ParaSpace - Checklist solutions for safety, compliance and maintenance inspections

There were more than 15,000 serious injuries caused by heavy machinery, $500 million in compliance fines and $1.5 billion spent on corrective maintenance in the Australian equipment hire industry last year.

Safety, compliance and maintenance are critical job functions in heavy industries and have a significant impact on the health, efficiency and expense of an organisation’s workforce.

ParaSpace provides checklist solutions for safety, compliance and maintenance inspections, using a machine agnostic IoT device and web app. This empowers operators to collect high quality, accurate data about equipment and surroundings and gives management everything they need to make informed decisions about equipment and personnel.

“The key to reducing these issues is putting processes in place that allow frontline workers to identify issues and gather high quality data about equipment and surroundings. However, with many organisations still using pen and paper, there is a need for a solution that makes it dead simple to gather this data, and shortens the feedback loop between maintenance, safety and operational departments,” co-founder Ryan Pousson says.

Ryan and co-founder David Chaseling started ParaSpace as a software development agency, completing mainly VR and AR projects for clients such as Hyuandi, Suzuki and Lendlease.

“One of these projects was a VR working safely at heights, which familiarised us with the issues heavy industries face around safety and compliance and the outdated technologies they rely on to train employees and monitor conditions on the ground,” Ryan says.

“This prompted us to start ParaSpace in October 2018, which was originally centred around VR training for high risk construction work. Late last year, we decided to pivot towards a product that had more of an impact on the daily lives of industrial workers. Around the same time that we decided to pivot, we were accepted into the Techstars Accelerator in Lisbon and made the move from Brisbane over to Portugal.

“Despite all the stress that comes with a pivot and being stuck in a new country when COVID-19 hit, we have managed to launch our new checklist solution in six months and we are currently running pilots with top tier manufacturing companies in Europe, with many more in the pipeline in Australia.”

A big challenge for the team was pivoting away from their VR background.

“VR was a technology that we saw a lot of potential in, but we realised the business wasn’t as scalable as we had first thought and it was a solution-first approach, rather than a problem-first approach,” Ryan says.

“I’m glad we were able to learn from our customers and pivot to something that makes a more tangible difference in the way people work in heavy industries. This has been a highlight for us.”

Another highlight for the ParaSpace team was winning their first international client.

“We launched our first pilot of the new product with a Portugese pulp and paper manufacturer, The Navigator Company, in late August. Winning this international client has been the biggest highlight we’ve had so far,” Ryan says.

“We learnt a lot through the entire process of going over to Portugal, being involved in the Techstars Accelerator and managing to scope out and launch the project remotely once COVID-19 hit.

“The feedback has been very positive so far and we have already been approved for a second phase of the pilot with a wider scope.”

Before this year, ParaSpace was bootstrapped, with the help of a few minor government grants and $20,000 equity from the UQ iLab.

“Being part of Techstars gave us $US120,000, which has helped us to spend more time working on the business rather than only working in the business,” Ryan says.

“We have lots of brilliant contractors who work for us on a part-time basis, which has allowed us to launch our new product in under six months, support our pilot customers and pursue new leads in both Europe and Australia.

“Moving forward we’re looking to raise a pre-seed round at the start of 2021. This will allow us to hire some of our current contractors as full-time employees, plus new development, support and sales staff. With these additional resources, we feel confident that we will be able to grow by at least three to four times next year.”