begin taking dispatches, which takes approximately 3-hours in total.
Connecting all aspects of the emergency response system - providers, health facilities, and individuals - Flare is the only next generation solution for emergency response in emerging markets.
Select only the most relevant.
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Nairobi, Kenya
In which sector would you categorize your solution?
If you selected Other, please explain here.
Health, Technology, Transportation, Security, Safety, Emergency Response
Our solution's stage of development:Growth
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
In the US and Europe, emergency response systems rely on outdated landline frameworks that require a widespread address system in order for ambulance dispatch to work and substantial multi-billion dollar investments to set-up. Landline infrastructure is nonexistent across many low- and middle-income countries, and addressing is limited, which creates a unique opportunity to design, develop, and implement a more advanced system in these regions using today’s latest technology, such as automated GPS navigation and location based services.
We are the first mover across emerging markets and the only end-to-end solution for emergency response. Alternative options include calling hundreds of providers to assess availability and location, or not receiving care at all. Similar initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa are focused on building solutions to address one or two sides of the provider-customer-dispatch system, but not all three. We are dedicated to building a comprehensive system that addresses the market from all sides. Our strategy is more complicated, but we are confident that the only way to build 911 is to build a brand new and sustainable infrastructure.
Unlike traditional systems, Flare utilizes today’s technology to create an integrated, low-cost, ready-to-scale solution for emergency response. It is cloud-based and runs on a mobile phone and laptop. We built Flare mobile-first and for low-resource contexts. A fully automated solution, we utilize the latest digital technology and are leading the way for the IoT transition in global emergency response.
Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?
Through our inclusive membership, technology, and systems (activities), we provide increased access to emergency response services and reduce time-to-care (outputs), and minimize societal-level morbidity and mortality, while providing peace of mind to all (outcomes).
Early on, we evaluated and assessed the solution with local populations across Kenya, and built our solution based on that research. For the past two-years, we have been operating in the market, and continually improve our operations, using feedback from members and providers. We have seen enormous uptake on every level - from more ambulances joining the platform, to diversifying our emergency response providers to fire and security, to reducing response times and providing our service to tens of thousands of members. Across the board, our key stakeholders report increased peace of mind for having coverage in case of emergency (members) and the increased ability to do their jobs better and save more lives (providers).
We will take the same approach in Bangladesh, starting with operations in Dhaka, and expanding to rural areas. One in 10 people die in emergency situations in places without 911. Without our solution, that statistic will remain. We are actively working to make sure that people in cities can access basic services that make their lives better, easier, and ultimately allow them to survive emergency situations.
Select the key characteristics of the population in Bangladesh your solution serves.
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people are you currently serving with your solution? How many will you be serving in one year? How about in five years?
Currently, we provide emergency response coverage to over 40,000 people, most of whom previously lacked health insurance, and saved close to 2,000 lives.
In one year, we aim to be providing coverage to over 100,000 people and saved close to 5,000 people.
In five years, we expect to cover over 1m people and saved close to 50,000 lives.
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
With support from Tiger IT Foundation, we will conduct a one-year pilot of our emergency response solution in Bangladesh. Using our proven model, we will establish a dispatch center in Dhada, an urban center, and expand operations to more rural locations from there. We will hire a team of local experts in operations, medical dispatch, and business development. Our team will work closely with them to 1) map facilities in Dhaka, 2) establish partnerships with corporates, 3) onboard ambulance providers, and 4) train key stakeholders on the platform. Rideshare companies are popular in Dhaka, meaning the technology will be intuitive to use. It is free for providers to join, and we will provide them with the hardware necessary to operate in our system. During the one-year pilot, we will establish our presence in Dhaka and plan growth into more rural areas.
In five years, we expect to have a nationwide presence in Bangladesh, and be expanding into our second Asian market. We plan to be active in five countries across East and West Africa, and the pilot in Bangladesh will allow us to expand within a second continent that is lacking emergency response infrastructure.
What are the barriers that currently exist for you to accomplish your goals for the next year and for the next five years?
Our barriers include:
Financial - We need help with initial capital to set-up our dispatch center and scale operations. We know that within 2-years of operation we can turn a profit, but the initial 2-years require the funds to be able to set-up the needed infrastructure before we become cash flow positive.
Supply - From a market stand-point, to quickly set-up our system we must rely on existing providers (ambulances). There may be cities or countries which lack the available supply and make it much harder for us to move into at this point. We believe, however, from our research that there are plenty of markets that are literally waiting for us to arrive, including Bangladesh.
Market - Each city and country is different. It will be important for us to spend significant time in each market during our exploration and implementation phases to understand the cultural differences and how we should adapt our product. That said, this is one of the reasons we are eager to move to Dhaka. We want to be sure our product and systems are geared for scale-up globally, and are not over-engineered for Kenya. We don't believe this is the case, but that is why it's important for us to implement global pilots now across varying geographical settings.
How are you planning to overcome these barriers?
Our strategies for overcoming these barriers include:
Financial - We will continue to build out our investor network and apply for grants, like this one from Tiger IT Foundation, to help subsidize and support our initial launch costs.
Supply - We will do our research and ensure we only launch initial pilots in communities that need / are ready for our solution, like Bangladesh.
Market - We will hire locally to make sure our teams represent the pilot cities and countries, and we will ensure they are empowered in their unique ability to adapt our solution to work in their communities.
If you selected “My solution is already being implemented in Bangladesh,” please provide an overview of your current activities in the region.
If you selected “I am planning to expand my solution to Bangladesh,” please provide an overview of your expansion plans. What is the market opportunity for your business or product in Bangladesh?
We would start in Dhaka, a city of 10-million, where we project (based on our figures in Nairobi and global estimates) that there are at least 300,000 emergencies per year or 800+ emergencies per day throughout the city.
In our first year, we aim to capture 5% of the market, and double our coverage and capabilities each year thereafter to take on and handle more and more emergencies. Also in year-one, we will map 100% of all emergency departments, emergency services, and hospitals, including geo-coordinates and phone numbers, in order to not only get patients an ambulance quickly, but to route them to the right location for care.
Our 90-day plan is to identify and map all available ambulances in Dhaka, set up a dispatch center, launch a new instance of our tech and get our first 10 ambulances onto our system.
Within 6-months, we aim to take our first emergency call, make our first sales of the product (or evolving the product, based on needs) and begin to reduce response times.
By the end of year-1, we aim to be handling nearly 40 calls per day (same growth as what we have seen in Nairobi), be fully operational, and be looking to scale throughout the wider country.
Within 5-years, we aim to be saving nearly 75,000 lives per year in Dhaka alone, and will have moved into other towns throughout the country.
Select an option below:For-profit
If you selected Other for the organization question, please explain here.
How many people work on your solution team?
Full-time staff: 25
Part-time staff: 4
For how many years have you been working on your solution?
Why are you and your team best-placed to deliver this solution?
Flare has an exceptional leadership team and dedicated staff. Co-founders, Caitlin Dolkart and Maria Rabinovich, have worked on health and technology initiatives for over a decade. Caitlin received her MBA from MIT Sloan, and has a comprehensive understanding of health systems in low resource settings from years of managing the Clinton Health Access Initiative’s malaria work. A product designer and developer, Maria has spent her career working with corporates and technology startups in both New York and Nairobi, focusing on software development, product design, and strategy.
Together, they founded Flare, which today employs a dedicated team of experts in technology, health systems, and business development. They place a strong emphasis on hiring local talent, especially in leadership positions, and will continue to do as Flare scales into Bangladesh.
Flare’s initial success is a result of key global partnerships and mentors who have contributed to the design and development of the product, and who will be instrumental in our expansion phase. We received financial support from several organizations, including MIT with awards such as 100k Competition, IDEAS, and Legatum Center for Entrepreneurship. Our advisory board includes a specialist in logistics and transportation, a leader in one of the US’ largest ambulance providers who has set up ambulance companies in Argentina and Peru, a former director at International SOS, a political advisor, and tech & product leadership from Uber and Pivotal Labs.
With what organizations are you currently partnering, if any? How are you working with them?
Flare partners with ambulance providers, corporates, and local governments.
We would not be able to do the work that we do without our main partners - emergency response providers. Flare has over 500 ambulances on our wider network, and has mapped facilities across all of Kenya. We have information on the number of hospital beds in each facility, and level of care capacity for each ambulance. These partners do the incredible work of saving lives everyday, and we plan to establish the same types of partnerships, as we scale.
We work with large companies, such as factories and global rideshare technology companies, like Uber. In many cases, we partner with companies to provide bulk membership to employees who are at high risk of injury, such as drivers or factory workers. In other cases, we have integrated the Flare technology into rideshare apps. Now, drivers can simply press an SOS button on their app to receive emergency response from Flare.
What is your business model?
We offer our membership product, Rescue, to the populations we serve through three distinct coverage options to streamline sales. Facility-based membership covers throughput and traffic on a facility level. For example, a shopping mall or a hotel with this membership would receive emergency services for any patron while they are on the property. Employee member benefit covers all employees (and sometimes their families) in or outside of the company facility. Direct to consumer includes retail sales to families and individuals.
Our value proposition to each customer segment varies, but we structure packages as follows: 1) we offer facility or employee/member benefit packages to corporates and NGOs, and 2) we offer direct to consumer memberships to individuals, families and households.
We generate revenue primarily through the Rescue membership product. Additional revenue will come as we develop our new model of charging our key partners (ambulance, security, fire, and municipal partners) for premium enterprise features. The distribution channel of the membership is through our Rescue website, the app, and through corporate sales. For an individual, our membership cost structure is a fraction of an actual ambulance ride and ensures there are no payment delays in the event of a rescue.
Our key resources are our people, including customer relationships, and essential partnerships with ambulance providers, health professionals, governmental players, and businesses. Our key activities include horizontal and vertical growth, and our key partners, which include customers, advisors, and health sector professionals, are essential to this growth.
What is your path to financial sustainability?
Our revenue model is similar to that of insurance - each member contributes a small amount to support the overall system. Our membership costs $24/year. Each time someone uses an ambulance it costs the system $100, meaning we cover the cost with every fifth person. In reality, 1/100 members have an emergency and use the service in a given year, therefore our profit is $2,300 for every 100 members (100 * $24 = $2,400 - $100 = $2,300). Other costs, such as running our dispatch center and staff time, further reduce our margin to 67% on average.
We wanted the membership fee to be as affordable as possible in order to provide access to the greatest number of people. We ensured that the membership product costs cover our expenditures, and also tested the price in the market to get feedback. Setting the price less than $24/year made people question whether it would work, and setting it any higher would have made the service inaccessible. We will adjust this cost, as necessary, as we enter new markets
We expect to be cash flow positive by 2023. Until then, we expect to fund the deficit through grants, investments, and revenue. We have raised $4-million USD in convertible notes, and continue to raise and look for other options. It is not feasible to take on debt locally, but there are some governments abroad that have innovative financing options for early stage companies in emerging markets that we are exploring.
Why are you applying to the Tiger Challenge?
We are applying to the Tiger Challenge, as we feel it is the best opportunity to pilot our solution in a market that we have been interested in for years. If we had the resources, we would be fully prepared and ready to launch a pilot in Dhaka tomorrow. However, in order to be successful we know that we need to partner with a strong organization that can make our transition into this new market a bit easier. We aim to leverage the experience and networks at Tiger IT Foundation to be able to hire well, set up operations, and solicit local guidance, as we grow. Expertise and market knowledge are the two main drivers of working with the Tiger IT Foundation on this exciting expansion effort.
What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?
If you selected Other, please explain here.
With what organizations would you like to partner, and how would you like to partner with them?
We would love to partner with the Ministry of Health, Disaster Management Department, private and public hospitals, ambulance operators, telecom partners, and anyone operating in road safety and transportation. In order for this expansion effort to work, we know we need to get the buy-in, expertise, experience, and services of these key stakeholders. We believe Tiger IT Foundation can provide us with many of the connections necessary to accelerate the Flare solution in Bangladesh. We look forward to advancing emergency response capabilities in this part of the world with you!