“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.” Dean Kamen — inventor, entrepreneur and science and technology advocate
Applying technology to an everyday challenge is something Queensland innovator and Quick Safety CEO, Kurt Alexander has managed to turn into a big idea — and in the process, developed into a life-saving innovation.
Quick Safety’s App for the electrical trade sector is a savvy tech solution that makes it easier to complete on-the-job Certificates of Compliance, not only saving time but reducing the safety risks often faced by electricians.
After working in the electrical industry for more than 38 years, Kurt has spent hours watching electricians battle compliance documentation and conducting cumbersome safety processes that he knew could be made more efficient, and more importantly, safer with the right technology.
While his first-hand experience was enough to get him thinking about how he could improve the everyday challenges faced by electrical tradesmen, Kurt said the necessity of finding a better way was really driven home by avoidable and devastating industry events.
“When Queensland tragically lost four tradesmen on the job during the home insulation scheme, I knew the safety alert system was broken, but I thought, surely now someone would fix it, surely someone would address the issues that are endangering our electricians,” Kurt said.
“Then we had a nation-wide infinity cable recall, this cost the industry over $300 million worth of damage.
“These incidents were the final straw for me, I could not sit back and watch an industry I loved be exposed to so much danger, just waiting for someone else to fix the problem.
“So, I set out to fix the problem myself. I began the journey of designing, gathering industry knowledge, gathering government advice, pushing the boundaries of the old establishment and getting them to accept a new way of thinking.
“I wanted to create a direct communications pathway between the existing 23 local, state and federal agencies that put out safety alerts to affected electricians on the ground.
“Currently electricians rely on their electrical contractor to pass on these alerts. Not knowing or understanding the safety alert system, the contractor signs up for maybe a maximum of 2 of these 23 email alerts, so most of the time the alerts never get to the guys and girls out in the field, posing a risk to those on the job.”
“I knew this had to change, but I also knew I had to have an effective working tool that electricians would easily and effectively access in the normal course of their work. This is how the idea of an AS/NZS 3000 compliance mobile App first came to fruition.”
Quick Safety’s drive to improve the safety and compliance of the electrical industry with a tech solution sparked attention from some big players, and in 2016 they were crowned one of four winners of the Small Business Challenge, sponsored by BlueChilli, CCIQ, Suncorp and Microsoft.
In 2018, the company was successful in its application for Round 4 of the Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas Fund, giving them the boost needed to get the App onto the market and in the hands of those who needed it most.
Kurt said Quick Safety would not have progressed in releasing three, fully certified commercial tech solutions to market, without Advance Queensland’s support.
“Our Ignite Ideas funding has been the catalyst to our success to date, it has allowed us to broaden our horizons to search for the best possible solution for our customers, at a super effective cost.”
“It has afforded us the ability to research and test new applications of crucial data storage, ensuring we have a court admissible document, removing risk from the electricians, electrical contractors and asset owners.
“It gave us the capacity to hire our first developers for the initial beta release App, then our CVP App for residential and commercial AS/NZS3000 as well as our AS/ZNS 3017 compliant Inspection and Testing App for market release.
“We would have never been able to bring the Electrical Industry Safety Alerts to life at this early stage — we are about 8 months ahead of schedule now — without the Ignite Ideas Fund.”
Quick Safety’s Electrical Inspection and Testing App means more than 208,000 electricians across Australia and New Zealand now have a centralised platform that connects them while on the job.
The App captures all 23 electrical channels across Australia and New Zealand, filtering and sorting according to priority, from HIGH to normal. Low level alerts sit on the homepage while HIGH priorities are pushed out to the App, locking the screen instantly and making the electrician open, read and acknowledge the alerts, before continuing with their work.
In addition to the in-App functionality of a HIGH priority alert, a message is also sent warning of the alert, meaning it captures communication with everyone, whether they are working, on a lunch break or off on a leave day.
“The release of our new, free safety alerts through the existing App ensures all staff in the field are protected. This will save lives, prevent injuries and prevent industry damage.”
Quick Safety’s world-class, certified App is the first of its kind in Australia, a tech solution that Kurt plans to incorporate across other industry sectors and expand globally.
“We have 281 additions in the pipeline and we will continue working with State Electrical Regulators, NECA, METS, NERA and our many other industry supporters to bring these tech solutions to the electrical industry, across Queensland and Australia,” Kurt said.
“As Quick Safety has been built in a way that can be quickly adapted to address standards across any industry, we have also been approached for mandates by other industry sectors and plan to expand our capabilities to meet these needs.
“There’s intense pressure for tradesmen and women in all industries to do more in less time and they need the proper tools in their hands in order to achieve the proficiency that is expected of them.
“Leveraging technology to alleviate these pressures will provide better outcomes for everyone. If we continue to operate without technology, industries will die or be replaced far earlier than they would have, if only they innovated.”
“The world is changing and innovation and technology will help save our industry by making it safer, more proficient, more cost-effective and more profitable for all.
Looking to the future, Quick Safety plan to harness their global road-map and pursue electrical compliance safety right around the world.
When asked what tips he had for budding Queensland innovators and entrepreneurs, Kurt had this advice:
Do your customer acquisition process VERY early
“Ensure that people will buy or use your product or idea early on. It may mean a totally different path is needed. Do it with the people who are “really” honest with you, complete strangers. Don’t ask your family or friends, they love you and don’t want to bust your bubble.”
Get imbedded in the local startup scene
“Queensland is a great place to meet other innovators, learn from their journeys and to have assistance when you need it. Starting out in Toowoomba, Canvas Coworking and Startup Toowoomba were critical for us. Our initial company start came from one single meeting at Canvas Coworking in January 2016. Who knows where we would be at if it hadn’t had been for that meeting? Maybe we wouldn’t have even been.”
Realise early that not all money is good money
“Choose your investors, it is a partnership and one that hopefully will last forever. Listen to your gut and not your head or your bank account.”
Look for opportunities, they are literally everywhere!
“Things like partnerships, funding, networks, investors, expanding your knowledge, people (build a great team!) and anything that comes your way.”
Stay true and stay focused.
“Don’t chase the ‘shiny’ things, there will be more things sucking up your time than you could have ever imagined. Stay true to your passion and calling. Once again — follow that voice inside you, it really is your best guide.”
Visit the Advance Queensland to find more opportunities to support your entrepreneurial journey.