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Visitor management software company SwipedOn raises $1m, plans global growth while championing Tauranga and sustainability

Raising $1 million is an achievement for any company. But Tauranga-based visitor management software company SwipedOn has even greater ambitions.

It’s a problem many of us can relate to: you work in an office or own a business, and you have people coming and going who need to sign in for health and safety reasons. Or, you are a visitor. And you don’t have a pen. First World problems maybe, but talk about an inconvenience – not to mention a potential safety issue if building managers don’t know who is in their building and something happens.

Of course, electronic sign-ins are kind of a thing now – as anyone who has visited an office lately can probably attest. But did you know one of the biggest players in this industry happens to be a Tauranga-based company? And that their sign-in application has been used by more than five million people around the world? And that they’ve just raised a million dollars?

Now you know a bit about SwipedOn.

The software company is in position for accelerated growth after reaching $1 million in revenue, and raising another million dollars in capital.

Founded in 2013, SwipedOn is a software-as-a-service company that replaces paper visitor books with an iPad application. Originally with no financial backing or sales team, it is now used by businesses in more than 2,000 cities worldwide.

SwipedOn founder and CEO Hadleigh Ford says he’s pretty excited about where things are going. “Last year we circulated our November update with the latest client numbers and revenue details, and as a result a number of investors were keen to take a larger stake,” he says. “Because of this we extended the commitment period by 24 hours and raised a further $150,000 – an eventual oversubscription of $300,000.”

The bulk of the funds came from Enterprise Angels, K1W1 and NZVIF, which like SwipedOn are based in Tauranga. Enterprise Angels Manager Nina Le Lievre says the company was an attractive prospect with such an impressive growth story. “Software-as-a-service model companies are very appealing to investors,” she explains. “The recurring revenue provides many benefits, the most appealing being the increasing sales and profit margins, plus revenue and customer retention is typically higher.”

That’s not all that’s going on. Entrepreneur, investor and tech commentator Ben Kepes has come on board as chair, and Colin Groves (chair of Oriens Capital and Waikato Rugby, former head of mergers and acquisitions for Tetra Laval and an active NZ and UK company director) as investor director.

From the beginning of 2016, SwipedOn has focused on one core product: an iPad-based visitor management system that replaces outdated visitor books with a sleek, simple and modern solution. “We’re focused on SME businesses with employee counts between 20 and 500, but interest in SwipedOn comes from all directions,” says Ford. “SwipedOn is very economical, starting at just US$19 per month which gives us the edge over most of our competitors, as they’re pursuing enterprise customers. Our product is deliberately lower-cost and simpler, targeting the bigger market opportunity that is small and mid-sized businesses.”

Aside from SwipedOn’s software being better for the environment by eliminating the need for paper sign-in/sign-out sheets, Ford adds that it’s also important to convey a message to visitors that an office embraces technology and the future. “It looks better for that first impression.”

Ford also says SwipedOn’s software is a more efficient way to streamline the sign-in/sign-out process, which can improve safety.

Ford says the $1 million capital raise will be used to help grow the business worldwide – and possibly to add more employees in Aotearoa. The time felt right to raise capital, he says. “We’ve worked really hard. We feel it’s time to add fuel to the fire.”

That’s not all Ford has to say on the subject. “We started in the regions in New Zealand and we’ve moved the business to Tauranga, where we have more than 20 employees, but 90 per cent of our customers are international,” he says. “Since we raised capital, we’ve been able to employ five new full-time staff. I’ve been impressed with the talent we have seen applying for the roles and we’re really happy with the team we are building in Tauranga.”

Ford’s love for Tauranga is evident. “This business could be based anywhere,” he says. “We found Tauranga offered the best lifestyle opportunities. It’s also about attracting talent. We find people really like the beach lifestyle.”

Speaking of lifestyle, Ford also mentions something else SwipedOn is doing. For every customer that signs up, the company plants a tree in a reserve in the Kaimai Range, located in the northeastern part of the North Island.

Ford says the whole idea simply comes down to wanting to make a positive difference and to make the world a better place. “It’s something out customers get a lot of pleasure out of, and we’re quite proud of,” he says. “This is the sustainable thing to do.”

Ford is also passionate about sustainable business, and says there are some lessons other entrepreneurs can learn from SwipedOn’s journey thus far. “The one lesson for me is perseverance and not giving up,” he says. “Believing in yourself and having that drive.”

Sage advice for any endeavour.

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