Welcome to ‘The ConTech Bulletin’ with Jon Ballantyne, a Q&A focused on Construction Technology in the Built Environment.
This Q&A series is an opportunity for our Recruitment Consultant Jon Ballantyne to discuss all things construction technology with some of the lead players in the space. Each week we will ask burning questions, providing a platform to share insight around innovation, sustainability, and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to enter the ConTech industry.
Quick Safety – the app electricians use to save time & money by complying with Electrical Safety Certificates requirements and are kept informed of safety regulations in real time.
How did you find yourself working in the Construction Technology sector?
It all started back in 1988 when I landed in Australia, from the USA, and unemployment was at a record high. I had just completed 6 years in the US Navy on Nuclear Submarines during the Cold War in Advanced Digital and Laser Technologies and wanted to spend some time “outside” for a change. Everyone said it would be 6-8 months before I could find a job. I did not believe that. I hit the footpath and knocked on doors. First in the commercial and industrial areas and then on construction sites. Less than a week in, I visited a civil construction site and landed a job as a backhoe/excavator operator. From there I leapfrogged into better positions and better pay, eventually ending up in the electrical construction industry.
What does your role entail at Quick Safety?
I am currently the Founder and CEO of Quick Safety, a 7-year-old RegTech company. As a sole founder I literally do everything except for coding (I leave that to the specialists).
Can you share some insights into the specific technological innovations that your company has brought to the construction industry?
We have developed Australia and New Zealand’s first National Safety Alert System directly to the electricians in the field. (I did not want to see a repeat of the deaths caused by the Home Insulation Scheme or the damage caused by the recall of Infinity Cable)
Electricians come and go from sites, and no one really knows if they have completed all the federal and state-based requirements (testing to ensure it is safe and fully complaint to the Standards). Everyone just takes the word of an electrician of “She’s right mate!”
We have created an Australian/New Zealand Standards Certified product, which validates tests, removes everyone’s risk, and is completely transparent oversight system to ensure EVERY electrical job is safe and fully compliant. This is a first in Australia and New Zealand. We cater for everyone from the electricians to the electrical contractors to the asset owners and now the insurance companies.
With sustainability becoming increasingly important, how does your company address environmental concerns in the construction industry?
We look not only at what we can do to assist our environment in all processes, but more importantly – how can we assist the environment during the entire life cycle of the asset. Electrical faults causing fires make up 40% of ALL asset fires. At Quick Safety we can predict/prevent electrical fires, electrocutions, and power failures in any asset (a global first). This will assist the environment to not deal with the pollution of a major asset catching fire and polluting the environment. (Think of Notre Dame, if it were using Quick Safety – it never would have caught fire)
Globally, women fill approximately 10% of operational roles in the construction industry. Does this figure align with the representation in your region, and what positive steps are being taken to drive diversity in ConTech?
In Australia we sit at 12% overall, but in Victoria it sits at a meager 2%. Sad when you think that in the general workforce it sits at 46%.
If these figures are going to change, I believe it must be in a culture change across the board. If a woman does not feel safe, she will never enter that industry. Everyone needs to lift their game and look at every woman as your mother or your sister. How would you treat your sister on a work site? How would you like others to treat her on site? I DO NOT think throwing $$ at this is the issue, it is a systemic change that must happen.
What unique challenges and opportunities do you see in APAC compared to other regions?
Challenges – Most industries are looking for one product to do everything that they need it to do. This mentality is dangerous. Dangerous due to the fact that these companies never adopt anything. Industry must understand the importance of combining existing products to achieve all they need. The use of API’s and system integrations is pivotal to combatting this mentality, it is all about education.
Opportunities – Digital adoption is on everyone’s mind, yet very few actually pursue it. I think every country can do better; it is just a matter of what are the priorities? Change costs money. Whether it be in time, training, upskilling, new workers, systems, hardware, software, or any thing that is used to implement this change. A cost benefit risk analysis needs to be undertaken and shared collaboratively to allow everyone the comfort that the change WILL be effective and be a better outcome.
What does the coming year hold for your company? What are your expansion plans?
Huge plans here. We have an open raise round to allow us to do exactly what we talked about above, API into other existing systems. This will enable us to seamlessly go into and out of existing products in the electrical contractor software space, asset & facility management systems, BIM, Smart Coties and so much more. It really is the way forward for the future. We also have interest from other countries, so global expansion is on our roadmap, as well as development products to assist in Solar, EV, and DC Cabling. Any area that deals with high compliance and no oversight, validation, verification, and certification – that is where you will find us!
Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to enter the ConTech industry?
Know the industry, gather key contacts, and form internal champions to assist in the change management process.
Listen to your industry and know what they are experiencing, even if you do not believe it. Once you get consistent feedback, you can rest assured it is an issue, even if it is something you do not solve.
Be ready to pivot if that is an option for you.
LMRE are specialist PropTech recruiters, if you need help growing your business or making any key hires please get in touch via the form below!