Three years ago, Brian Cruver launched AlertMedia as an emergency mass-notification provider.
Then he realized there was a much larger market for the Austin-based technology startup.
"Initially we thought of an emergency as a tornado or a gunman, which meant targeting schools and municipalities that need to send those alerts," Cruver said. "But then customers were signing up our service and using it as a day-to-day communication tool with employees. So we went in that direction, and today we're in extreme growth mode."
Since 2013, AlertMedia has signed several hundred customers in a range of industries including retail, energy, transportation, technology and professional services. Its client list ranges from small businesses -- including a golf course, a zoo and nursing homes -- to global brands like Volkswagen, Kellogg's, AT&T and DHL.
The company recently signed San Antonio-based grocery chain H-E-B, which will use AlertMedia to communicate with truckers and other workers.
Meanwhile, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is rolling out the communication system to 9,000 field workers, who will use it to communicate if they are in danger when meeting with clients.
AlertMedia lets customers deliver mass notifications by phone, text, social media and mobile apps to any type of device, from a smartphone to an iPad or PC. Workers can also message their employers, allowing them to quickly share information in fast-changing situations, such as power outages or logistics issues.
About 80 percent of customers use AlertMedia for non-emergency situations, said Cruver, an Austin entrepreneur who most recently co-founded and led Xenex Healthcare, which develops room disinfection technology for health care facilities.
Although the mass-notification technology market is crowded -- many companies were founded after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks highlighted the need for instant communication -- Cruver said AlertMedia's two-way system sets it apart.
"We're creating a whole different approach to communicating," he said. "Other messaging companies are focused on one-time, one-way blasts, while we're more focused on letting people interact and share information.”
The system is also designed to be easy to install and use.
"We had a business in Houston that needed to reach employees as a big storm hit. They found us online, did a demo, got the deal signed and were using the product in three hours without ever having heard of AlertMedia."
Ease of use is one reason Tex-Mix Concrete uses AlertMedia to communicate with its 200 employees spread across 11 locations.
"We've got a different schedule every day, and we really struggled to reach employees who are spread out in different locations and trucks," said CEO Logan
Owens. "AlertMedia has become our communications platform, and I can easily segment which groups of people I need to talk to in any situation. I can reach exactly who I need, and share information, very quickly and effectively."
As AlertMedia adds customers, it is also ramping up hiring and product development.
The company is backed by $9 million from investors including Silverton Partners, ATX Ventures and Capital Factory. The funding has helped the company grow from six employees last summer to 50
today, and it is hiring in areas including development, sales, marketing and customer support.
To accommodate its growing workforce, the company plans to move from its headquarters on Bee Cave Road to larger space in the next year.