Startup News & Analysis

SafetyCulture has raised $60 million, but founder Luke Anear says the best funding comes when you don’t need it

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

SafetyCulture Luke Anear

SafetyCulture's Luke Anear. Source: Supplied.

Australian workplace safety startup SafetyCulture has raised $60 million in its Series C funding round, and founder Luke Anear says the company that started with two people in a garage is now thinking much, much bigger.

The latest funding round was led by New York investment firm Tiger Global Management, with previous investors also contributing, including Blackbird Ventures, Index Ventures, Morpheus Ventures and Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar. The raise values the startup at $440 million. 

It follows SafetyCulture’s Series B funding in October 2016, when it secured $30 million. Anear tells StartupSmart that, even when the latest $60 million was secured, the startup still had $18 million of its Series B funds in the bank.

“The best kind of raise is when you don’t need it,” Anear says.

“But it’s also a case of thinking bigger.”

Anear points out that, globally, a vast majority of people have never heard of SafetyCulture, and “that is something we are going to change”.

This latest capital will be geared towards further developing the technology, growing the team and customer base, and “taking our products to the rest of the world”, Anear says.

SafetyCulture is also already investing in a team focused on the Internet of Things who researching the use of sensors to help customers collect additional data.

While the startup’s iAuditor app already collects 300 million audit responses per year, adding sensor-collected data to human-entered data can help clients to better understand “what’s working well, what’s not working well, and what to do about it”. 

“We don’t believe in collecting more data for the sake of it. We want to focus on meaningful data that helps our customers run their businesses better,” says Anear.

He adds that it “feels like we’re just at the beginning of our journey”, and he plans to continue the fast growth of the SafetyCulture team. The company now employs 214 people, up from 85 employees 12 months ago, and Anear says that’s likely to double each year.

“That’s sustainable for us in terms of keeping a great culture,” he says.

And culture is an important point for SafetyCulture. Anear says the hardest part of the journey for him has been “growing personally at the rate of opportunity”.

“In the garage, we thought very differently [about] how to solve problems, [compared to] today when we have a significant amount of capital in the bank,” he says. 

While he says the rate of growth and fundraising has been “surreal”, Anear says the SafetyCulture team is “here to solve a global problem, not just to build the next tech company”.

Anear says he would advise startups still at the beginning of their journey to “focus on getting traction as fast as you can”.

It’s much easier to create a free user-base first and then try to monetise that through additional paid products and services, than it is to build up a user base for an unproven paid model, he says. 

“Getting customers to use the product validates the business model,” he says.

Traction leads to funding and growth, Anear says. And to get that traction you have to be “solving a problem that matters to people”.

NOW READ: How SafetyCulture is refreshing itself after a year of massive growth

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is a reporter at StartupSmart.

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