What do you do when an emergency strikes at your organization? In the past, your options were limited. Maybe you call the police, hit the campus panic button, or wait for someone to announce an issue over the intercom. This Charlotte company is trying to make the system work better.
Punch Alert was founded by Greg Artzt, Carole Tobias and Andrew Prisk in 2014 to try to combat the issue of organizational safety.
They noticed at most organizations, there wasn’t a system in place for everyone involved and affected by an emergency to communicate with each other.
“Safety is not considered a sexy challenge to tackle,” Artzt, who serves as the company’s CEO, said. “There aren’t many well-funded companies working on this.”
Artzt cites recent school shootings, including the tragic 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting as evidence that schools and other organizations need a more effective emergency communication system.
Punch Alert helps organizations through the entire lifecycle of an emergency, from the initial tip-off to communications between responders to organization-wide messaging. Users can submit new, relevant information and communication is streamlined between thousands of people.
“It’s not replacing 911. Our customers create internal responder teams that can receive alerts, communicate with each other, manage incidents, and decide if and when they need to escalate to the police or release as mass notifications. This structure allows them to use the product on a regular basis for all kinds of incidents including drills where there is no need to get the police involved. The product empowers a very much collaborative approach to safety.”
“And that’s really our vision with Punch Alert… to build a community of safety” Artzt said.
So far, Punch Alert is represented in every vertical. They’re in a number of K-12 schools in Charlotte, including Providence Day School and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
“The great thing about Charlotte, because it’s not a huge city, is that it’s open minded, and as a result, we’ve been able to work with many types of customers, including the police,” Artzt said.
Punch alert also works with Carolinas Healthcare system, the Hornets basketball team, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Association and the YMCA Charlotte, and hope to move into other YMCAs across the country.
Punch Alert is free for police, firefighters and other first responders, as well as public users. Organizations can choose from the free Lite version, the $2 per user per month Premium version or a customized Enterprise version of the software.
Similar companies to Punch Alert exist, but they usually focus on just the end-user and don’t try to work with the first responders and organizations. The community aspect of Punch Alert is what makes this product stickier than some others, Artzt said.
Punch Alert has a team of about eight people, Artzt included. They went through one round of funding early on, and a second one is wrapping up soon. Punch Alert works closely with CNP Technologies, a business technologies firm in Charlotte. The Punch Alert team tends to work remotely, but they have an office on Tyvola that they sublet from CNP.
So far, 99% of Punch alert’s usage has been with employees, with only a little usage by the public in the form of text alerts. They’re currently redesigning the app, to come out in April or May, to be a little more friendly to the public.
For more information, or to request a free trial, visit www.punchalert.com.