Tag Archives: Neal Soni

Staples Grads Prepare 911 For Emergencies

When a mass shooting occurs — whether at a bowling alley and bar like in Lewiston, Maine, or a school like Parkland — local first responders can be overwhelmed with information.

Calls surge into 911. Witnesses post videos and photos. Texts fly back and forth.

But none of it is organized. And not all of it is available to the emergency staff, who need it most.

In 2018, Staples High School graduates and Yale University Dylan Gleicher (Class of 2017) and Neal Soni (’18) — longtime friends, for whom Sandy Hook was all too near and recent — created an app to help. They enlisted another Yale friend, Michael Chime.

Neil Soni and Dylan Gleicher

Prepared allowed school employees to seamlessly share information with each other during shootings and other crises.

The platform launched in 2019, with clients like the New Haven and Passaic (New Jersey) Public Schools.

It was a great, important concept. (It was also not Dylan’s first app. Earlier, he designed Westport’s Positive Youth Development’s’ first website, gratis. He was in 4th grade at the time.)

Dylan and Neal soon realized their app could be used by more than the people inside a school. They expanded Prepared Live, to focus on 911 centers, police and fire departments, and sheriff’s offices.

Data sharing had been an issue for them. Most rely on landline communication, though up to 80% of emergency calls come from cell phones.

Users pay on a sliding scale, based on variables like the number of dispatchers and call volume.

When someone calls 911 in a community that uses Prepared, they get a text that enables them to share or stream additional information, like videos, photos and voice messages.

According to Forbes, Prepared is now used by call centers that cover more than 20% of the US population.

First responders are not the only ones who want to be “Prepared.” On Wednesday, Dylan and Neal’s company closed a $16 million Series A funding round. It was led by Andreessen Horowitz, along with M13 and Google’s Gradient.

Now Prepared is even more prepared for the future.

(“06880” often covers the accomplishments of Staples High School grads — from all classes. If you enjoy these stories, please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Dylan Gleicher Was Always Prepared For Success

When Patty Haberstroh heard that Staples High School graduates Dylan Gleicher and Neil Soni teamed up with 2 Yale University classmates to create Prepared, an app that lets educators respond instantly to an active shooting incident — for example, quickly sending a lockdown notification to an entire school, plus local law enforcement — she was impressed.

But the program specialist in Westport’s Human Services Department was not surprised.

She remembered that a while ago Positive Youth Development — another organization she worked with — needed a website designer. They were low on funds. Member Ellen Gleicher said her son could do it, gratis.

Soon, Dylan created and launched PYD’s great site.

He was in 4th grade at the time.

Dylan Gleicher (2nd from left) created the Prepared app with (from left) Michael Chime, Neal Soni and Daniel James. They won the Miller Prize, a $25,000 in Yale University’s entrepreneurship competition. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Jack And Neal: They Got (Every) Game

It’s not easy being a high school athlete. Or fan.

You’ve got the ups and downs of wins and losses (and injuries). There’s the pressure of school, extracurriculars, family and social life.

And — thanks to weather, facilities and a thousand other factors — the game schedule constantly changes.

Jack Sharkey and Neal Soni can’t do anything about Xs, Os, concussions, sprains, rain or snow.

They can, however, make following your favorite team a snap.

And they have. With an app.

Jack Sharkey (left) and Neal Soni show off their CT Sports app.

The Staples High School seniors spent 2 months creating CT Sports. An outgrowth of their Building Web Applications class with teacher Dave Scrofani, it’s simple, clear, and tremendously useful.

Users select any of Connecticut’s 183 high schools, and any of the 27 sports administered by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference.

Fan of Staples sports? Here’s when and where all the spring teams play!

Instantly, you see the schedule, opponent, location, bus time and level (varsity, JV, freshman). The information is up-to-date: As soon as a change is made to the CIAC website, it appears on CT Sports.

You can add events to your personal calendar — along with reminders.

All information is pulled directly from the CIAC site. So why use this one?

“Our interface is much cleaner,” says Neal. “For theirs, you have to choose each parameter separately, each time. On ours you can save features. And it’s much easier to switch schools.”

Visually, it’s appealing too. Neal and Jack added each school’s colors to the site — tedious, but a welcome feature. (They considered using logos. But if they sell ads later, there may be copyright issues. These guys think ahead.)

The potential user base is enormous. But Jack and Neal had no sure way to reach them.

The CIAC helped. They emailed every athletic director in the state, encouraging them to send information about CT Sports to all students, parents, teachers and coaches.

Feedback was immediate — and very positive — Jack says.

A small Google ad at the bottom brings in a few dollars. But the app was not designed as a moneymaker. Neal and Jack hope to use it to build name recognition, for future endeavors.

They’ll create more apps, juggling all their other activities. Jack is president of both the Unified Sports Club and Kool To Be Kind, and is a Top Hat Tutor. Neal is president of Top Hat, and a national taekwando competitor.

Unfortunately, martial arts is not a CIAC sport. But if it becomes one, Neal and Jack will make sure you never miss a meet.

(To download the app, search for “CT Sports: HS Sports Schedules.” Right now, it is available only for iOS devices.)

Two more app functions: Choose one specific sport, or select from every high school in Connecticut.