From opening a bank account to enrolling a child in school or applying for a job, even the tasks that one might consider relatively simple – if time-consuming and finicky – can be made difficult for those who aren’t proficient in English.
Having arrived in Australia from Vietnam as a three year old in 1978, Laura Dang knows this all too well.
“When my family and I first arrived, my grandmother was the only one in our family who could hold a pen. When you have this family that can’t read or write their first language, and then ask them to learn English, it’s not that easy,” Dang explained.
“As a child going through the school system I ended up being the one to fill out forms, uploading details and reading letters for my family. So, my own personal experience certainly impacted the way I looked at the problem that everyone faces.”
Going on to work in the tech space, rolling out digital innovations for the likes of QBE, Westpac, and the NSW Department of Justice, Dang said she noticed that while billions of dollars were being invested in digital, exclusion of people to services continued to increase.
“I knew there was something didn’t add up,” she said.
“I noticed that no one was addressing how to enable organisations to better help consumers collate documents and complete the application process. Even today, organisations are still overwhelming consumers with paperwork and this leads to exclusion if people can’t jump the barriers like time, language, and accessibility.”
Though she describes herself as “quite risk averse”, Dang said she couldn’t accept that people are being excluded from services in a country as rich as Australia, so she decided to address the problem.
The solution is UploadOnce: Dang began working on the platform in 2014, presenting an MVP to the NSW Government and winning funding.
UploadOnce works by allowing businesses to create a checklist to guide consumers on the documents they need to upload and tasks they need to complete to submit an application, with the checklist updated in real time as entries are checked off.
Consumers are able to upload documents, or have them fed in from an authorised thirty party source if they are on UploadOnce; the user must approve each document before it’s attached to the checklist.
“This consent management capability means only authorised users can access a consumer’s data and the consumer can keep track of which organisations have which document,” Dang said.
UploadOnce also then acts as a digital repository for the user where collated documents are stored for easy access so consumers can re-use their documents to apply for additional services.
“Apple and Google Cloud allows consumers to create a central repository for photos that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. How can we give consumers similar and secure access for their person documents, even when they move homes, cities, states or countries?” Dang said.
“Especially talking to people who moved here as international students, I realised that this a genuine concern for the young minds who move countries and find it hard to manage full time study and apply for accomodations, TFN, Tax and so on. With today’s internationally mobile workforce, people should have easy access to the personal information to request services from anywhere at any time.”
With the startup’s target market broadly businesses in service industries, Dang said UploadOnce has brought on a number of businesses offering education, migration, and financial advice.
The pitch to businesses is relatively simple, she said, because most of these businesses require consumers to go through an application process in order to access services.
“Our solution to these businesses automates the process and enables an organisation to complete tasks for consumers, making the experience seamless and convenient for consumers,” Dang explained.
“The more friction in the process, the less likely a person will be a client, so enabling an organisation to do more for consumers also allows them to do more business.”
UploadOnce differs from the likes of Dropbox, email, and business-specific platforms because it is client-centric, Dang said; in turn, it is creating “buy-ready consumers”.
Dang said, “With easy access to documents collated over time across different service providers, consumers are empowered with the documents they need to buy any service at any time.
“Most IT platforms are organisation centric – they streamline processes for an organisation without regard to the effort or inconvenience it imposes onto consumers. If customer efficiencies result from an organisation streamlining internal processes, these efficiencies are communicated to consumers. They focus on the current – and related, if the organisation is being paid for the related – transactions.”
The startup this year enhanced its platform for the international education sector and will look to hone in on this market, targeting education and migration agents and other services supporting the settlement of new arrivals.
More broadly for the business, Dang said her vision is to simply see how UploadOnce can further support and empower people to access services. In her spare time, she volunteers as an advisory member of the Western Sydney Small Business Expo, Next Money Sydney meetups, and participates in Techfugee Hackathons.
Image: Laura Dang. Source: Supplied.