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Bay company survives pandemic

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For Bay of Plenty company SwipedOn, as for many others, dealing with Covid-19 hasn’t been easy.

And as an ex Ship’s Captain on container ships, cruise ships and superyachts, Hadleigh Ford isn’t your standard tech entrepreneur. The idea for SwipedOn came when he noticed that they still used a standard paper visitor book to register guests on his ships, and the realisation that a digital solution would offer their guests a vastly better experience.

SwipedOn is a company that has gone from a tech startup to a global-leading visitor management system, with clients that include Bayer, Disney, FedEx, 3M, Krispy Kreme, Gate Gourmet, Bosch and Skyscanner.

SwipedOn is a cloud-based iPad application that replaces paper visitor books with an elegant and simple tech solution. Founded by Ford in 2016, the company experienced rapid growth within its first two years of operation.

Growth company heritage

In 2018, SwipedOn won the Callaghan Innovation Growth Grant, was nominated as finalists in the NZ Hi-Tech Awards for start-up of the year, and was sold to British based Smartspace Software PLC. 2020 saw another year of growth for SwipedOn and the company diversified and expanded on their product offering in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, to include solutions for workplace screenings and contact tracing among other functionalities.

SwipedOn is unique in that over 80 percent of their business is international and their biggest markets are the UK, USA and Australia. “The past year or so of Covid-19 has been wild from my perspective,” Ford told Bay of Plenty Business News.

“We had a global audience so perhaps saw the impact faster than most in New Zealand. Our customers were either closing up or working from home. Or they had issues using a touch screen device because of the potential risk of cross contamination. So our fundamental business model was in question in question at the same time that many global economies were falling over. So yes, that was quite a torrid time.”

However, SwipedOn responded, putting its team together for a brainstorming session to explore alternative ways of operating.

Moving contactless

As the pandemic got underway they shifted the entire app from iPad to contactless in a matter of weeks, introduced visitor screening questions and provided training in using the app for contact tracing. Ford’s visitor management system eventually saw huge growth due to a global demand for visitor screening and contact tracing.

Developed during the height of the pandemic in response to real-time needs, SwipedOn’s new products include: contactless workplace sign-in, visitor and employee screening questions, a dedicated employee sign-in app, contact tracing and SwipedOn Desks – a new feature for shared workspaces.

Contactless sign-in

Contactless sign-in allows visitors to smoothly and safely sign in and out of the workplace using their own mobile, eliminating the need to touch a communal device.

SwipedOn Desks

SwipedOn Desks helps utilise shared spaces effectively, optimising operational costs, and offering greater control over workplace health and safety policies. The new feature allows administrators to manage hot desks, agile or activity-based working environments, keep track of office occupancy, and even set resources as unavailable to help ensure effective social distancing.

SwipedOn Pocket – employee companion app

SwipedOn Pocket is an employee companion app that helps facilitate a risk-free workplace via a contactless sign-in experience for staff using their Android or iOS smartphones. The app includes screening questions and  employee movements are logged – giving a full oversight of who is in the building at any one time.

SwipedOn Proximity

SwipedOn Proximity offers verified on-site sign-in for employees by alerting users through the pocket app that they are within a predetermined radius of the workplace, prompting them to sign in.

Visitor and employee screening questions

Businesses can easily screen employees and visitors by asking them custom yes/no questions to determine if they are a safety risk to the workplace.

Contact tracing button

The ability to contact trace has always been possible with SwipedOn, but it used to be a manual process. In the recent product update, contact tracing has been transformed into an automated process. It now has the capability to alert users who could have had contact with an individual who is later deemed high risk.

Ford said new owner Smartspace Software PLC had been consistently supportive and SwipedOn was able to push into new market segments. It also helped, he said, that SwipedOn had developed quite a “tail wind” that helped it to rally support from old and new customers.

“We’ve had quite a significant customer base we’d managed to build products for, to help us ensure growth with the business,” said Ford.

“Our buyers have been extremely supportive.”

David Porter
Editor, Bay of Plenty Business News. Email: editor@bopbusinessnews.co.nz

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