SafetyCulture is the workplace startup from Townsville that has global ambitions – and is on its way to achieving them

Luke Anear, founder of SafetyCulture
  • SafetyCulture, an Australian startup, is seeing success with its checklist and incident reporting apps.
  • The company is focused on growth, combining two key platforms into one – and fridges.
  • CEO Luke Anear says universities are producing graduates the tech sector needs, but the government is not doing enough.

A lot of businesses start in a garage. You may know some: Apple, Google, Amazon. It’s a common denominator of the tech world. So it may come as no surprise to learn that SafetyCulture, one of Australia’s successful tech startups also started in a garage.

Luke Anear, co-founder of SafetyCulture, started it all back in 2012 with the release of iAuditor. The platform is an inspection checklist app used by organisations to have visibility over workers’ processes while ensuring safety and quality guidelines are adhered to. In 2018, the company also released Spotlight, an incident reporting app.

So far, the company is seeing success filling a gap in the mobile safety market. SafetyCulture’s two big products, iAuditor and Spotlight, have thousands of business users and the company is valued at $440 million after raising $60 million in a Series C funding round in 2018. “We’ve now got 20k customers around the world, 80 per cent are outside Australia,” Anear told Business Insider Australia. “Those customers conduct around 450 million checks in the workplace.”

And this is just the beginning for the Aussie company. With new hires, streamlined tech and a plan to move into fridges — yes, fridges — SafetyCulture has big ambitions.

Up next, all the growth

As part of its growth plans, SafetyCulture just announced the appointment of a new VP of Engineering, James Simpson, who comes over from Xero.

Appointing Simpson to SafetyCulture is seen by many as a big win for the Australian business – in part because it’s so hard to get someone with global experience in Australia’s tech sector.

“To bring in James who’s seen the challenges we’ve seen at other companies puts us in a better position to scale the business,” Anear said. “We’ve got a clear road map.”

Anear and Simpson both agreed that there’s a lot of room for SafetyCulture to grow – in Australia and globally. “I believe we’re looking at a decade of upward rapid growth just because of the sheer volume of opportunity in front of us,” Simpson said. “We have no competitors in front of us.”

Safety checklists and incident reporting are required across so many types of businesses, that SafetyCulture believes the number of businesses that could use the app is vast. “We don’t need more available market, in that sense, the existing market that we’re in presents such vast opportunity,” Simpson said. “In terms of penetration we are infinitesimally small.”

Streamlining technology to set the company up for success

Anear says plans are also afoot to combine iAuditor and Spotlight into one app, improving the combined user experience for their customers. The apps have a shared user base so it makes sense to bring the two together.

“We want a single app experience this year, we’ll also provide deeper functionality for our customers,” Anear said.

Simpson agreed. “It sounds a bit of a strange thing, when you work with each application, 99% of people say they should be brother and sister,” he said. “I think the technical side is okay – the challenge is in making sure we capture the customer needs accurately from one platform to another.”

He said users would start to see the capabilities of Spotlight in iAuditor before any official announcement is made.

But what about the fridges?

Anear has been keeping an eye on his customer’s needs and is on to something. He noticed that thousands of fridges are checked everyday, several times a day, in supermarkets to make sure they’re cold enough – and someone has to do it.

Armed with this knowledge, the company was inspired to look beyond pure software. SafetyCulture started sending out sensors that can be put in those fridges, which automatically check the temperature of the fridge and send the information to the platform to create a record.

“The idea of us being a safety company is something we’ve outgrown,” Anear said, “We’re automating what people are doing each day”.

So much opportunity

Safety is one way to get businesses interested, but insurance is the big opportunity ahead for SafetyCulture. Why? Because businesses want to pay less and insurers want businesses to claim less. How? Through improving safety and compliance.

We’ve had the insurers come to us, [because] customers are using our data to get a reduction on their insurance premiums,” Anear said. “If you check the trucks every week, then the insurance should reflect that.”

He said SafetyCulture had just employed someone in the UK “to head up our insurance partnerships”.

“We haven’t started here yet, the UK market has more experience in this,” he said.

Australian jobs market up to scratch, but government support is lacking

Simpson said Australia could be a tough market for companies like SafetyCulture given its small workforce, but he was confident universities are turning out graduates with skills the tech sector needs.

“Australia is a great place – there’s an availability of skilled people, the market is always tight but they’re there,” Simpson said.

“The economy is large enough to sustain it and help these sorts of businesses grow, I think that there’s a lot of organisations that are active in the Sydney and Melbourne markets to provide that sort of support to young businesses.”

Anear said the government needed to do more to help the tech sector to keep talent in Australia.

“We need to see a broadening of the 457 requirements and do more to expedite building approvals and processes, and at a federal level providing grants and incentivising research and development,” he said.

“I think politicians are out of touch and going after short term popularism rather than long term investment in Australia’s future.”

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.