From garage to billion dollar ‘unicorn’, firm to fight virus

A TECH firm founded in a Townsville garage almost two decades ago has become Australia's latest billion dollar "unicorn" as it announced plans to help fight the spread of coronavirus.

SafetyCulture, which developed the workplace inspection and checklist app iAuditor, this week secured $60.5 million in new funding, including from former PM Malcolm Turnbull and wife Lucy, to accelerate product development, hire more staff and reward long-term employees.

The capital raising values SafetyCulture at $1.3 billion, making it the newest member of the Australian unicorn club. A unicorn is a startup company valued in excess of $1 billion.


More than 500,000 workers and 26,000 organisations in 85 countries use its core iAuditor app to complete more than 600 million checks per year

SafetyCulture chief executive and founder Luke Anear said the company had launched a series of tools to help companies stay on top of COVID-19 related safety issues in the workplace.

Luke Anear
Luke Anear


That could include retailers who want to maintain social distancing for customers and airlines which have parked aircraft but need to maintain maintenance schedules.

Mr Anear said the company also was providing free six month access to iAuditor and other products to its healthcare, emergency, education and volunteer workers who were providing vital service.

The company, which began life as a supplier of paper-based safety manuals, now has offices in the US and Asia with 378 staff. "We are basically doubling our headcount every year," said Mr Anear.

He said that as the world emerged from the coronavirus crisis, companies like SafetyCulture were well placed to take advantage of a new vigilance around health and safety.

"It's a bit like before and after September 11 for the aviation industry," he said. "There will a focus on hygiene and sanitation which we will be able to help companies with. Our aim is not only to reduce risk but provide immunity from risk."

Mr Anear said he founded the company in 2004 after a career as a private investigator for Workers Compensation. "I got tired of seeing everyday people injured in the workplace and decided to do something about it," he said.

"Being a company from regional Queensland, you have to be disciplined as you don't have the support systems provided in the big cities. You live or die by the strength of your product if you are operating from a garage in Townsville."

He said the unicorn status achieved by the company was testament to the hard work of his employees.

"This is an exciting milestone for us to achieve as a company, especially during uncertain times like these," Mr Anear said. "We're particularly happy about giving employees the opportunity to sell some of their equity as a reward for all their hard work and continued loyalty."


Originally published as From Townsville garage to billion dollar 'unicorn', firm looks set to fight coronavirus

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