Selling tech to keep people safe from the worst

There are some products and services that organizations need to purchase, but hope they never have to actually use. To learn more about how to sell security systems and other products that keep people safe in the worst situations, we spoke with Douglas Britt, senior vice president of product at Patrocinium.

ABERMAN: Tell us a bit about Patrocinium’s product.

BRITT: So, our product is a next generation, 4D platform for security and crisis management. So, with a number of patents in the area, what we’re trying to do is provide both 2D and 3D kits to allow enterprises to know everything that’s going on in their facility or property space, and be able to do real time crisis management when something occurs. So, duty of care, the ability to protect folks when they’re on property, have a good understanding of location awareness, and be able to quickly manage their staff and communicate with first respondents when they show up on site.

ABERMAN: Which, in a situation like a fire, or an active shooter, or a hurricane, or tornado coming, knowing where people are, and where they’re clustered, is probably the most important information you can have, and if you don’t know that, you can’t solve that problem.

BRITT: We think so. We have worked, and the other piece we’ve seen is, prior in the market, there were a lot of very custom tools with, you know, very custom finite G.P.S. But we wanted to build a tool that used the resources that were in everyday working environments, for both our customers and their employees and public staff, who may be on site. So, you know, we had to start cell phone out. So, the idea that we could pull the location properly and accurately from the phone, and put that into our dashboard mechanism, to let an operator know, in real time, where someone is.

And one of the unique pieces that we’ve worked on is the ability not just to do that in a two dimensional view, which you know, fairly prevalent today, but the ability to do that in a three dimensional view. So, using what we think is some unique technologies, we’re able to show that, stacked from floor 1 through floor 100, in your building environment. And that, we think, is a great differentiator today, where, you know, when you only have 2D technology, and doing 2D G.P.S. coordinates, that’s not giving you a full picture of what’s going on.

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ABERMAN: So, full disclosure, a number of years ago, over 10, I, with some partners, seeded a business that was doing 2D measurement of spaces. And we found it was very hard to sell. It’s very hard to make people understand. We were trying to get school districts and universities to buy it. And this is what I found really interesting about this, Douglas, is, when I look at your background, what I see is somebody who’s worked for major international brands, selling consumer-oriented products. And yet, now you’re selling a product where the likely most important buyer is the consumer, but consumers don’t like thinking about bad things. So, how do you take something like this, and who do you sell it to?

BRITT: Yeah, that’s a great question. And you know, that groundswell of public desire is always a great impetus. But, you know, from a target customer base, we’re looking at commercial real estate, we’re looking at venues, large stadiums, hospitality, casinos, state and local and education markets, enterprises that have a real duty of care to both their employees and public when they’re on site. And the idea that they have, you know, the responsibility for ensuring the safety, they’ve got risk and liability that may come with that. But you know, the idea they have to be proactive in taking an approach to security on their property.

ABERMAN: I think that’s the key. And, to my mind, one of the things that I find really helps businesses grow here in the D.C. region, which is, there are a lot of places in our society where there are liabilities, legal liabilities, statutory obligations, to do something a certain way. And that clearly is the case here. If you don’t have a plan for dealing with these crises, and people get harmed, you can face, you meaning the board of directors, you can face personal financial liability, and the company can.

Is this a situation where a business like yours is more likely to grow because of proximity to the regulators that you end up with better insight? Or is it the proximity to places like the Department of Homeland Security, that provides grants for these type of things? Why D.C. for businesses like this?

BRITT: John South, our founder, is from the area, and certainly a key driving here, and he comes from that deep background. He’s got a military background, law enforcement, but had worked closely with Department of Defense, Department of State. You know, that awareness, and that sort of background knowledge that’s driven a lot of the early investment in physical security, certainly comes from this area. A lot of it, very much defense driven, and a lot of the R&D you’ve seen in things like location awareness and G.P.S. investment comes out of this area.

That’s exactly right. For us, though, we’re very much thinking about it as a global opportunity. The need is greater today than it’s ever been. You know, and the regulatory component you talk about, the Safety Act, and Trip, and some of the insurance elements, continues to be a difficult landscape for our customers to understand and manage. But, they know they’ve got a responsibility, and the investment that they’re making continues.

And if it’s driven by, you know, the terrible statistics, but you know, with over 15,000 fires in the last year in commercial properties, you know, nearly 300 active shooting incidents in the last 12 months, and you know, 50 plus terrorism events in the last decade. They continue to make heavy investment, both in the soft assets of more and more people to manage physical security, but even more so in the tangible investment in technologies. Beaconing cameras, door and alarm sensors, and what we’re seeing is, that investment has just caused more and more complexity.

ABERMAN: I really appreciate you coming in today, Douglas, and talking about your experience. I think that our region is often criticized for not having enough product-oriented people, and it’s great to have a homegrown resource like you growing a great business. So, thanks for joining us today.

BRITT: Absolutely Jonathan, thank you so much for having us.

ABERMAN: Douglas Britt, senior vice president of product at Patrocinium.

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