Collaboration Fuels Innovation: Harvard i-lab Alumni Team Up to…
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Collaboration Fuels Innovation: Harvard i-lab Alumni Team Up to Improve Public Safety

Michael Martin and Scott Crouch
RapidSOS Co-founder Michael Martin (left) and Mark43 Co-founder Scott Crouch (right)

This fall, more than 1,500 students from across the University have joined the Harvard Innovation Labs as members. Whether they're just beginning to explore startup ideas, or have already launched a venture, there’s one thing that i-lab advisors encourage all student innovators to do: get to know their peers.

Over the last 12 years, there are countless examples of student founders gaining immense value from building relationships with fellow innovators in the form of advice, introductions to potential investors, and connections to future customers. Recently, two of the most commercially successful companies to have come out of the i-lab — Mark43 and RapidSOS — are demonstrating the impact that these relationships can have on their businesses, and the customers they serve.

Mark43 and RapidSOS are both focused on public safety technology. Mark43, cofounded by Scott Crouch (Harvard College 2013), is building the next generation of law enforcement software, and RapidSOS, cofounded by Michael Martin (HBS 2015), securely links life-saving data from 500+ million connected devices and buildings directly to 911, RapidSOS Safety Agents, and first responders. The companies were founded in 2012 and each have raised over $200 million in capital.

Crouch and Martin met after graduating from Harvard at an alumni event. Then in 2018, their two companies decided to partner.

“The partnership came together because of the obvious product and cultural synergies between our two companies,” said Crouch. “Mark43 recognized the impact on the safety of community members RapidSOS could have. And with Mark43 as the leading cloud native CAD provider for police, RapidSOS saw the potential for a transformative product integration between our two platforms.”

This summer, they deepened their partnership to further improve the speed and accuracy of first responders.

“We’re united in our commitment to empower safer, stronger communities with intelligent, data-driven emergency response worldwide,” said Dave Sehnert, head of public safety partnerships at RapidSOS, when announcing the news. “Together with our RapidSOS Ready Emergency Community, we’re providing people with an added layer of safety and security and supporting our heroic first responders in saving millions of lives annually.”

In offering advice to student entrepreneurs, Crouch highlighted the importance of getting to know other founders: “I would absolutely recommend that entrepreneurs, especially student founders, surround themselves with other founders. There is no easy path to success when you’re starting a business, so having a group of people who are going through similar journeys can provide an incredible support mechanism.”

Martin returned to campus last spring for the 2023 President’s Innovation Challenge, where he announced the winners in the student health and life sciences track. As a past PIC winner himself, he had this to say about launching RapidSOS as a student at the i-lab:

“We were one of the first companies to take full advantage of this incredible ecosystem that we see here today of innovation and entrepreneurship at Harvard. An ecosystem that propelled us on our mission to partner with 9-1-1, to transform the foundational infrastructure behind 9-1-1 and emergency response globally.”

Crouch also emphasized the value of leveraging Harvard Innovation Labs’ resources: “Harvard and the remarkable people and environment at the i-lab were essential to the founding of Mark43. A tremendous network of mentors, advisors, and a space to incubate our business provided an invaluable launchpad.”

Share Your Story

As the Harvard Innovation Labs team works with thousands of students over the 2023–2024 academic year, we look forward to hearing many more stories about how founder connections help ventures grow and succeed. Email us at to share yours.