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.

Publons

Speeding up science through the power of peer review.

publons2Scientific research is the key thing that moves our society forward, expanding the boundaries of human knowledge, enabling us to rigorously test which things are true, false, or needing further inquiry. It enables everything from cellphone technology to antibiotics.

The main output of scholarly research is published articles in peer-reviewed journals. Peer review is essential because it prevents incomplete or shoddy work from being accepted as scientific fact. The peer reviewers however don’t get any recognition or compensation for the work they do, and there is no standard system for rating the quality of their reviews. Finding the right reviewers for an article can be difficult too, and managing the review process is time consuming.

Publons solves these problems by augmenting the standard peer review process, improving reviewer selection, and giving authoritative credit to reviewers that they can use for career advancement. The net result is that the peer review process is shortened at the same time the quality of scientific output is increased. By turning peer review into a measurable research output, Publons provides a new lens through which the quality and significance of research, researchers, publications, and institutions can be evaluated and reported.

Daniel Johnston
Daniel Johnston
Dr Andrew Preston
Dr Andrew Preston

Publons was founded by Dr Andrew Preston and Daniel Johnston. After completing a Ph.D and post-doc work in solid-state physics, and publishing and peer reviewing a number of papers, Preston recognised the opportunity and started building the core of the Publons system. After being accepted into Lightning Lab Wellington 2013, Publons started building up its user base and inventory of journal articles.  They now have over 50,000 users, 285,000 reviews, and thousands of journals in the system. Just over 1% of all reviews generated in 2015 globally were recorded by Publons.

Publons’ revenue model is based on fees collected from publishers to integrate into the platform, and charges to academic institutions and research funders who pay for access to tools that help them monitor and evaluate their research interests.

Preston moved to London mid-2015 to be closer to his main market – academic publishers. Much of the future growth of the company will be globally from the UK, while product development and operations remain in Wellington.

Publons recently closed a significant investment round for a small stake in the company by the fifth largest academic publisher in the world, SAGE. The investment will provide enough runway to last eighteen months or so as the company continues to expand its partnerships with publishers, grow its user community, and prove out the revenue model.

Publons is hiring devs, growth hackers, sales people, and a product manager in both Wellington and London.  Do get in touch with them if you’re interested.

Disclosure: I’m Chairman of the Board of Publons, and part of the AngelHQ syndicate that provided their seed investment.

NomosOne

nomos-logoNomosOne is a SaaS company that automates the life cycle of commercial leases. Its main features include automated document generation and management, the ability to connect all stakeholders in a transaction, as well as instant reporting on property performance within a portfolio and reminders for important events like rent reviews and compliance filings.

They have hundreds of users including some big-name accounts in New Zealand and the UK, and have been growing at 33% per month. Revenue comes from an onboarding fee, followed by monthly subscriptions. They ambitiously aim to be a $1B+ company in five to seven years, and want to own the property management software category.

david bromleyjanine manningjonny-mirkinFounder and CEO Jonny Mirkin recently moved from Dunedin to London to set up their European office. Jonny is a lawyer with an MBA who was solving his own problem – managing all of the legal documents around property transactions, ongoing maintenance of compliance documentation and reporting. The rest of their 15-strong team is based in Dunedin including CFO Janine Manning and CTO David Bromley.

I asked Jonny what their biggest challenge has been to date, and he answered with a common refrain that I often hear from founders: balancing the drive to build the business versus spending time fundraising.  NomosOne is raising a significant round at the moment to make a big sales and marketing push, with some money reserved for additional development. Since starting in 2011, they’ve raised several smaller rounds, which according to Jonny have all been oversubscribed.

NomosOne’s target market is businesses that own or manage at least 10 properties, including property managers, property funds, law firms, retailers, supermarkets, ports, chain restaurants/cafes, marinas, breweries, infrastructure companies, telcos, banks etc.

NomosOne is also currently hiring salespeople in Auckland – if you know anyone who has experience in their target market and can sell SaaS, do get in contact with them.  They’re also have positions for a couple of devs in Dunedin.