Currently running a successful EOI campaign with STAX, CodeSafe designs solutions to address failings in workspaces that lead to accidents. With OHS legislation in Victoria tightening to better protect workers, their expansion has not come at a better time.
We spoke to married co-founders Jacqui and David Broadhurst about their inspiration for starting the company, and their impressive upwards trajectory so far.
What is the inspiration behind CodeSafe? When did you know it was time to start the company?
The idea came about after a near fatality when David was working on a large infrastructure project. We realised that the way safety, process and instruction was being communicated onsite was just not working. Workers were disengaged and felt devalued facing mountains of paperwork. We realised the mechanism of transferring information at a field level was broken, and felt we needed to do something about it.
Our mobile, visual, micro-learning prototype won the 2013 WorkSafe Victoria Invention of the Year award, and we realised we’d come up with something pretty special. So we sold our dream horse farm in Victoria and moved to Melbourne to make it happen.
What do you think is the most important skill founders need to succeed?
My father was a business owner and he used to say the reason there aren’t many successful business owners is that most don’t have the stomach to stick to it until they become the ‘overnight success’ everyone thinks they’ve been.
I’m so grateful that I’ve had my Dad’s example to follow, because he brilliantly balanced his time between planning his strategic approach, making sure he had the right team around him, and backed that up with sheer hard work.
How well do you work together?
Well, we’re married, so finding ourselves working together was the easy part... learning how to work well together over the last 10 years has taken a little more work.
Initially, we thought we needed to adopt traditional husband and wife roles, with Dave at the helm and Jacqui in the supporting, administrative space. That was a disaster until we accepted that Dave was more skilled at being our herald and our vision-caster and that Jacqui was far better suited to strategy, business modelling, product design, and overall management.
What are the top challenges you’ve faced launching CodeSafe?
I reckon that it’s probably been the same for both of us:
It was hard to stay true to our vision in pioneering an idea that was ahead of its time.
It’s been hard to stay positive when well-meaning advisors were pushing us to become more modular like our more traditional competitors.
Since COVID, we’ve seen the proverbial ‘light switch’ across multiple industries as they’ve realised how valuable an integrated risk management ecosystem can be to their daily efficiencies.
Have you learned anything new or surprising about yourself through this process?
Oh yes, definitely! I never thought I’d enjoy trouble-shooting and finding out-the-box solutions for people, as much as I do, or how rewarding that would be!
How do you handle risk and competition?
I remember going to a lecture given by Albert Goller, the CEO of Siemens Germany, that really changed how I viewed competition.
He said that Australians spend too much effort building walls (both legally and emotionally) to protect their ideas, rather than investing the same money and effort in the R&D that would help them stay ahead. I really prefer the latter philosophy. It’s important to embrace competition because it challenges us to be better, think bigger, and be more creative.
Because we’ve been committed to this, we’ve not found a competitor yet who can offer everything we can.
What’s your team culture like?
One of our core values is ‘to live for the benefit of others’ and this sums up how we look after not only our customers and reseller partners, but our teammates. So, instead of answering this question myself, I asked our Head Software Engineer, Chris:
"Being part of the CodeSafe team is equal parts luxurious and challenging, and I wouldn't want it any other way. Luxurious because the team is always there to help you without politics or ego. And challenging because the only way to return and honour that is with more help in kind, more hard work, and never settling for good enough."
What’s your superpower?
To creatively simplify and standardise. To find the common thread that brings multiple lines of thinking together to form a single, simplified solution.
And David’s superpower is story-telling.
Do you have any unusual routines or habits?
We have many, but the best since we moved to our new offices is probably our ‘Champagne Wednesdays’. We share lunch and a toast to celebrate and be grateful for something great - a birthday, an engagement, a new big tender win, someone buying a house, or even the sun shining in Melbourne for two days straight.
What else do you like to do in your spare time?
Living in Abbotsford, enjoying craft beer and great coffee goes without saying. We love walking and running along the river, Jacqui enjoys painting large abstract artworks, and David runs a mental health charity called Braveheart Freedom Fighters. Unlocking Us and Dare To Lead podcasts by Brene Brown are a staple addition to our river walks too.
Are there any apps or gadgets that you can’t live without?
Everything Apple. I’d be lost without my iPhone, Apple Watch, and my noise-cancelling Airpods.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice 5 years ago, what would it be?
Take more risks... quicker!
Do you have any mentors? What have they taught you?
I have different mentors in different areas of my life, whether it be financial, spiritual, relational or parenting, but they have all taught me a similar foundational truth: ego is a killer and humility is powerful.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Again, my Dad used to say: “never make a decision out of fear, because it will always be the wrong one. Use your head, be humble, get good advice, then weigh up the options and be bold.”
What is another company you admire, or where would you work if not at CodeSafe?
Coming from a family of self-employed entrepreneurs, I’m not sure I’m wired for traditional employment, but if I was I’d probably love to work with Apple. I admire their attention to detail, innovation, and unapologetic commitment to excellence.
Tell us an anecdote that comes to mind when you think about CodeSafe's impact on an organisation.
Citywide was awarded the Cleaning & Sanitisation contract for Melbourne during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. We helped them remotely onboard 1000+ new staff when their usual face-to-face inductions were not possible.
CodeSafe created the mobile, visual instruction required to mitigate the risk of contracting/spreading COVID, built their QIN portal, and rolled out multiple inductions and notification tools on time and within budget. The true testimony was that not a single member of the cleaning crew contracted COVID, even though they were at the very coalface of the problem.
We know that family-run companies, on average, outperform non-family companies. Why do you think this is?
There’s no back door. Family-owned businesses are 100% committed to the process. There’s more at stake, so we work harder. Our whole family is involved and committed to making a difference through CodeSafe. I’m told that married co-founders are a startup’s secret weapon!
Are you following any other companies in the space (at home or overseas)?
It’s been interesting to watch companies like Oracle pick up Melbourne-born Aconex for a record $1.6 billion, or Damstra investing heavily in their Velpic induction solution acquisition. And then there’s fellow Aussie company, SafetyCulture, who raised AUD $60m a few years ago.
The architecture and configurability of CodeSafe’s QIN platform gives it such broad application potential that we’re beginning to understand its attraction for investors. We don’t have to buy out other tools to expand our offering. We’ve got it all sitting under the bonnet already, as part of QIN’s core functionality, ready for our clients to realise they need it!
Your three-pronged software, video production & consulting approach is impressive. Is there another natural expansion play on the horizon?
A range of self-serve, vertical, market-specific offerings supporting increased scalability.
Currently underway is an expansion of our Reseller Partner Network, specifically into the Americas and the UK, as well as the healthcare space around COVID-safe compliance monitoring tools.
Our secret new game-changing product launches in 2022.
What are you most excited about for the next year?
There’s so much that it’s hard to choose, but other than our new product launch, it would be the maturing industry relationships that we’ve been fostering for 10 years.
Why is now the right time to raise capital for CodeSafe?
It’s taken us 10 years to understand and embrace our difference. We always knew our product was special, but we thought someone with more resources and experience would catch up to us.
Since they haven’t, we’ve realised that our time is now. We are busier than ever with more and more industries beating down our door for the solutions we offer, so it’s time to go big or go home.