2016 was a really good year for mobile-friendly vendors in the EHS software industry. Across the sector, companies were looking to improve workplace safety, and turning their attention to mobile-friendly SaaS-solutions as a result.
This is no surprise when you think about the overall development of the industry. Beyond the trend of digitalisation, EHS is increasing in importance, which is making a significant impact on our company’s growth. Industry leaders are investing heavily in workplace safety improvement, and they understand the value this investment has on both productivity and their overall company brand.
Our ‘Engage People in Safety’ mission statement has been well received, as leading companies understand the importance of safety culture, and the way in which EHS technology can be used as an enabler.
Progress since 2015
After founding the company in August 2014, 2015 marked the first full year of NordSafety’s operation. When I reviewed that first year, I wrote the following:
Today we have over 20,000 safety and quality reports in our system and over 6,000 pictures taken. Over 13,000 safety and quality tasks have been assigned with our software to manage risks.
Building on this solid base, we wanted to set high goals and increase our speed of growth in 2016, as part of our continual development. This has given us great recognition and value in our target markets; for example global EHS analyst company, Verdantix, listed NordSafety as the global innovation leader for incident management solutions.
We have also been able to extend our client base outside of Finland, becoming the leading mobile-friendly EHS solution vendor in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.
NordSafety’s performance in 2016
Overall, our system was used to log 79,000 audits and incidents in 2016. Users were taking 1,000 pictures every day by the end of the year, while we had three times more users and 2.5 times more clients.
We also released several new features in 2016, including:
- A Dropbox-style collaboration feature that invited companies to work together on projects
- Location awareness tools, which combined location data, visualised on a map
- Instant safety messengers to help users communicate safely in the field
Business wise, the growth of users on our platform was exponential. We managed to keep Monthly Recurring Revenue increasing at a rate of more than 10% month on month, at the same time as ensuring churn was negative.
We also had a new strategic opening as NordSafety partnered with Mehiläinen, one of the biggest private health care vendors in Scandinavia, to combine occupational health care and workplace safety. This allowed us to move into the healthcare sector, and also improve workplace safety with tools that are not widely used yet by in-house teams. We see a lot of opportunities here, and a solid integration between these functions can help companies to cut down their absence days, which will have a huge impact on the bottom line.
The future looks good
Right now, market conditions are really strong for EHS software vendors. There have been many mergers and acquisitions in the industry, which is generating potential for different kinds of collaborations.
However, with all companies heavily focused on growth and development, it will be interesting to see which businesses shine in 2017. There will probably be some players who run out of money – particularly as certain SaaS companies are reportedly not able to break even with their current business model – although we are not one of them.
With our current business model, NordSafety is in a good position, having managed to break even and secure funding for future growth investments. In fact, 2017 will be a year for expansion, as we have secured sufficient funding to support our international growth plans, with the UK and Germany our key target markets.
We have opened an office in London, and Megan Schiable has joined our team to lead UK operations. We are already closing our first British customers; Cirrus Logic is our biggest case to-date, and the general feedback is that there is a huge demand for our mobile solution. We will be rolling out our go-to-market strategy for Germany later on this year.
It is good for the whole industry to get rid of the old approach, comprising of enterprise compliance systems that focus on legal requirements, giving little or no support for people working in the company; in this regard, we hope to see more mobile-friendly vendors enter the market. By making this transition, more companies will engage of staff on the subject of workplace safety when selecting new solutions.
To conclude, in 2016 I learned some significant lessons that I will carry into 2017. Firstly, SaaS start-up growth is something you need to do yourself. You need to understand your market, your customer, and apply the best supporting practices; that’s probably the best lesson I’ve learned.
Secondly, I better understand what the phrase ‘be global, act local’ means, as a result of implementing the planned go-to-market strategies in different markets.
We hope 2017 will continue to be a very successful year for everyone, and want to see new organisations joining our mission to make work safety engaging and available for everyone.
We also want to improve cooperation with our current customers, and ensure they continue to be the innovative leaders of safety that they are today!
Co-founder and CEO of NordSafety