If an accident was to occur right now, most likely the injured would be ferried away in the back seat of a Good Samaritan’s car. Imagine a Kenya where emergency response services are only minutes away. This vision is what the Flare Platform is built on. The following is a Q&A session that Crossover Kenya had with Flare.
Crossover Kenya: How did the company start?
Flare:When we met, we were both working in healthcare in Kenya for a number of years, Caitlin in operations and business and me (Maria) in healthcare technology and product development. In that work, we identified a massive need to reduce response times in emergency situations, as well as connect people to the right emergency medical professionals. We didn’t know how to solve the problem at first, but through meetings and talks with our ambulance company partners, we designed the Flare platform. So about two years ago, we decided to drop everything else and focus exclusively on making this happen.
Crossover Kenya: How does it work? Is it like a dispatch service?
Flare: We recently launched Rescue (https://rescue.co.ke) – a dispatch service that connects you to all of the different medical responders on our platform. With a Rescue membership, you no longer need to call countless numbers to find nearby or available ambulances. You just call one number, and we direct you to the best and closest responders from the largest network of ambulances in Nairobi, by far.
To create this network, we’ve been collaborating with Nairobi’s best first responders and we are working with users and friends at Aga Khan, Kenyatta National Hospital, Coptic, and several other hospitals, as well as the Emergency Medicine Kenya Foundation, our friends at MSF, the National Disaster Management Unit, and our team of medical and EMS advisors. We’re trying to weave together the entire emergency response ecosystem so that if you ever have an issue, we instantly bring the best people together to coordinate your response plan. The system is a lot more than just our dispatch center: it’s a county-wide, and soon (to be) country-wide, network of professionals linked together in real-time with the Flare technology.
Crossover Kenya: Who is being targeted? Do the emergency response teams register with you? Does someone subscribe to your service?
Flare: Several emergency response teams and companies actually worked with us to develop and design the system from the beginning, but new teams are also signing up every week, meaning the network of ambulances, and soon fire responders, is growing steadily.
On your end, you need to register at rescue.co.ke. You can register as an individual, a family, a household, a group, or a corporate.
Once you register and pay a one-time fee for the year, rescues are organized and totally covered by us. And we’ve made registration as affordable as possible.
Crossover Kenya: How do you generate revenue?
Flare: We generate revenue through the Rescue memberships. Most of the money will go to the emergency responders who provide the rescues as they come up. By covering the rescues for our members, and guaranteeing payment to the first-response professionals on our system, we are helping them spend less time on payment collection, especially in an emergency.
Crossover Kenya: Plans for the future.
Flare: We plan to just keep going – continuing to build partnerships and continuing to work with our current partners to further reduce response times and further improve access to and coordination of emergency response. We’ve done a lot in a short time, mostly because of the size of our network and the experience of the professionals we’ve been working with, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Our goal is that no matter where you are, or who you are, emergency response is only minutes away.
Crossover Kenya: A piece of advice for budding entrepreneurs.
Flare: We are learning so much on this journey. And it is early days, so we really are not in a position to be dishing out advice. We have been keeping track of the lessons we’ve learned and here the three biggest things we’re trying to live by:
- Seek all of the advice that you can get but don’t listen to everyone. When something isn’t working, it’s important to call it as fast as possible – so you can move on to try something else. We’re learning to listen to ourselves more and more. Sometimes this has led us to try something completely different from what we learned to be the “normal” way. And it has paid off!
- The team is everything. Having this team in place, with whom we share these fundamental goals and convictions has been critical. It will take time, but with the right team and our shared commitment, it really feels like we can do anything.
And 3. There’s so much we want to do and it can get overwhelming and exhausting, but this is also the most rewarding part of entrepreneurship. So that’s my last piece of advice: If you have a passion for what you’re doing, and you get a chance to work on it, definitely go for it.