This ex-Israeli commando is betting $ 16 million of his own money that people will use his app instead of calling the police

Once the second command of Israel’s version of Delta Force, Doran Kempel created and sold the two tech companies for a combined $ 850 million. He now sees financial opportunities in public safety.

HAzel Carrasquillo was riding the bus Late one night in March, he came home from work when a distraught man shouted at him. As she began to close her stop, the man also landed in a suburb of Chicago, leaving her feeling insecure.

Instead of calling the police, she used an app on her phone to video-call a private security service, who lived on the line with her until she went home. If anything happens, the video was being recorded, and the agent could call the police at his place.
At a time when people are on high alert, yet possibly hesitant to call the police, a new app called Our Bond aims to provide a sense of security in situations that are “under the 911 emergency line” , Says founder Doran Kempel. Carrasquillo, which arrived home safely, is one of about 150,000 people using the software, which launched nationally in November of 2019.

“Israeli Special Forces soldier-based tech entrepreneur” Kempel, 57, says, “The authorities, with our tax dollars, cannot afford to set up a platform that allows all of us to reach them when we feel uncomfortable.” ” “We call it a personal safety difference.”

The New York-based company employs call center employees who communicate with users with text, video, or audio. For example, in the event of domestic violence a person may not be able to call the police safely. Instead, they could ask one of Bond’s representatives to recite them carefully.

“Officials, with our tax dollars, cannot afford to set a stage that allows all of us to reach them when we feel uncomfortable.”

Doran Kempel, Founder and CEO, Bond

At first glance, Bond appears to target a murderer of a niche market. After all, how many people find themselves in unsafe situations so often that they are willing to pay for an app for peace of mind? So far, only 10% of bond users or about 15,000 people are paying about $ 10 per month for the service, generating an estimated $ 1.5 million in revenue.

But there are some reasons to take Bond seriously. First, “public safety” apps such as Citizen, a voyeuristic crime tracking app, and NextDoor, a hyper-local neighborhood social media network, have become quite popular; Citizen has over 6 million users after raising nearly $ 6 billion and NextDoor now operates in 10 countries. Second, the founders of Bond are betting big on their own track record that they can build a successful company.
So far, Kempel has poured $ 16.5 million of his own money into bonds, which he started developing in 2017. He has raised $ 55.5 million in equity from other investors and loans from other investors, including a firm owned by eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar and Jerusalem Venture Partners. . Despite laying off 50 of the company’s 150 employees due to the Kovid-19 epidemic earlier this year, Kempel says he has started working again and still has more than 500,000 active users by the end of the year The platform is expected to grow. “It’s a new paradigm,” Kempel says. “New paradigms take time for people to understand and adopt.”

Kempel’s backstory deserves a screenplay. Kempel, born and raised in Israel, spent 13 years with the Israel Defense Forces, where he moved on to the second-in-command of the Special Forces unit, the Rough counterpart of America’s Delta Force unit. In 1992, he led Operation Bumble Bush, which aimed to assassinate Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein; He said that five people were killed during the operation, who were killed during the last rehearsal. Forbes in 2013.

Rise of neighborhood security apps

Such platforms are causing concern. How to compare bonds:

In 1994, his focus shifted to the corporate world and he was admitted to Harvard Business School, where he led paramilitary leadership to run the business. He became a vice president at Dell EMC before launching two software companies. One of those companies, Diligent Technologies, which makes software to help corporate board meetings, was sold to IBM in 2008 for about $ 200 million. Another firm, SimpleiVity Corporation, which makes cost-saving software for data centers, was sold to Hewewt Packard. Enterprise in 2017 for $ 650 million. Soon after selling SimpVT, Kempel says he began working on the bond. “I don’t need holidays,” Kempel says.

Bond remained in development for nearly two years when it began testing the app in an undisclosed Connecticut city in 2019 before launching nationwide in November. In addition to communication, one of the main features of the platform is an alleged artificial intelligence device, called “Track My Walk”, which can detect whether a user has walked or been in a moving vehicle; Unexpected changes in the movement will prompt a bond representative to check-in with a customer or call police.
One possible issue: data privacy. Although Bond’s privacy policy promised never to share customer data externally, the policy also stated that it could use audio and video recordings for advertising and other purposes without user permission. After Forbes inquired about the contradiction, Bond rewrote the policy to require the customer’s consent.

Another early concern is the role of Bond, a private security company operating in a stressful environment, usually reserved for 911 dispatchers and emergency employees. As a private company, bonds are not subject to transparency laws that govern the behavior of public officials and government agencies; Calls between its users and representatives cannot be accessed publicly, says Cade Crockford, who heads the American Civil Liberties Union’s Technology for Liberal program. “There are a lot of red flags here.”

As if anticipating concerns over privacy, Bond has established ties to law enforcement, and hires high-ranking former police officers to advise the company to comply with local laws. Ed Davis, who was commissioner of the Boston Police Department from 2006 to 2013, is among those advising Bond. Davis explains that Bond’s call center workers, called “security agents,” receive four weeks of training, including 911 dispatchers. He also dismissed concerns of transparency and said privatization in the policing sector had been going on for decades. “[Bond] Technology takes into the equation, ”says Davis. “This is the next stage of that process.”
Beyond individuals, Bond says it is pitching multinational corporations and organizations to provide wholesale membership to its employees (Kempel says they have contracts with “fewer than 10” enterprise customers so far, But they are declined to disclose.) And the company is expanding on its offering. -Security Agents: The app now provides roadside assistance and can make Uber or Lyft calls at the user’s location.

For customers like Carrascillo, 30, who were provided by the company, using bonds has become a daily routine; She uses the platform so often that she gets to know some call center workers. As an anxious person, she says, the “Track My Walk” feature removes any worries that she may have for a late home visit from work. She says: “I’m super cautious.”

Get Forbes daily top headlines right in your inbox. For the world’s most important entrepreneurs and superstars, expert career advice and news on success secrets.