ThunderMaps

Making the world a safer place, one dangerous location at a time.

WATCH OUT, YOU’RE ABOUT TO STEP INTO A SINKHOLE!!

TM-Green-OriginalThere’s an app for that. It’s built in Wellington, it’s being used all over the world, and it’s called ThunderMaps.

ThunderMaps enables businesses and governments to crowdsource hazard locations, and then let employees and citizens know when they’re in danger in real time.

Employees and citizens can enter hazard data from a mobile app, which is then used to warn people, analyse trends, take corrective action where possible, and generally reduce risk and improve safety. Think “Waze for danger.”

They integrate with over 500 services including Google sheets, Zendesk, Salesforce, Slack. They also have facility to integrate open data sources such as weather, fire, police callouts, earthquakes, etc. Integration is also two way, so you can pull data from ThunderMaps into other systems.

ThunderMaps charges clients with a small monthly per-user charge, plus a one-time setup fee for large organisations that want to “show leadership” with their own branded app.

In New Zealand, health and safety is a big issue, especially with the introduction last month of regulations under the new Health and Safety Act. In the new post-Pike River regime, company officers and directors can end up in prison for not taking all practical measures to provide a safe workplace. It has been, and will continue to be on the board agendas of all of the NZ boards I’m on.

It’s not only a local issue – health and safety is a global concern. Globally, 6,300 people die per day, and 1m people per day are injured in work-related accidents. That’s shocking. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 4% of global GDP is lost due to injury or death at work. That’s expensive. We investors often talk about “pain points” in a figurative sense, but this pain is very real.

Although the company has only been trading for 23 months, they already have 10m dangerous locations recorded in their database, and they’re gunning to make that 100m in the next year. They’ve gone from zero to 17 staff worldwide in that period, and currently have 200+ customers with over 8,000 users. Revenues are growing at about 20% month-on-month. They recently won a European Union tender for city wide implementations, and have made sales to three European cities so far. Other customers range from big organisations like Downer EDI Works, TBfree NZ, Gannet Offshore, World Wildlife Fund and the NZ Fire Service, right down to medium and small businesses that just need a simple way to make health and safety easy.

As an example, TBfree NZ is charged with eliminating bovine tuberculosis in New Zealand. Wandering around cattle farms can be a dangerous business – there are all sorts of hazards like terrain, chemicals, and dogs. The main source of TB is possums, and trapping possums is also dangerous. ThunderMaps helps reduce risk by documenting these hazards and automatically making the people at risk aware of them with location-based alerts. Being concerned for and looking after employees helps TBfree NZ attract and retain staff. Governments prefer to let out contracts to companies who take health and safety seriously, and so ThunderMaps makes it easier for its customers to win RFPs. Everybody wins.

Clint van Marrewijk
Chris Noldus

ThunderMaps is led by CEO Clint van Marrewijk, who was looking for the next big thing after completing his earnout period when Kiwibank bought Gareth Morgan Kiwisaver. I first met Clint at Startup Weekend Wellington in 2015, so I guess can say that I knew him before he was famous. He’s put together a stellar team, and has attracted top talent to his board including local heroes JD Trask and Victoria MacLennan. CTO Chris Noldus has an extensive track record in just about in more open source technologies than you can name in one breath, and was the guy who developed the iPredict prediction marketplace. They have offices in The Terrace in Wellington, London, and Gothenburg Sweden.

Ideas are great, but sometimes they get in the way. Given the choice between doing something cool and shipping product, shipping product will always win…

Why The Terrace and not Cuba Street? The team culture is very focused on getting stuff done. Clint says, “Ideas are great, but sometimes they get in the way. Given the choice between doing something cool and shipping product, shipping product will always win at ThunderMaps. We’re running a business that saves lives, not an agency.”

They’ve been mainly self-funded by their founders, and they’ve taken on a small chunk of angel investment. They’re working toward raising Series A late this year to fuel international growth.

We currently live in an era where for the first time, everything is becoming knowable. The facts that can save your life risk being drowned in an ocean of big data. ThunderMaps organises this critical knowledge into accessible, actionable, and auditable alerts. While we can’t completely eliminate risks – we’ll never be able to fence off every sinkhole – we can identify and mitigate those risks. ThunderMaps is one of those rare apps that might save your life, or the lives of one of your coworkers or family members some day.

Syngency

Cloud-based management software for talent agencies, as beautiful as the models themselves.

syngencySyngency is a cloud-based system for talent, modelling, and acting agencies. It makes it easy to manage their talent pools and market themselves to the industry. It’s a one-stop solution that covers everything from onboarding wannabes to invoicing customers. And it just looks beautiful.

When I’m evaluating investment opportunities for businesses at any stage, the single most important factor is always the same: does the CEO have what it takes to make the business a success? ryan-brighterI haven’t met many people who are as effective as Syngency’s CEO Ryan Marshall. He is the very model of a modern startup entrepreneur. First and foremost, he’s always hustling. He loves his industry and his product, and seems to be out there either selling or thinking about how to sell 24 hours a day, working networks, racking up air miles, Skyping at 3am, he just doesn’t seem to know how to stop. He’s intimately familiar with his market, having talked to most of the major players and continually popping up at industry events. He knows his product inside-out because he’s coded most of it himself. He seems to have a sixth sense for opportunity, and isn’t shy to act quickly and seize it.

I first met Ryan at BNZ Startup Alley at Webstock early this year, where Syngency was a finalist. You could say that Startup Alley is the premier startup competition in New Zealand. Syngency didn’t win (that prize was taken out by Startup Weekend alumnus Banqer – more on them in the future) but Syngency still knocked the socks off of the judges. As a result, they won a trip to the Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco.

NOTE: BNZ Startup Alley applications for 2016 are open now. It’s a great place to showcase your startup, practice pitching to a big crowd, and kickstart your action plan for the year.

Syngency entered the iiiNNO accelerator in Taiwan a few months later. They were one of two non-Taiwanese companies in the accelerator, and according to iiiNNO’s manager David Kuo, were by far the highest performing company there, and earned the privilege of launching at TechCrunch Asia. While at iiiNNO, Syngency attracted a significant number of clients all over Asia, including the unfortunately named but otherwise awesome ISIS Modelling Agency. They also achieved a key milestone by scoring a local mobile development team. Syngency did a great job of raising the profile of NZ startups in Asia.

From Taiwan, Syngency continued their world tour, and set up a base at Kiwi Landing Pad (KLP) in San Francisco. Ryan now spends a lot of time dashing between New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco where their key US markets are.  KLP has been a great fit for them – see the video below for a synopsis.

Syngency’s target market is big, over $100m in the US and Europe alone. They now have customers in 30 countries, managing the talent profiles of over 40,000 models and actors and they’ll finish up 2015 with over 40x growth since the beginning of the year. Their solution is also easy to take into adjacent markets such as film production and sports.

Currently they’re executing a direct sales strategy and collecting most of their business through referrals from happy customers.

Syngency will be raising investment in early 2016, likely in a trans-pacific mix between New Zealand and California.

Meantime, they’re expanding their dev team in Auckland – they’re looking for a CTO and LAMP devs familiar with the full AWS suite. They’re excited about running a global Kiwi company from New Zealand, and they’d like you to join them!