Vancouver Startup: CommandWear – Situational Awareness Platform For First Responders

An over-reliance on voice communication often compromises mission success and, ultimately, puts responders’ lives at risk. CommandWear’s mobile and wearable situational awareness platform securely connects and monitors dispersed teams through a combination of sharing real-time GPS location tracking, vital monitoring, image sharing and secure messaging. The software helps first responders save lives - including their own.

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?

CommandWear Systems Inc. was started by Mike Morrow, a 26 year public safety software industry executive, who has led over 60 successful major public safety crisis management system projects around the globe. Mike is a former IBM System Engineer and Sales Rep turned entrepreneur with deep technical knowledge of GIS mapping and communication systems.

How are you being financed?

CommandWear has raised approximately $1 million through Angel financing since its launch in mid-2013 and is currently self-funding through major contracts. The company is contemplating opening a Seed round in 2018 to expedite penetration into lucrative international markets.

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?

Many first response agencies are skeptical of relying on cellular (or WiFi) networks and commercial smartphones/tablets for response operations. As broadband and smart devices become more broadly adopted and accepted, especially with rollout of FirstNet, applications like CommandWear will become standard kit.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?

CommandWear is based in Vancouver, B.C. (Canada) which has grown into a major tech hub in North America; however, many leading tech companies have entered the Vancouver market and are offering lucrative remuneration packages to snap-up top talent. Smaller companies like CommandWear rely on perks like flex time, work from home, stock options, making a positive contribution (e.g. helping save lives), and having a much larger impact on direction of the product. We find talent through tech meet-ups, online career sites like Indeed and word of mouth.

Who is your biggest competition?

Large dispatch vendors are extending access to their systems through mobile apps. Of course, this means their apps are typically proprietary (works only with their backend systems) and tend to be exponentially more expensive to license and maintain than an open software platform solution that can interoperate with multiple competing dispatch systems.

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in revenues? In what markets?

CommandWear has proven its technology through operational field deployments in North America and has its sights set on much more lucrative international markets facing increasing security threats and civil unrest. The company has already secured a major project in Southeast Asia and is seeking international distribution partners in its key market sectors. CommandWear also plans sees opportunities to expand into the much larger industrial, commercial and consumer markets.

What is the big lesson you've learned (success or failure) with this project.

The time and funding it takes to gain traction, especially in the North American public safety market. We've spent a great deal of time validating the business value of our technology with high profile champion customers. However, the extra time and investment to do things properly is a key to leveraging sales into the international market.