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Dunkin Donuts, Minute Maid Orange Juice, and the Founding of RapidSOS

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Reflecting on the last three years of endless meetings, conversations, and late nights at the Harvard Innovation Lab and MIT Martin Trust Center, the ups and downs of pouring oneself into your passion – I keep returning to how fortunate I feel to have my co-founder, Nick Horelik, at my side every step of the way.

Most folks know Nick for his brilliant mind – a published scientist and engineer with a PhD in nuclear engineering from MIT, but few know that he is a ballroom dancer, avid hat collector, karate practitioner, and active community citizen, from manning the Ears for Peers hotline in undergrad to volunteering for the local election commission. However, I’ve come to appreciate his drive and passion for taking on big challenges. It’s crazy to reflect on it, but our shared journey to address the emergency communication challenge began in Dunkin Donuts on Memorial Drive in Cambridge.

I had previously met Nick at an MIT/HBS event, but we had only spoken for about 15 minutes a few weeks before when I looked up his phone number and cold called him on Sunday, a few hours ahead of the MIT $100K submission deadline. Little did I know that Nick had been thinking about the same problem from his time at Tufts University staffing the Ears for Peers hotline.

At 9:00 PM we crammed into a booth at Dunkin Donuts. Over an orange juice I shared my vision for what RapidSOS would become. Amazingly, Nick began nodding along as I flipped through pages of a PowerPoint deck – and 15 minutes later he said yes and two hours later with twenty minutes to spare I submitted our application for the MIT $100K competition.

That night would forever change RapidSOS – transforming a vision into a team and a mission. Since that time Nick has been at my side through it all: there when two-thirds of our engineering team quit two days before Christmas a year into the business when we couldn’t pay them, there when with a new team we became the first company to push GPS location, type of emergency, and contact information from a cell phone into  9-1-1’s existing system, and there as we welcomed our 25th person to the team.

As we prepare for launch in a few days, and I’ve never felt more fortunate to have Nick as my co-founder.

This post has been updated.