A problem humans confront far too often is our inability or our unwillingness to consider emergencies or crises in our own lives. We never think that the ambulance or fire engine racing to help others may one day have to help us, and so we’re entirely unprepared for the situation when it arises. Also, some of us, like me, are basically paralyzed when it comes to life threatening situations.
Fortunately, others have done the hard work of making it easier for us to be prepared for emergencies. I recently spoke with Paolo Piscatelli, CEO of Rescu, a San Diego-based business helping to connect users with the responders that can ultimately help save their lives in an emergency situation. Rescu is a shortcut in communicating when time is of the essence, and Paolo’s very personal experience with the issue informs the mission of the company.
Mary Juetten: When did you start?
Paolo Piscatelli: In 2016, when my father, Paul, had a medical emergency and called 9-1-1, pain made it near impossible for him to talk, delaying the arrival of an ambulance. My dad eventually got the medical attention he needed and after he recovered, we were inspired to create a solution that offered a faster way to get help. In 2017, we created the Rescu app that eliminates the time wasted communicating address and personal information to traditional 9-1-1 verbally on a phone call. Instead, location and other data can be pre-programmed into the app, and Rescu offers the ability to select the nature of the emergency, Fire, Police, or Ambulance services, with just one click. The app also automatically sends a text message instantly notifying family members and emergency contacts. Now, we have launched nationwide in partnership with over 30,000 local emergency agencies.
Juetten: What problem are you solving?
Piscatelli: Rescu is solving latent and slow emergency response times due to lack of information and inefficient communication. Rescu’s mobile app enables users to control when and where they need emergency response, with only two taps on the smartphone screen. Rescu connects you directly to certified emergency dispatchers. Allowing you to quickly send for help from anywhere, and automatically alert your emergency contacts so they can respond appropriately. 9-1-1 isn’t always as fast as you’d expect. And based on your needs or location, you might be rerouted or placed in a waiting queue. Rescu makes it easy to send for help at the first sign of an emergency.
Juetten: Who are your customers and how do you find them?
Piscatelli: We have a few different customers: senior citizens, those with higher risk medical conditions, and users with security smart home technology. Military families have also taken a liking to our application; when they are working afar or on deployment, Rescu is a great tool to use for them. For similar reasons, Rescu is popular with parents of children attending schools/universities.
With Rescu’s Prime subscription and GPS feature, launching next month, Rescu will be a great fit for outdoor enthusiasts who might need fast emergency response if they are camping, on a hike or enjoying our beautiful national parks.
Another community that really loves Rescu is the hard of hearing community; HoH communities don’t have access to efficient nor effective means of getting help during an emergency.
Juetten: How did past projects and/or experience help with this new project?
Piscatelli: I grew up in the Emergency Monitoring business. Thirty-four years ago when I was an infant, we actually had a private dispatch center in our garage! First Response and Public Safety dispatch isn’t just my nine-to-five, it runs in my family and is an important part of my story. In 2016, when my Dad had a medical emergency and it took 45 minutes for the ambulance to arrive, I knew we had to do something to make it better for those who need help.
Juetten: Who is on your team?
Piscatelli: We have over 60 people employed full time that range from dispatch, compliance, licensing, software, technology, customer service and support.
Juetten: Did you raise money?
Piscatelli: Rescu is privately funded and operated. We are always open to the opportunity to partner with those who share the same vision for better safety.
Juetten: Startups are an adventure — what’s your favorite startup story?
Piscatelli: The story about the founders of PayPal (or the “PayPal Mafia”) would have to be one of my favorite stories about start-ups. The perseverance, decisions, and innovations within that story is remarkable. Also, anything with Peter Thiel and Elon Musk is such a treat to witness and learn from.
Juetten: How do you measure success and what is your favorite success story?
Piscatelli: At Rescu, we measure success by providing value to our community and saving their life. In a moment’s notice, a great day can turn into your worst day. Our teams stand guard 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, ready to respond and send life saving help when our community needs it most.
Outside of Rescu, Alan Mullaly and his turnaround success story of Ford Motors is outstanding! Alan Mullaly was one of the leaders and highly effective managers we studied in Business School. Mullaly was the COO of Boeing in the mid-2000s. Mullaly received the opportunity and task to turn a struggling and nearly bankrupt Ford Motors around. He became the CEO in 2006, just before the 2008 recession, when things weren’t looking good for the company.
However, with Alan Mullaly’s leadership style, he gave Ford a vision and a comprehensive plan and they executed against that vision for a tremendous turnaround bringing forth healthy revenue and innovation within the automotive and trucking industry. Mullaly had to improve company culture, sales, operations and really everything in between. Mullaly has written books, processes and is credited for many quotes about companies and leadership. One of them I remember and love is this one: “Leadership is having a compelling vision, a comprehensive plan, relentless implementation, and talented people working together.”
The biggest change Mullaly wrought at Ford was “Culture”. In the early days, the main challenge he faced was to persuade managers to work together, instead of focusing on internal rivalries, and to tackle problems head-on rather than avoid responsibility. The moment he knew that task had been achieved, he says, came when managers started showing up for meetings with evidence of failures and asking for help, rather than pretending problems did not exist.
All companies and start-ups face many challenges, and one of the biggest is human and company culture. Sure, revenue and profitability growth is phenomenal. However, at Rescu we believe that success amongst each other and our culture can really bring success anywhere. Mullaly and Ford is a prime example of that.
Juetten: Any tips to add for early-stage founders or CEOs in growth mode?
Piscatelli: Get help! Ask for it! Find other leaders and businesses in your local area looking to accomplish the same thing you are. For me, it was finding a group of other CEOs who wanted to grow as leaders and grow their organizations. I would also add that high emotional intelligence, empathy and perseverance will help any leader looking to grow. If you can acquire these skills, they will help you on your journey to success.
Juetten: What’s the long-term vision for your company?
Piscatelli: The long term vision for Rescu is to be the number one safety, communication and response software in the world. When you need help in an emergency, everyone should have access to Rescu — it could save yours or a loved one’s life.
Health and safety can be taken for granted, as are those who help preserve both, so making it easier to get help quickly to those who need it is a vital mission. I personally love the simplicity of this approach and with almost everyone owning a smartphone, it’s brilliant. Also, I echo the notion that if you don’t ask, you don’t get! #onwards.
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