Townsville startup SafetyCulture breaks new ground by raising $23 million to go global
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Breaking out of Townsville in a big way, SafetyCulture raised $23 million in October 2016 (Image credit: SafetyCheck)

Overcoming a common challenge in Australia, this Queensland company has already opened two offices in the US and offers its services in languages from Japanese to Catalan

Going global is an important goal for Australian startups. Unlike the comparable Canadian market, Aussie startups are faced with the challenge of geography.

What might be deemed their natural major markets in North America and Europe are at a minimum a 15-hour flights away, which could give the impression that growing a scalable business from Oz is a Sisyphean task. If you are outside Sydney and Melbourne, even in other cities like Perth or Brisbane, the challenge is even greater. Now imagine you are in an even smaller city in northern Queensland called Townsville, with a respectable but small population of 170,000 people. You want to go global, but you face the challenge of a conservative investment culture and a limited talent pool. Despite these challenges, SafetyCulture believes that they have the moxie to succeed where other companies might have been content with simply building a locally serving business.

SafetyCulture has taken those challenges and muscled out a massive $23 million (AU$30 million) Series B funding round to fuel growth that has already seen it open up two offices in the US and one in the UK. The round was led by US-based Index Ventures with input from prolific Aussie VC Blackbird Ventures and Atlassian Co-Founder & Co-CEO Scott Farquhar.

The company manages an app it dubs iAuditor. The app manages checklists for on-site inspections, collecting data from the questionnaires to accumulate analytics over time. Their tool seems to have applications to a variety of industries, though their announcement focused on restaurants trying to improve their health grades. The round will be used to better share inspection data with customers, which according to their press release, aims “to help them reduce risk and improve quality,” plus make new hires in engineering and product management at its Sydney, SF and Manchester offices. New employees will also be brought on to grow their customer success and marketing operations.

“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, SafetyCulture CEO Luke Anear states in a press release. “With each inspection conducted, the organization gains more insight. They can now use the collective knowledge of their teams to make better and informed decisions.”

The company has moved quickly to expand across the globe, tallying over 30 million on-site inspections so far according to their press release. They opened their second office in Australia’s reigning startup capital Sydney. Since then, they have landed their main international office in San Francisco as well as working locations in Manchester, England and even Kansas City, Missouri. They offer services in six languages. Besides English, they are available in Japanese, German and French. The fact that they offer in both Spanish and Catalan would seem to imply some serious time and human resources invested in expanding its footprint in various regions of Spain.

SafetyCulture already boasts big name clientele like Coca-Cola, Hilton and AECOM. They also mention their “collaboration” with Apple, Microsoft and HP but do not define the outline the extent of these relationships.

“Companies in all industries are interested in fostering a culture of quality and safety but too many still rely on outdated pen-and-paper solutions that lead to inefficiency, inconsistency and limited visibility across the organization,” Index’s partner Jan Hammer argued, saying his new portfolio company “is outpacing a growing industry with its proactive solutions and we believe it is well-positioned to increase its industry lead.”

Hammer joins Anear and Blackbird Co-Founder Rick Baker on the SafetyCulture board.

“It’s been a rewarding journey working with Luke and the SafetyCulture team and I’m excited to be part of their next milestone,” Atlassian’s Farquhar, who led the company’s Series A funding round in 2014, said in the statement to the press. “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.”

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