Scott Monroe noticed something important was missing when he left the Marine Corps and started his career as a firefighter.
“The military does performance management, promotional processes, team building, and organizational structure really well. And I thought it would be similar on the civilian side with public safety. But it was it’s actually the opposite. They just don’t have the tools,” he told Hypepotamus.
A key problem is that public safety organizations – be it police, fire, paramedics, or bomb squads – have a difficult time organizing all the data they collect on their internal workforce. Monroe said most agencies still rely heavily on paper-based options to track critical employee data.
They also face personnel challenges not seen in a typical office environment.
Most public safety jobs are heavily rank-focused and certificate-based, but there isn’t an easy way to track each person’s accomplishments. Additionally, police chiefs and other leaders need to track complaints, critical incidents, hours worked, and other data points that ensure each officer is ready and able to help keep the public safe.
“Police Chiefs, fire chiefs, and sheriffs have tons of crime data, call data, and response data, but they don’t have any good people data,” he said.
His startup, Wilmington-based Essential Personnel, looks to fix that problem and provide “people data” for first responders and public safety agencies.
Those in corporate work environments may be familiar with performance management platforms like Lattice or 15Five. Essential Personnel goes a step further to build out a performance management solution tailored to public safety careers. Employee data points are tracked and turned into important insights for team leaders.
The platform is not designed to find the “bad cops,” Monroe said. Instead, it focuses on providing better options for employee wellness and overall job success. He sees the platform as a way to ensure public safety teams are operating in top form.
“As fluffy and as it sounds, giving your people a voice and putting the right people in the right place at the right time will help you build morale,” he added.
Accurate tracking of this type of data has life and death consequences, Monroe added. “We’re talking about the public safety professionals that are driving million-dollar fire trucks and cops dealing with the worst possible situations on a daily basis.”
The platform works directly with public safety agencies and launched its MVP nine months ago. The team has bootstrapped to date and grown its revenue by adding new public safety customers. Monroe said the team has found product-market fit with its first set of customers and is “ready to scale.”
Joining Monroe is CFO Preston Stackhouse, a serial entrepreneur out of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Essential Personnel is one of a growing number of software startups building in the beach town of Wilmington, North Carolina. The secret to Wilmington’s tech talent growth? The small city has an outsized number of fintech, banking, and medical research companies that have attracted new tech workers over the years.
Wilmington saw a nearly 30% growth in its tech talent pool between 2019 and 2022, according to recent LinkedIn data.