In five years Luke Anear’s business, SafetyCulture, took their iAuditor app from an idea on a drawing board to a key workplace essential valued last October at over $160million, with a whopping thirty million users, three global offices and over 140 employees.
Reading those stats, you’d be forgiven for thinking he had a smooth road to success – but you’d also be wrong.
Luke not only took the hard road, he also took multiple wrong turns, abandoned the path altogether and came back only to find he was in the wrong place to begin with.
“SafetyCulture originally started on Ingham Road as a safety document business called Wade’s Business Solutions,” Luke says, half laughing, half smiling at the memories of his first attempt. “My mum had Wade’s Distributors, which was an oil company, so I created this and thought, ‘people in Townsville know the name Wade’s, so I should start another company with that name because then people might use that product,” he adds with a grin.
One of the most humbling aspects about Luke is the fact that he’s the first person to admit that both his original business and first app were both “terrible”. After going back to the drawing board, Luke turned an app that he says “no one used” into a global success story.
“The first app we built was a risk assessment app and it was terrible,” he laughs. “We created it in three months and it was too restrictive. Then we created our checklist app, iAuditor, and straight away people started downloading,” he adds.
Luke’s iAuditor app increase workplace safety by making routine safety inspections super easy and mobile friendly for workplaces – and it’s not just a hit here in the ‘Ville!
“We were literally in my garage at Mt Low with a TV screen up and we could see people all around the world using our app,” Luke says.
Speaking to Luke, it’s obvious that he has a savvy mind and an incredible amount of enthusiasm, but there was only one problem: he wasn’t a developer.
“In the garage we were a bunch of kids. We didn’t know how to build a tech company that could be used globally by millions of people. We just wanted to build an app. Then we had to figure out how to build a back end and so much more, so it was constantly us asking each other, ‘who do we know that’s smart and can help us with this?’ he says, a genuine smile spread across his face.
The word ‘startup’ is often synonymous with ‘struggle’, but it seems like people forget about these bumps in the road the moment another ‘s’ word comes in: success. Luke completely does away with this myth, laying bare all the problems he faced before and during the time his company was on the fast-track to success.
“You never start out with a clear vision from start to finish, like you would when building a house,” he says. “It was constantly a pursuit of trying to find people with experience who could build parts of the software we didn’t know how to build. We’d get university students in who had no idea what to do, but we’d give them a chance anyway. We didn’t know how to build teams, we didn’t know how to interview. All these things we’ve had to learn,” says Luke. “As in any fast growing company, the challenge for us is to be able to grow personally at the same rate that the opportunity requires us to. That’s the biggest challenge. To be better and more effective at what we do each day.” he says.
From a startup idea in the garage to a multi-million dollar business, Luke Anear’s story is huge and incredibly inspiring. However, the real gem in this story doesn’t lay in the impressive numbers, it lies in the fact that technology disintegrated borders and allowed Luke to take his startup to a global audience. If one man in a Mt Low garage can do it, so can you.