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Friday, Jun 14, 2024

Creating A World View

Tech startup RippleNami Inc. has developed a cloud-based, map-making tool that could significantly improve the way relief agencies, corporations and governments monitor and respond to global events.

The app (which can be downloaded to tablets, smartphones and laptops) can be used to chart things such as natural threats and terrorist activity, along with customizable data that’s relevant to an organization’s objectives.

It is constantly updated with real-time data that can better equip organizations to make decisions, especially in remote areas of the world.

RippleNami was founded in February 2015 with funds from big-name investors such as Malin Burnham, a real estate veteran and philanthropist, and Peter

Farrell, the founder of the billion-dollar medical device company ResMed Inc. It has already landed multiple major contracts.

Subscription Fee for SaaS

The company makes money by charging a subscription fee for its software-as-a-service platform, generating revenue based on a pay-per-multiple-user pricing model. The total value of the contracts, which range from one to three years in length, is paid upfront as soon as the technology is implemented.

The company’s first deal was signed (just one month after the technology’s release) with Nuru International, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that aims to end extreme poverty in remote and rural areas. Nuru is customizing RippleNami’s tool to carry regional information related to health care, financing, agriculture and education to help support 87,000 people who need access to humanitarian aid across Kenya and Ethiopia.

Equipping NGOs

Jaye Connolly-LaBelle, president and chief operating officer of RippleNami, said the company is primarily focused on offering the tool to nonprofits and NGOs working in developing countries — especially in Africa. One major reason for that is the high number of humanitarian aid groups that are trying to deliver food, water and other resources to these regions, with few operational tools to make the deliveries go smoothly.

Connolly-LaBelle said that many of these groups who are receiving aid are nomadic, moving around so frequently that nonprofits and government organizations lose track of their whereabouts.

“Planes loaded with thousands of gallons of water land at deserted sites, and trucks of food literally just rot on roads,” Connolly-LaBelle said.

RippleNami’s platform can help NGOs keep track of aid recipients to make these deliveries go more smoothly. Most developing nations have skipped over the landline era, with individuals operating strictly on mobile devices. This means that RippleNami’s app can be installed on villagers’ cellphones so that NGOs can keep tabs on nomadic groups.

But more than tracking GPS coordinates, RippleNami’s app can pull in data sets used by agencies such as Interpol and the CIA to track global natural threats, African conflict zones and local terrorist activities. This helps NGOs map out safe landing sites and travel routes. Organizations using the app can also pull in their own data sets, such as the locations of their assets (vehicles, crops, oil, etc.).

“The RippleNami platform can apply to community development in remote places such as parts of Africa, where IT specialists may not be available and are not required to support the solution,” Farrell said. “Detailed information, specific to an organization’s explicit needs and circumstances, is clearly visualized, in an easily accessible user interface to help solve local problems. I believe the platform could be a real boon, among other things, for the developing world.” Operations Management

RippleNami’s visualization platform is more than just real-time Big Data refreshing on a map. The app can also be used as a cloud-based, enterprise operations platform. Once the user securely logs in, he or she not only has access to mapped data, but can also upload or access shared documents, RSS feeds, and calendar events.

This is especially useful to NGOs and nonprofits (who largely depend on volunteer staff) to share information quickly and efficiently with non-employees.

NGOs make up about 56 percent of RippleNami’s potential customer base, Connolly-LaBelle said, with corporations/universities (31 percent) and emergency management operations (13 percent) comprising the rest of the potential client pie.

In November, the company signed electronic-payment, data-mining software company Nehemiah and Williams, whose customers include Safaricom,

Kenya Power Authority and political parties in Nairobi, Kenya. And in December, RippleNami signed its latest customer, Aero-Pioneer, a provider of air logistics and services in East Africa.

Connolly-LaBelle said the company expects several additional customers to sign contracts, including the City of Honolulu, Doctors Without Borders and the American Legion.


RippleNami was co-founded by international business development guru Phil Gahn, who now serves as the company’s chief development officer. Gahn has over 20 years of experience leading business development initiatives in South America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. His experience spans industries including maritime, aviation, mass transit, critical infrastructure security, and law enforcement and defense — most of which took place in austere regions of the world. It was during his time spent working abroad that he saw the need for a tool such as RippleNami.

Gahn currently serves as a senior policy advisor for International Security and Crisis Management at the Harvard Medical School’s Operational Medicine Institute, and is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers and the American Society for Industrial Security.

Before co-founding RippleNami, Gahn led business development for system integration projects including those for Amtrak, Southern Border Initiative and Texas Office of Homeland Security. It is with this industry experience (and connections) that RippleNami has been able to sign deals with large organizations abroad just months after launching, Connolly-LaBelle said.

“In addition to the cutting-edge nature of the platform and its ability to positively impact enterprises, nonprofits, universities and emergency management agencies worldwide, the caliber of the RippleNami leadership team truly sets it apart from other technology startups,” said Craig Irving, president and founder of The Irving Group and an early investor in RippleNami. “Each brings a unique perspective and visionary insights, which combine to bring a distinct combination of strategic business acumen, local and international relationships, and a global outlook to RippleNami.”

Integrating Into Daily Life

RippleNami has raised $700,000 in capital from San Diego’s top angels, including Burnham, Farrell, Irving, Gene Ray, Greg McKee, and Ted Roth. The company is currently in the process of raising a seed round.

Connolly-LaBelle said that in two years she hopes RippleNami will advance from a business-to-business tool to a business-to-consumer app that’s more directly integrated into daily life.

“Right now, we already use geofencing to map our world, but we do it in silos,” Connolly-LaBelle said. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could have weather and traffic and all these different apps consolidated into one place? From one app, you could map your whole world. It could tell you if you were walking into a rainstorm or encountering a traffic jam. We get those alerts separately right now, but wouldn’t it be nice to integrate all of that Big Data?”

Connolly-LaBelle said the ultimate goal is to sell RippleNami to a company such as Google, who could then take the technology to the consumer.


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