Document management has shifted from physical storage in folders and binders to cloud-based storage through services that provide secure and easy access. Within the last year in particular we have seen the launch of more online solutions catering to compliance management and offering storage solutions for niche markets like the mining sector.
To tackle the obvious compliance document problem startups like TradePapers, iCompLii and Qualuon have created platforms focusing on the trade sector. With multiple startups like these popping up to serve the blue collar industry, other sectors like education, sport and hospitality have had to rely mostly on Dropbox and Google Drive for cloud storage.
While these online platforms provide storage space, they fail to offer adequate documentation management, acting like an online resume holder rather than a compliance management system. To fill the gap in this area Melbourne startup BlueQ has created an online qualification and accreditation storage and management solution with a specific focus on the education sector.
BlueQ was founded in 2014 by Nathan Merzvinskis and Hugh Krantz, who were sport centre managers at a local high school. They saw the need for teachers to have an online repository where they could store renewable qualifications like their working with children checks and first aid certificates. On the other hand they also saw the need for schools to aggregate this information and stay on top of compliance.
“In our role as sports centre managers we had to have our working with children check, our first aid certificate, and Certificate III in fitness as well as a few other qualifications. Most of these qualifications expired and they expired at various intervals which made it very difficult to keep track of when these needed renewing,” explained Merzvinskis.
BlueQ currently offers its product to individuals for free and provides storage for all types of qualifications and accreditation. The service comes with a renewal notifications option that alerts users when a certificate is 90 to 14 days out from expiry. Added features include an automated verification process that cross checks any uploaded qualifications.
For instance, if a user adds in their working with children check in Victoria they can click ‘verify qualification’ and BlueQ will cross check that qualification with the Victorian Department of Justice and Regulations database to ensure all checks are verified.
For organisations, BlueQ manages all employees qualifications to ensure compliance with industry regulations. The product is set up as a pay per user model, with payment plans varying depending on the size of the organisation. Merzvinskis said the average price is $10 per user.
Organisations are able to aggregate all qualifications through their employees’ personal BlueQ accounts. This also enables employers to eliminate the need for administration to take on the consuming task of chasing up workers to renew their certificates or entering and processing data.
“What we’ve seen is that through our experience dealing with many many different sporting organisations ranging from clubs through to large leagues, a lot of them just have ad hoc or unreliable ways of trying to aggregate this information,” explained Merzvinskis.
“They’re dealing with things like spreadsheets or just throwing the data on their mobile phones and it’s not enabling them to stay on top of when their staff need to actually renew their qualifications, and it can lead to non-compliant workers dealing with children.”
To solve these compliance issues BlueQ initially focused on schools, however Merzvinskis found the same issues were experienced by sporting clubs and camp organisations where compliance in terms of working with children was also important.
Both Merzvinskis and Krantz began speaking to people in other industries like sport and hospitality and found that the same issue had yet to be addressed.
“We realised that this was quite a translatable pain point so basically anyone that requires a renewable qualification to be compliant with their role,” said Merzvinskis.
BlueQ first launched its product in January this year and has been working on expanding distribution. Its biggest client so far is the South Metro Junior Footy League with 1,800 users. Merzvinskis said the beauty with this type of workforce is that it is very transitory.
“Once we get them using their BlueQ account for one job, they’ve often got several other jobs or they move around a few jobs and they get to take their BlueQ account around with them and share their qualifications with other employers so there’s a lot of inbuilt marketability within the product itself.”
In February this year BlueQ secured a $100,000 seed funding raise through private investors. This enabled the team to get their product off the ground and prove its viability. Neither cofounder has a technical background so the first raise also went to hiring technicians, with the aim to help develop features that can challenge what is already on the market.
The next big step for BlueQ is to roll out the product to other sectors who need storage and management for important documentation. Merzvinskis said he wants BlueQ to become the gold standard for digital qualification storage and management.
“We’ve got big dreams and we’re not trying to limit ourselves to any sector. That’s seen through all of the different clients that we’ve approached and been able to get to date.”
Image: Nathan Merzvinskis and Hugh Krantz. Source: Supplied