Nashua company, Ping4, touts new round of fundraisingBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
February 11. 2013 8:08PM
NASHUA - An emergency alert company announced Monday that it has collected $4 million in venture capital this year, raising a total of nearly $7 million in private placement since its inception.
Officials at Ping4, housed at 20 Cotton Road in Nashua, say this latest funding round is mostly from individual New Hampshire residents, not companies or statewide organizations. ?Ping4 is the creator of ping4alerts, a hyperlocal emergency alerts communications platform for smartphones that goes beyond conventional messaging capabilities, according to CEO Jim Bender.
More than half this year's investors are people who invested in a prior round, said Bender, who is excited about the newest success of Ping4's free mobile alerts app available for the iPhone and Android smartphones.
"We can think of dozens of things that we can do with this technology," Bender said. "But really, we want to raise enough money to become a global company - that is our goal. We are already starting to set up international distribution."
Alerts from Ping4 provide highly localized, rich-media hyperlocal alerts regarding geographically relevant dangers and emergencies that are in close proximity to smartphones using the app, wherever they may be at any given moment, according to a release.
The system has been deployed by several state emergency management agencies, police departments and educational institutions throughout the nation and here in New Hampshire. ?The University of New Hampshire was Ping4's first customer, followed by the Manchester Police Department, said Bender, adding the client base continues to grow as the company uses venture capital to perfect its product, add new features, develop a patent portfolio and create a world-class sales and marketing campaign.
"We have a terrific group of people who work here now, but we want to go to the next level," said Bender, who was a Republican primary candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2010. "By the end of the quarter we will have about 30 employees."
Ping4 alerts are unlike other alert notification systems because the app requires no information about the users who have downloaded it. Authorities can reach the smartphones without knowing private email accounts, street addresses or even phone numbers. ?It allows local authorities to reach temporary visitors to their jurisdiction whom they know nothing about, according to the release, adding the public can opt-in to receive these alerts while remaining completely anonymous.
"We have been able to raise another $4 million in private placement because our public safety alerts provide many capabilities not currently available in the marketplace," Bender said. "The future of disaster management is putting life-saving information in the hands of the public at the intersection of right here and right now."
Because the alerts are highly localized, users will not receive notifications that are not pertinent to their specific location.
This, according to Bender, prevents what he refers to as "alert fatigue."?For instance, if a child was reportedly abducted at the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, Ping4 alert can wake up any phone within a certain radius, allowing app users to listen to a police announcement notifying people of the situation while also providing them with a photograph of the missing child and even mall security footage - all in real time.
The app also enables the user to touch the screen of their phone to call back and report any necessary information.
"Imagine how much more effective that would be than how amber alerts are done now," Bender said.
As the company continues to expand, Bender is hopeful that he will be able to donate Ping4 services to agencies such as the American Red Cross and the World Health Organization to possibly help prevent catastrophes or mitigate damages from certain emergencies.