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Aussie tech start-up set to keep European workers safe after securing key partnership

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Joe Hoolahan

North Queensland mobile workforce start-up, JESI, has announced a new partnership with UK-based operational expertise management specialist, Strategic Analytics Team (SAT), as it continues to support the growing amount of mobile workers, predicted to encompass 73 per cent of the workforce by 2020.

The partnership with SAT provides JESI with its first foothold in the European market, becoming its sixth international supplier and adding to its current reach that includes the United States, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.

SAT will be implementing the JESI journey management software into its operational logistics programs provided to some of the world’s largest companies, to enable organisations to efficiently and safely manage the travel of their mobile workers.

Through the introduction of JESI software onto employees’ smart devices, workers can input their travel details complete with check-in points that enable employers to track their whereabouts. Alerts are sent should a check-in not be actioned.

What does this partnership mean for JESI and SAT?

Joe Hoolahan, Co-Founder and CEO of JESI, said: “The partnership with SAT is very exciting for JESI and provides us with a strong foothold into the European market. SAT has supported many businesses internationally with their operational logistics, so the collaboration with JESI journey management software is a natural fit.

“An organisation’s obligation to staff wellbeing is not just good practice, but it’s often legislated. JESI provides a solution to uphold employee health & safety regulations even with a nimble, mobile workforce that may be dispersed across several locations.”

Operating its global business out of Townsville, JESI is flying the flag for Australian regional innovation and is a perfect example of how technology is allowing work to be performed from any location across the globe.

Specialising in the construction, resource and health sectors, JESI enables employers to monitor every step of their employee’s journeys, which provides peace of mind, particularly when heading to remote or unsafe locations.

Paul Jorgensen, Senior Partner and Founder of SAT, said: “SAT is proud to announce an agreement between SAT and JESI. We have been in discussions with JESI for over six months now and during that time we tested their products to ensure that they would meet the very high standards and quality control required by both our clients and us.

“Throughout this process, our focus has been on the way that end users can use the products and how employers can effectively manage their duty of care for their employees and protect an ever-increasing mobile workforce. Through JESI we are able to provide an offering that allows employers to do just that, no matter how big or small their business is.”

SAT will undertake comprehensive training programmes with all new clients implementing the JESI software, ensuring the companies have a number of ‘super users’ within their organisations.  This will help embed the full solution into the clients’ systems and processes and bring about the cultural change management needed to enable them to get the best from the new system.

What is the story behind JESI?

The idea for JESI was established in 2012 by local Townsville entrepreneurs, Joe Hoolahan and Matthew Tebble, who wanted to build a solution that would let them know their travelling loved ones had arrived safely at their destination. Something that would remind them to check-in rather than relying on memory to phone or text. They officially launched the platform in 2014.

Prior to co-founding and taking on the CEO position at JESI, Joe worked as a business development and marketing specialist within the corporate training and sporting sectors. His experience includes working with established brands such as the North Queensland Cowboys and Tec-NQ with extensive connections throughout the regions of Queensland. A champion of regional innovation, Joe played a founding role in developing an innovation centre for the Townsville Region where JESI is based.

Matthew Tebble has over 15 years’ experience operating as a Business Development Manager within wholesale and retail clothing manufacturers, credited with driving the growth of EMU Sportswear and developing EV2 Sportswear with scale into offshore markets.

Joe Hoolahan and Matthew Tebble
Joe Hoolahan and Matthew Tebble

JESI is already used and trusted by a variety of companies in a wide range of sectors including resources, construction, education and health, both in Australia and internationally. Joe shared with Anthill much more about this innovative start-up’s journey in the interview below.

What exactly inspired you to start JESI?

We’re a Queensland business, born and bred, and the resource industry here is huge. We wanted to build a platform that would support the workers of this industry, which is predominantly transient, and it was through this development that we identified the growing mobile workforce population who would also hugely benefit from journey management software.

Any business who has staff members travelling outside of the office should have a system like JESI in place to track their safety. For example, if you have a care worker heading out to a dangerous neighbourhood, or a construction worker operating in a remote environment, and there’s an accident, at what point would it become clear that something has happened? The JESI alerts provide peace of mind and enable immediate reactions should a worker not check-in at their next destination when expected.

JESI is about giving peace of mind to those who care. We want to help organisations know where their people are and if they are okay.

What has been your biggest challenge so far in business and how did you overcome it?

In the initial development stage, Matthew and I searched for local Townsville software agencies but couldn’t find any, so we ended up having to head to Brisbane to have the technology developed. Since then, we’ve had a side focus of growing the North Queensland start-up scene so that other regional businesses can get the support they need.

We also spent our first 12 months working out of our homes due to the lack of local facilities, hence why I helped found Townsville’s first ever, industry led innovation centre – iNQ – to try and help others not waste valuable time due to lack of resources.

How has JESI been funded so far?

During 2012 – 2014, initial funding of $880k was periodically raised which supported the JESI software development, proof of concept and established global market validation.

In 2016, JESI was the first regional business to receive direct investment funding from the Queensland Government under the Advance Queensland scheme. JESI received a $500,000 investment from Future Now Ventures matched by a grant from Advance Queensland’s $40 million Business Development Fund, raising a total of $1 million.

JESI is currently seeking a Series A investment of $1.25 million from a “smart” investor. Mike Wallas from Enterprise Growth Solutions is leading the raise and expects the funding to be committed from VC firms who have an interest in the mobile and remote workforce solution space as well as investors seeking exposure to global markets.

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