This Ex-Israeli Commando Is Betting $16 Million Of His Own Money That People Will Use His App Rather Than Calling The Cops

Hazel Carrasquillo was riding the bus home from work late one night in March when a distressed seeming man began shouting at her.

9/13/2020 11:58:00 PM

Once second-in-command of Israel’s version of Delta Force, Doron Kempel built and sold two tech companies for a combined $850 million. Now he sees financial opportunity in public safety by DavidJeans2

Hazel Carrasquillo was riding the bus home from work late one night in March when a distressed seeming man began shouting at her.

Hazel Carrasquillo was riding the bushome from work late one night in March when a distressed seeming man began shouting at her. When she got off her stop, in a Chicago suburb, the man also got off, making her feel unsafe.Rather than call the police, she used an app on her phone to video-call a private security service that stayed on the line with her until she got home. If something did happen, the video was being recorded, and the agent could call the police to her location. 

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At a time when people are on high alert, yet possibly hesitant to call the police, a new app called Our Bond is aiming to provide a sense of security to those in situations that occur “below the 911 emergency line,” says founder Doron Kempel. Carrasquillo, who reached home safely, is one of about 150,000 people using the software, which launched nationally in November of 2019.

“The authorities, with our tax dollars, cannot afford to establish a platform that allows all of us to reach out to them when we feel uncomfortable,” says 57-year-old Kempel, a decorated Israeli special forces soldier-turned tech entrepreneur. “We call it the personal security gap.”

The New York-based company employs call center workers who communicate with users with text, video or audio. Someone in a domestic violence situation, for example, might not be able to safely call the police. Instead, they could discreetly text one of Bond’s representatives asking them to call the cops.

“The authorities, with our tax dollars, cannot afford to establish a platform that allows all of us to reach out to them when we feel uncomfortable.”Doron Kempel, founder and CEO, BondOn first glance, Bond appears to be targeting a sliver of a niche market. After all, how many people find themselves in unsafe situations so frequently that they are willing to pay for an app for peace of mind? So far, only 10% of Bond’s users, or around 15,000 people, are paying about $10 a month for the service, generating estimated revenues of $1.5 million. 

But there are a few reasons to take Bond seriously. First, “public safety” apps like Citizen, a voyeuristic crime tracking app, and NextDoor, a hyper-local neighborhood social media network have become enormously popular; Citizen has more than 6 million users and NextDoor now operates in 10 countries after raising almost half a billion dollars. Second, Bond’s founder is betting big on his own track record that he can build a successful company.

So far, Kempel has put $16.5 million million of his own money into Bond, which he began developing in 2017. He has raised another $55.5 million in equity and debt 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 workers earlier this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Kempel says he has begun rehiring and still hopes to grow the platform to more than 500,000 active users by the end of the year.  “This is a new paradigm,” Kempel says. “New paradigms take time for people to understand and adopt.”

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DavidJeans2 Is there any coincidence that he has the same first name and looks a little like the lead character in Fauda? (This is a rhetorical question. I don't expect Forbes to provide an answer.)

This Ex-Israeli Commando Is Betting $16 Million Of His Own Money That People Will Use His App Rather Than Calling The CopsHazel Carrasquillo was riding the bus home from work late one night in March when a distressed seeming man began shouting at her. So .... pay a middle man to call the cops for you? I’m intrigued but I don’t think that most people would pay $10 a month. What could go wrong

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