October 16, 2017

When Disaster Strikes, Everbridge Is the Company That Helps Keep You Safe

When you think about companies in Massachusetts tech, what do you think of? You might think of big data, MarTech, or maybe something that improves your company’s state of cybersecurity. Everbridge is just a little different.

Everbridge is a company that keeps people safe and businesses running during critical events – all through their emergency notification system (ENS). And in a year plagued by a relentless stream of critical events, the Burlington-based company could not be offering their services at a better time.

Humble Beginnings

Everbridge was founded in the early 2000s by two LA-based entrepreneurs. They were trying to sell technology for the telecom industry. But then, tragedy struck: the September 11th attacks.

Post-9/11, the United States Department of Homeland Security was created to address the needs of civilians during critical times, and FEMA, formerly an independent agency, was absorbed by the DHS. In addition, state and local governments were given grant money to protect their citizens.

“A lot of money was put out there to help state and local governments be better prepared for similar events. When money became available, the Everbridge founders decided to pivot their product strategy,” said Jeff Lortz, Vice President of Everbridge Corporate Strategy and Operations.

The Everbridge founders took their pre-existing technology and built a new application on top of it that allowed first responders to communicate quickly during emergencies. This was the birth of the first Emergency Notification System (ENS). They sold this technology to local governments and, over time, expanded from first responder communications to citizen communications, which Lortz notes is a much larger challenge.

Everbridge would then enjoy years of steady growth and expansion. While the company’s business continued to focus on sending out emergency notifications, the audience for such technology got larger. Starting out as a public safety utility, they expanded into other industry verticals like financial services, technology, higher education and healthcare.

Investment for Growth

As the need for this type of platform grew, so too did the level of competition. In an effort to keep their lead in the market, Everbridge raised venture funding and a member of the board, Jaime Ellertson, became CEO.

Everbridge rebuilt their platform to be much more flexible and modular. This allowed Everbridge to improve its ENS capabilities while expanding its offering, greatly.

“We basically rebuilt the company on its original foundation, but we built it more significantly so that we can scale it going into the future.”

The current Everbridge SaaS platform can deliver notifications via a variety of methods like SMS, voice, email, digital signage, PC alert systems, and others. This modular approach helps ensure that there are reliable communication options during a major incident.

While the platform was built for state and local governments, the company has built a strong business services audience as well. Companies use Everbridge as a way to track how incidents might affect supply chains and employee travel plans, while adjusting accordingly.

While visiting Everbridge’s headquarters, I was also able to take a tour of their Global Operations Center. It looks just like the movies – a dark room with a dedicated team and giant wall of monitors. They’re always watching, and always ready to help their customers respond to threats.

Global Operations Center
The Global Operations Center in action.

Everbridge no longer sees themselves as an ENS company – now they’re a “Critical Event Management” company.

“The ENS component is at its core, but now we present ourselves as a suite of applications built on a common communication platform. When we sell our platform to a corporation, we used to talk to the person in charge of business continuity, who needed to get an email out in case there was going to be a snow day. Today, we sell to chief security officers and risk officers. We help provide them with a common operating platform to manage their risk events.”

Safety in Action - Hurricane Irma

Lortz says that Everbridge measures the size of its customers by how many unique contacts they have, and the State of Florida is the largest of all. The number of contacts is so large in Florida that the state has it’s own dedicated technical account manager, who lives there and operates as an Everbridge employee to service that account. That person works with Florida’s counties – as well as the state’s emergency operations – to provide onsite support.

When Florida activated their emergency operations center (a place that all state and local governments have that activates whenever the threat level changes) for Hurricane Irma, the technical account manager was actively involved as part of the response team.

The operations center is often activated a few days before an event is expected to occur. In Irma’s case, it was 4-5 days before the event. Naturally, Everbridge went all hands on deck.

“If you go back and look at the profile of notifications through Irma, there’s not a lot of notifications that happened during the actual event. At that point, there’s nothing left to be said; it’s all in the preparation and recovery part of it.”

Over 20 million messages were sent by Everbridge during Hurricane Irma to keep people safe, but the storm only reflected 29% of what the company had to deal with during that time (in total it sent over 70 million message during this time period). For reference, Everbridge sent out over 1.5 billion messages in 2016.

Even more recently, Everbridge was actively involved in the wildfires that ripped through the Wine Valley in California. The company’s Nixle solution, a community engagement platform used by over 7,500 public safety agencies, has been used to send over 5.5 million messages related to the fires. At one point, over 15,000 individuals were opting in to receive these alerts via SMS each hour.

Looking Forward

Since their IPO last September, Everbridge finds itself growing at a strong clip (35% revenue growth according to its most recent quarterly earnings announcement), and has contracts with nearly 40% of state and local governments – including a recently-announced deal with the State of New York.

Things are going well from a business perspective, Lortz says, but he notes that the pressure is still on the company to deliver.

“When it comes to providing a service where millions of people are counting on you to deliver messages in critical situations, you have a unique reason to get out of bed in the morning and execute well as an employee. It binds the team together, and it creates a higher purpose,” Lortz said.

Everbridge maintains over 550 employees, and is looking to maintain their growth well into the future, both organically and inorganically. Despite their impressive growth, Jeff Benanto, Everbridge’s Director of Corporate Communications, says that it’s not the main thing on their minds.

“You don’t hear as much buzz about quarterly performance around here. You hear about what’s going on with the actual product out there in the wild, and how customers are using it. When missing children get found because someone got the alert on their phone, that’s what generates excitement around here.”

Images courtesy of Everbridge.

Alexander Culafi is a Staff Writer for VentureFizz. You can follow him on Twitter @culafia.​