Brisbane startup Obzervr helps mining and energy companies track environmental data through the cloud

- July 9, 2015 3 MIN READ

For all the money and increasingly sophisticated technology in the energy and mining sectors, the majority of companies are still collecting vast amounts of environmental field data using pen and paper. Brisbane startup Obzervr is looking to bring these companies into the 21st century.

After years spent working in the oil and gas industries watching scientists collect data on paper, CEO Tania Walter created Obzervr, a cloud data management platform which allows for scientists to both collect environmental field data, such as water and soil information, and validate it immediately.

“I was coming into contact with lots of laboratories, and I realised that we were implementing million dollar head office solutions, but at no stage was any data actually coming in from a mobile device. It was all being captured on paper and then having to be recaptured at another stage. If scientists were out in the field for 2 or 3 weeks, it would comes in 3 or 4 weeks later once they actually got back to the office and decided that they were actually ready to recapture the data,” Walter said.

“It meant that were lots of errors in the data, there was lots of rework and there was a huge time delay in actually getting the data in.”

Available across web and mobile, the platform allows for users to report on organisational compliance and environmental management to key stakeholders and regulators, collect data on the lifecycle of land, conduct risk assessments, and manage workflow. Users are able to use the platform offline, with data then syncing when online.

Walter and her partner and co-founder Marc Walter, a programmer, took the idea from concept to launch in just six months.

Though barely two months old, Walter said Obzervr has already faced pushback from existing pen and paper-based solutions, who see the huge potential of the startup to change the way things are done.

“They didn’t have mobile applications and I knew they didn’t because I worked with them, and they started feeling like we were going to start stealing business from them, which we will…our biggest competitor is still, and will always be, a piece of paper and pen. It’s always going to be easier to just get a piece of paper out and write something down,” Walter said.

There are other digital solution in the market, though Walter believes they don’t offer the same degree of sophistication as Obzervr, which allows for the management and tracking of workflow processes rather than just simple data collection forms.

Through both her own background in the industry and user testing with clients, Walter knew that there was demand for Obzervr.

“The need was out there, not only just for environment data, but for workforce path-lines and water treatment facilities and general audits and inspections. We were trying to keep up with that demand and keep adding more features to the solution, while still doing customer development,” she said.

Obzervr originally launched with a model allowing companies to pay for what they use, or $9 per assignment – each time a user went to a location to do testing – but have introduced a monthly subscription – $199 per user – for bigger companies who wanted to be able to budget for the financial year.

Pentair, The Department of Science, Innovation, and Technology, and Healthy Waterways are already Obzervr clients, while the startup has also partnered with a number of companies, including Prospect Group and Eagle.io. International expansion is also on the horizon, with Obzervr being picked up by a company in Atlanta, Georgia, and interest shown in Canada.

Walter is currently looking to raise a seed round to help fund this expansion.