05 Jul YBF Success Stories: Donesafe, the People’s Safety Software
'The balance of a start-up is going as fast as you can and growing as quickly as you can, while also building a sustainable business. Plenty of start-ups go too fast and crumble. Plenty of start-ups don't grow fast enough and are then dominated by competitors. Getting that balance is a real challenge, and is one I think we've done pretty well on.' – Matt Browne, Donesafe
Donesafe, the One-Stop-Shop of WH&S
When you look through the Donesafe website, you find pages and pages of blog posts announcing new dashboards, updates, and rollouts. It’s hard to believe the company, which supplies health and safety software to over 400 clients and 500,000 users, is comprised of only 12 employees. “The product moves incredibly quickly,” co-founder and CEO Matt Browne acknowledges, crediting the Donesafe team for their ability to maintain the product’s rapid pace of development.
Donesafe is essentially a “configurable management system for health and safety reporting”. Each discrete workflow manages everything from documents to safety management, from incident hazard management to e-learning and chemical management. Or, as Browne puts it, Donesafe is your “Amazon”, your “one-stop shop”, for everything WH&S.
It was in 2013 that Donesafe was founded by the two Matts – Browne and Knee. The two married Knee’s background in management consulting and sales, finance and fundraising skills to Browne’s health, safety and tech management background to make a killer co-founder duo.
And without each other’s complementary skill sets, it’s unlikely Donesafe would be the killer company it is today. In his previous role, Matt Knee grew his staffing business from zero to 500 employees in a short period of time. Meanwhile, Matt Browne was earning his stripes in tech and in safety, making him, in his words, “uniquely positioned to know safety and to know tech”.
Major Keys to Success
With over 100 competitors in the health and safety space, Browne and Knee entered with some constraining parameters. Crucial to success in the competitive SaaS space is scalability, something Donesafe’s platform has in spades. The platform is easily configurable to each industry it operates in, meaning Donesafe has been able to amass “a lot of retail and hospitality-based clients, alongside banking and insurance firms.”
Being able to capture this “low-hanging fruit” of the enterprise OH&S software market is partly due to the fact that “Donesafe is so easy to use, configurable, and very affordable.” As such, they could target “enterprises who traditionally may not have invested in safety software”, Matt explains, rather than going after the saturated construction and mining market.
That’s not to say the “low hanging fruit” of WH&S software are small accounts by any means. Donesafe works with 5 Global 500 companies and over 10 ASX 200 companies. The beauty of the product is it can work for companies of such scale as well as SMEs, right down to sole traders, thanks to its scalability and configurability.
Another key factor in Donesafe’s success is their ability to easily integrate into legacy systems like HR, payroll, and ERPs, meaning companies can commit to Donesafe without having to overhaul their entire software systems. For instance, Salesforce’s hospitality customers can integrate with Donesafe so that incident reports are fed immediately into Salesforce to manage customer relations.
“Most of our competitors were really hard to use, really rigid, and not very configurable… they were force feeding the business”, Matt observes. “Our focus was always on the configurability… we marry with their processes rather than they marry with our system.”
Future drivers of growth – Emerging Tech
While the Internet of Things (IoT) is often seen as a premature area of growth for tech companies, Donesafe is ready for the field’s predicted explosion. “We’ve already got a heap [of IoT devices] that we’re connecting with already”, Matt says. But their approach is to be the service layer for health and safety IoT, “connecting with all of the players and become the platform that everyone comes to, to connect their safety data.”
This ties into their end goal, where the aim is for Donesafe to be “the platform to manage all of your intelligence around health and safety”, says Matt. “Whether that comes in via reporting on our application or another application, whether that’s based on an IoT device that’s plugged into a car or on somebody’s wrist, our intention is to be that platform”.
That’s not the only high-growth tech industry Donesafe is dipping its toes into. Matt has expressed Donesafe’s interest in using machine learning to make the best possible use of all the data going through the platform, and to provide insights on insurance and health and safety. By baking machine learning algorithms into their platform, Donesafe is ensuring they stay ahead of the curve and that they are protected against new entrants to the market.
Enterprise Sales in a Competitive Market
However, even in today’s health and safety software market, Donesafe far outstrips their 100+ competitors with their neat and accessible user experience. This is partly because of Donesafe’s ability to leapfrog legacy technologies with their advanced tech stack.
But most important in their clean sweep of the WH&S software market is their focus on the end user. Donesafe’s platform engages employees in conversations around health and safety that would otherwise never be had. Easy-to-use mobile reporting means employees can log in and report incidents that would not previously be reported.
These days, Donesafe is invited to all the large enterprise tenders, “which is great because we’re winning most of them”, Matt laughs. “To date, we haven’t lost any of the big ones that we’ve gone after.”
Matt’s comments make enterprise sales sound easy, which they aren’t. At least, they aren’t easy unless your product is so good it sells itself. “The word of mouth about Donesafe is really positive which has been great,” Matt explains. “The big end of town will talk to each other. We picked up the likes of National Australia Bank and McDonald’s because of our reputation with other clients.”
As far as self-selling products go, Donesafe does pretty well. It only took a very basic MVP and some PowerPoint sale slides to land their first two major enterprise clients – Audi Australia and Suncorp Group. Landing the two behemoths meant the Donesafe team had their work cut out for them, undergoing a “very aggressive build” in the 6 months after making those sales, taking the product “from MVP to a fully fledged enterprise software solution”.
Adventure Capital and Investor Involvement
That period of rapid growth couldn’t have happened without external investment, which is where Adventure Capital stepped in with seed funding. “Adventure Capital took a punt on us very early”, Matt says. The cash injection helped them hire a few developers, and launch their enterprise solutions. “They took a leap of faith with us and I think it’s definitely paid off for them.”
Donesafe’s experience highlights the importance of finding an investor that is “the right fit”, partly because investors are key to opening up new opportunities. “Darcy and Stu and the team have all been great advocates for us and have promoted us well within their networks… they’ve been very supportive.”
However, as far as hand-holding goes, Donesafe has largely been walking on its own two feet since the beginning. “Generally, it’s been quite a light touch” from the AC team, as the company has sailed on relatively smooth seas in their journey to WH&S SaaS ubiquity.
Despite Adventure Capital’s contribution, generally, Donesafe has had very little funding, and has funded their recent workforce expansion with organic growth. Their most recent (i.e., two-week-fresh) funding round is still closing, but has bumped their total funding to date in the vicinity of $1.5million.
It’s this latest cash injection that will enable Donesafe to grow their US office, which is their next target market. Now that they’ve hired their senior US country manager, they’re preparing to roll out via a group of large resellers and brokers.
“I think a big differentiator for us in the US is there’s not as many competitors in the US. Australia’s got a really heavy safety market… well our legislation is really strict here. So the US is much less regulated in this space, so there’s less players. And the reason there’s less players is the older model is very expensive whereas our model is very affordable .”
The company will be maintaining its Aussie roots as it takes over the world. By keeping Donesafe’s headquarters and support services in Sydney, the co-founders can train their international country managers in the place where it all began.
This isn’t to say the two Matt’s want to micromanage their international expansion, which is a delicate balance between existing strategy and autonomy in the new market. Of their new country managers, Browne says that “Once they set off… they will have creative freedom to go after the types of customers they want, and have a strategy around how they would do that”.
Donesafe’s next task? Taking on the European single market. Unlike the US, the health and safety software market in Europe is very crowded, but with one key shortcoming – sky-high software prices. Donesafe expects their affordable, easy-to-use interface will give them a crucial advantage over incumbents, a theory they’ll test when they roll out in mid to late 2018.
If you’d like to get in touch with the Matts, they are on Twitter (@matthewknee and @matthewjbrowne) and LinkedIn (Matt Knee and Matt Browne). Stay in the loop with Donesafe’s Twitter account and LinkedIn as well!