Provided by The Plain Dealer
Written by Frank Bentayou
Cuyahoga Falls-based Inspiron Logistics LLC, which sells wireless emergency notification systems based on text messaging, has received $400,000 from JumpStart Inc. to expand marketing and further develop its novel service.
Inspiron's system can send emergency messages on a secured priority status to cell phones operating on any North American cellular carrier's network, the company said.
The messages could target all the employees of a company, members of a college campus or residents of a particular town or a county.
In its two years of operation, Inspiron has amassed a variety of clients, including city governments, school systems, and colleges and universities.
Among current subscribers are the University of Akron, the city of Fairlawn, Miami Dade County in Florida and many more communities.
The idea for a text-message-based emergency notification system came to Scott Dettling, founder and president of the company, while he was working as a software consultant in Washington, D.C., more than two years ago.
"People sometimes had to evacuate offices there because of some terrorist threat," he said. "It occurred to me that there was no reliable way to get word to everyone in a company about what was going on," Dettling said.
Tech-savvy Dettling, 34, an Akron native, knew that the communications protocols for text messaging function in cell phones even when calls exceed a network's capacity. Text messages require only a tiny proportion of the bandwidth voice messages need, he said, and operate "even when you can't get a line."
He conceived of a system in which certain individuals in a network could generate instant messages to all the network's users with a simple keystroke. Such messages, Dettling believes, can be lifesavers in certain circumstances: a deranged gunman on a college campus, for instance, or a blackout in a municipality.
He strongly urges message gatekeepers not to send emergency messages out with "happy birthday" greetings. "That would desensitize people to the importance of these warnings."
Dettling, interviewed by phone from Tennessee, where he was visiting a potential client, said he foresees a company that could serve all manner of communities. They could include emergency first-responders who need reliable communications gear.
The privately held company already has become profitable, according to Dettling, with annual sales "now over seven figures." He expects Inspiron to generate $30 million in annual revenue within five years.
The Summit County company will use part of the JumpStart investment to add features and to refine its systems. In addition, a JumpStart consultant will work with Inspiron's management, advising it during its expected growth phase in the years to come.
JumpStart is a nonprofit, early-stage business investment firm focused on entrepreneurial efforts in Northeast Ohio. JumpStart has made 35 investments in 25 companies.