The growth of JESI, or Journey Events Safety Innovations, mirrors the evolution of regional entrepreneurship in QLD and, more specifically, reflects a recent push from the Townsville startup scene.
Founded in 2012, JESI launched its journey management technology in March last year, a communication system that monitors departure/arrival statistics for travelling workforces and, without using GPS tracking, sends automated responses when travellers fail to check in upon arrival.
Director and co-founder Joe Hoolahan describes it as “tech that everybody who travels could use” but specifically ideal for remote and travel-heavy industries such as mining and engineering.
“In a workplace context we all have people travelling everywhere, whether they be sales reps or drive-in-drive-out miners or people in urban environments,” Hoolahan says. “And it’s not even a case of ‘if something were to happen,’ it’s also a case of ‘how soon would we know that something had happened’ or ‘how soon could we actually be able to be there supporting them or letting people know that they’re okay’.”
Both its location and focus on workplace safety bring to mind Townsville’s other recent success story, SafetyCulture, although JESI’s focus on journey management distinguishes it from SafetyCulture’s auditing technology.
More importantly, JESI demonstrates how regional startups can overcome traditional challenges and give back to the industry. While developing the concept, Hoolahan and co-founder Matthew Tebble searched for local software agencies but, for lack of better options, ultimately had the technology developed in Brisbane.
Since then members of JESI have made growing the north QLD startup scene a priority, notably Hoolahan, who helped run Townsville’s first Startup Weekend last year, and key developer Richard Sazima, who is currently organising an intensive startup course for April this year.
“The thing that Matt and I are passionate about is that [during our] first 12 months in a regional centre, it was very old and traditional and not necessarily good for startups or the work we did,” Hoolahan says. “And that’s our passion to give to other people, that they don’t waste those first 12 months like we did – not waste, but have a lot of time [spent] spinning wheels.”
Despite its difficult start, JESI has since made inroads in a number of industries, notably local clients TAFE Queensland North and Shamrock Civil. The company also has an unnamed Texas-based client and, proving again how valuable concepts can thrive in a global marketplace, is currently fielding calls from around the world.
“We’re dealing with two international companies at the moment in Euston, a civil engineering company using it exclusively through Papua New Guinea, and an international mining company based in the Pilbara,” Hoolahan says. “Those heavy industries are accustomed to journey management.”
“We’ve got clients contacting us from Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Canada and USA,” he says. “We are a startup from Townsville, which has its own regional challenges, but it seems the success of what we’re doing means these companies around the world are actually finding us.”