Funding

Queensland startup JESI closes $1 million seed round led by the state government

Denham Sadler /

A Queensland mobile workforce software startup has closed a $1 million seed round led by a state government co-investment, the first funding dished out to a regional company.

Townsville-based JESI, which offers B2B software to track workers movements between sites, secured $500,000 in funding from the Queensland government’s Business Development Fund along with a co-investment of the same amount from Future Now Ventures.

JESI founder and CEO Joe Hoolahan says he applied to Advance Queensland for the funding in December, and the “long” process has provided several lessons.

“Just be patient and prepared to be very clear about what the business is about,” Hoolahan tells StartupSmart.

“This process has proven that you have to be diligent in your business practices and knowledge.

“This is fantastic validation and reward for the team.”

JESI 2

A global business from Townsville

JESI offers a workforce solution that aims to make the movements of workers safer by tracking and reporting across different work sites. The software platform reminds users to check-in at locations and if they fail to do so an automated alert process is activated.

The company is still based in Townsville but also has a US presence in Houston and has secured a business partner in Oman to provide Arabic translations and business development in the country.

The cash injection into the two-year old startup will be used for one thing: scale.

“It really is about getting the product to develop as far as we can as soon as possible,” Hoolahan says.

“We have a fairly ambitious roadmap of where we want the product to go.”

It marks the first time Advance Queensland has invested in a startup outside of Brisbane, and the founder says he’s proud to be a “cheerleader for the powerful potential of regional startups”.

“As a regional startup it is a bit more difficult,” he says.

“We don’t have the same access to population, market, talent or the people that have been there.”

Government looking regional

Queensland treasurer Curtis Pitt says JESI is an example of a local startup succeeding on the world stage.

“This is the first regional investment made by the Business Development Fund and it’s great to see a Townsville-based company leading the way in creating a real-time monitoring of journeys, enabling employers to respond immediately in the event of an emergency,” Pitt says in a statement.

The Business Development Fund invests between $125,000 and $2.5 million in startups through a co-investment strategy.

Now backed by funding, Hoolahan says the Townsville startup is now set to rapidly expand.

“We’ve got an up-curve and some major clients,” he says.

“This is perfect timing for us.”

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Denham Sadler

Denham Sadler is a former editor of StartupSmart. He was previously a journalist at the publication and has worked as a freelancer for the Guardian, the Saturday Paper and the ABC. In his spare time he likes puns and jaffles.

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