Luke Anear had investigated more than 2500 workplace injuries as a private detective when he realised there was a big problem he wanted to solve.
“We are part of the problem here. We need someone to get injured before we go and investigate what happened,” Anear told Business Insider.
“I stepped back, looked at the whole industry and across the whole world, it was reactive. It essentially would wait for someone to die and then legislation would get created and then policies and procedures in companies and then the poor guy out in the field would be given the new administrative task he has to do on top of his day job.”
He wanted to make safety and quality available to every worker in the world. The result is SafetyCulture, his mobile-first iAuditor app. It lets people create smart checklists, conduct on-site inspections, analyse data and share insights in real time, whatever industry you’re in.
Already, the impact among global blue clients such as Qantas, Hilton, Coles, BHP Billiton, and Coca-Cola has been dramatic, with more than 30 million inspections being conducted.
The app is used by over 75% of ASX50 companies and enables more than one million inspections monthly across 80 countries.
The business implications have also been dramatic, with local customer Siemens Health estimating they’ve saved 30 minutes per maintenance inspection by using SafetyCulture iAuditor instead of paper forms, and also saving $170,000 in 10 months as a result.
Now the technology business Anear launched in 2004, in the family garage in Townsville in far north Queensland, has just raised $30 million ($US23m) in series B funding to expand SafetyCulture’s global footprint. Index Ventures, a key investor in Slack, led the round, with Blackbird Ventures and Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar, who led last year’s $6.1 million series A raise, tipping in again.
“It’s been a rewarding journey working with Luke and the SafetyCulture team and I’m excited to be part of their next milestone,” Farquhar said. “There is strong market potential globally and it will be great to see the new funding ramp up their expansion efforts and accelerate the rollout of new product features.”
The business has now raised more than $38 million and is valued at more than $160 million.
Anear confessed they weren’t looking for cash, but people came knocking as news of his product spread.
“We didn’t set out to raise money, but once word got out in Silicon Valley about what we were doing and our metrics and the size of the market we were solving this problem for, VCs (venture capitalists) ended up flying out to see us,” he said.
“It forced us to decide whether or not it made sense to do a round. We spent about 8 months just talking and listening to VCs and getting to know them.”
The funding for global growth will includes extra hires in SafetyCulture’s San Francisco, Sydney and Manchester offices, for engineering, product management, customer support and success, and marketing.
“As we scale we want to build a company where leaders can execute the vision and move quickly without too much structure. Now our focus is finding more great people who share our passion for solving a global problem,” Anear said.
“SafetyCulture has achieved about 5% of our long term vision, so the additional funding will allow us to grow, push forward with our product road map and bring new features to market quicker.”
The company has now grown 500% in the last 12 months, with 75 staff in the three countries, including 45 in Sydney. Anear believes he could have a $1 billion business in five years.
The thing that most surprised him about the success of the app is how it “tapped into an innovation layer that’s been dormant within organisations”.
He cites Coles, which rolled the app out in all its stores across Australia, as an example.
“They empowered all their store managers to create their own digital workflows,” he said.
“We now see this across all these companies, where people who were never responsible for IT, never had any budget behind them, can now build a digital workflow and share it across their teams.
“I think technology hadn’t actually caught up with the opportunity. Now, because everyone’s got a smartphone in their pocket, we can build a user experience that allows these front line people to drive change.
“Employers are empowering their teams with our technology so workers can take responsibility for their personal safety and drive higher quality from the front line.”
As part of SafetyCulture’s latest raise, Jan Hammer, general partner at Index Ventures, join Richard Baker, co-founder of Blackbird Ventures, and Luke Anear, on the company board, with Scott Farquhar continuing as an advisor.