Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Decade of Praetorian: Reflecting on the Journey

This month, our company celebrated a rather remarkable anniversary. It was 10 years ago that I quit my job, jumped on a plane and headed west to start the Praetorian Group in an office building that also housed a fish processing plant and a fruit market. The smell that permeated the office at that time was not, in fact, success.

Fortunately, we were buoyed and energized by a lofty dream and vision: to use Internet technology to connect public safety – spanning police, fire, EMS and corrections – and help them better protect their communities, be safer and stay better informed. It’s a mission that did – and still does – provide inspiration to all of us each day.

This month’s 10 year anniversary has provided me with the occasion to reflect upon our journey and what it has meant to both me and the markets we serve. I am immensely proud of what we have built, the team we’ve put together, the members who have embraced our services, and the sponsors who have supported our mission. Over the years, we’ve received piles of letters and emails from members expressing sentiment that ranges from general “thank yous” to specific, harrowing stories of how their lives were saved by lessons learned from our sites and seminars. Testimonials like these have served as confirmation that we are making a significant difference each day in the lives of first responders and the communities they serve by providing critical information, resources and technology.

We’ve had to overcome many obstacles in reaching this milestone. In the early 2000s, we had to scrape and claw and hang on by the skin of our teeth to survive the “dotcom” boom and bust. Then it was the challenge of growing and figuring out not only how to survive as a business, but thrive. We’ve faced serious technology and business challenges and are now fighting through the worst recession in 60 years. These situations have yielded countless memories, from figuring out how to bring in enough revenue to meet payroll to the long nights in the early days of PoliceOne when I’d find myself driving an hour each way to fix our servers by hand on what seemed like a weekly basis.

But through it all, Praetorian is undeniably thriving by every meaningful measure. So much of our success can be attributed to having the right team and each member motivated by the right mission. It is our team’s unrelenting passion and commitment to the professionals we serve that has fueled our growth. Through it all, we have maintained the perspective that whatever struggles and challenges we’ve had to endure are trifling compared to facing the loss of a partner, subduing a violent subject, running into a burning building or a fighting to keep a patient alive.

This being public safety, we have at times had to fight to bring our customers and members (sometimes kicking and screaming) to embrace the Internet as a valuable tool. It’s a fight that we are winning in taking the lead as the top online media company in public safety, competing against much larger companies with bigger budgets and greater resources.

As we take stock of our company and mission after 10 years, it is clear we are making a difference:

  • has helped revolutionized how law enforcement gets its information, and now reaches more than 25% of all police officers nationwide.
  • Calibre Press and the Street Survival Seminar have been thriving under the PoliceOne umbrella and now in its 29th year trains nearly 10,000 officers per year in critical, lifesaving tactics.
  • is approaching 100,000 registered members and is making a name for itself as the most current, comprehensive and exciting media property in the fire market.
  • just celebrated its 2-year anniversary and has become recognized as the number one Web site for EMTs and Paramedics.
  • Our and sites are younger but each is growing rapidly, counting more than 45,000 members between them.
  • We’ve created a network of 10 microsites, such as,, and, that provide specialized resources around key topics.

To properly celebrate this anniversary, I must formally thank the groups who have been partners in our success:

Thank you to our advisors and contributors, who represent some of top minds and most forward thinking individuals within each of our markets. You have shared your ideas and vision, given us your stamp of approval and have helped make us what we are today.

I also must thank our sponsors and partners, many of whom have been with us since day one and who provide us with the means to provide the services we offer. We have benefited from your input, and we have enjoyed sharing our success with you as we’ve grown.

Finally, and most importantly, I want to thank the first responders and officers who have given us their trust as their primary source for critical resources to help them with their profession. It is a special feeling to be able to provide information that may save someone’s life or enable them to save another, and we thank you for allowing us to play that role. Without you, we wouldn’t have a company, mission or identity.

Praetorian is unique in the public safety market. After 10 years we still have the mindset of a start up and underdog. At our core, we are a small, entrepreneurial company highly committed to the police officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, correctional officers and emergency managers we serve. It’s been my honor and the honor of my entire team to serve the public safety community for the past 10 years. There is no other group as dedicated to the public good and as worthy of our support.

Here’s to another 10 years filled with exciting new challenges and a continued impact on those who protect us every day.


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