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50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2018

Environmental Management Technology Mogul: Envirosuite, a Brisbane-based SaaS Platform, Scripts Expanding its Operations Internationally

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We’re driven to revolutionise the environmental space by empowering decision makers. We help them act confidently and quickly using clear, on-demand guidance that delivers win-win-win results for business, communities and the environment: Peter White

Environmental management in business involves being aware of how your business operations affect the environment. Businesses who have adapted their environmental management processes and thinking have realised that not only does it help our environment it also makes business sense. Operating a ‘green’ business is one of the newest and fastest growing areas of opportunity for small business.

Regardless of the type of business you run, it’s possible to reduce your impact on the environment and improve your bottom line. Lowering your carbon footprint, reducing your waste and becoming more sustainable can result in energy, water or waste management savings. It can also increase your profit through efficiency or productivity gains.

Envirosuite – a global provider of environmental management technology – offers a range of environmental monitoring, management and investigative capabilities that are incorporated into a diverse array of operations from wastewater treatment to large-scale construction, open cut mines, port operations, environmental regulators and heavy industry uses.

Envirosuite helps industry and government meet the growing demands of communities the world over to achieve optimal community, regulatory and productivity outcomes.

The company was incorporated in 2008 and is based in Brisbane, Australia. It has offices in the Asia Pacific, USA, Canada, Europe and South America, as well as partners-with-offices all over the world.

Revisiting Envirosuite’s Initial Years: Getting off the Ground

In 1995, Robin Ormerod and Kristin Zeise founded the environmental consultancy, Pacific Air & Environment (PAE). This eventually grew into Australia’s largest air quality consultancy. In 2004, they began an R&D program to give PAE a pathway toward something different from the fee-for-time grind that is familiar to all consultants.

An idea brought to the table by meteorologist Dr Peter D’Abreton was adopted, and so with the help of Mitch Farquhar, a chemical engineer, the road towards Envirosuite began with the first code being cut for a real-time air pollution model. All four of these originators are still committed members of the Envirosuite team.

Sustaining the R&D program was challenging for a 15-person private consultancy, but over time it began to produce results. A Beta version called airXpert was deployed at a paper mill for three years, allowing a variety of data, comms and functionality issues to be tackled.

In 2008, the public company Pacific Environment Limited was founded off the back of PAE’s technology IP and a rollup with three other environmental practices. In 2016, the public company was renamed Envirosuite and encompassed both the Envirosuite SaaS business that had developed from the tech development and the consulting practice. In 2017, the consulting group was acquired by ERM.

For several years following the IPO, internal and external factors – such as the GFC – slowed development of the technology, but over the past five years an upgraded product development program, rebranding, market research and a growing global sales effort have brought the company’s sole focus to the Envirosuite technology as a scalable SaaS platform.

Peter White, Envirosuite CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

How successful was your first project roll on? Share the experience.

Our first project was a real-time air quality modeling and monitoring solution for an industrial customer. The project was successfully delivered and our initial customer remains a subscriber to the Envirosuite system to this day.

We learned many practical lessons about implementation in the early stages. The most important led to software upgrades that improved data communications and dramatically reduced implementation time, helping make the product truly scalable.

This project also provided valuable customer feedback about applications and business benefits of the software, the first of many such cases that have informed our evolution.

What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?

One of the first things that becomes obvious in hindsight is that executing your plan and striving to reach benchmarks is not a predictable, linear process – there will almost certainly be some dead ends, slow patches, and unexpected surges of progress that make for a more complicated – and interesting – path to success.

In the initial years, we spent a considerable amount of effort to educate the market about the value that real-time and predictive capabilities can offer organizations. In hindsight, we could have introduced a few selected customers to the product at an earlier stage as a trial to garner their feedback on our proposed development roadmap and its fit to their needs.

If I could give one message to anyone starting out on a new venture I would say not to be afraid of finding out how your product can be made better from the people who are actually using it. Great ideas can come quickly and easily if you are receptive.

“Earning trust and respect of consumers all around the world is through consistent focus on delivering high quality in all of our actions.” How do you interpret this statement?

This is an important statement that could be easy to skim over as a platitude. But experience tells you it is fundamentally important to appreciate what it means, particularly by ‘all our actions’. No production, delivery and support system – like a SaaS business – can operate sustainably unless all of its pieces are well-coordinated and focused on delivering and supporting agreed customer outcomes. This; therefore, includes product development, marketing, sales and support all working to achieve the same, well-defined goals around customer experience and satisfaction. The devil is in the detail: precisely how to best organise, direct and manage a business to achieve these goals is not easy and occupies the minds of many experts and practitioners.

About adaptability, how do you stay relevant to the consumer interests and needs in this high volatile market?

We are somewhat fortunate that we have a set of scientific and regulatory underpinnings to much of what our product does and is applied. This gives some sort of guidance on what we need to provide, but it is also true that we have to adapt in order to translate the subject matter into satisfying and rewarding customer experiences in a market that has evolving tastes and needs. I am a great believer in the idea that adaptation is the key to survival. It doesn’t mean you make changes for their own sake: they must be the minimum necessary to keep you relevant and attractive.

How often do you innovate? Is it only when there is a need in the market?

Technology and innovation are two of the core reasons we exist as a company. The other one is science, the subject matter that we work with. We began the company’s journey on the back of a major innovation, which was not so much based on an identified need in the market, but drawing on our strengths and known market trends. Educating the market was something we initially had to do: we were doing something that many people didn’t know was possible. After that big step, many other smaller innovations have shaped the product. It’s a process that never stops, but we also know that innovation for its own sake is not the point: it has to be beneficial to the business, hence the roadmap process.

Do you have any new products ready to be launched?

We have a continual innovation, research and product development process that generates new products and applications. Right now we’re working on new applications intended to improve the effectiveness and safety of emergency response (things like fires, toxic leaks, etc.), impacts of agricultural pollution, and water quality. In addition to the software side, we recently acquired the Odotech business in Canada which is a leader in electronic nose technology, and that is inspiring new ideas for sensors as well.

As a question on sustainability, where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

We plan to be making sustainable profits, providing the world’s most comprehensive and intuitive real-time monitoring, investigative and predictive environmental management software, across all major markets. Right now we are on the trajectory to get us there and that is our single-minded objective.

Envirosuite Leadership: A Magnificent Trio

Peter White, CEO: Peter has had a long-term interest in using technology to benefit business, specialising in growing technology companies providing B2B solutions. He has held senior positions in both multinational and small companies, across Executive Management, Sales, and Operations and Delivery. He has a track record of consolidating and growing companies using his depth of skills in business development and operational delivery. He is a natural leader who enjoys creating teams to win and deliver large projects, whilst developing people along the way.

Robin Ormerod, Co-founder/Managing Director: Robin oversees Envirosuite’s R&D program, contributes to scientific, design and pre-sales activities, and coordinates collaboration with research partners. He is a qualified meteorologist and air quality expert with over 30 years of international consulting experience. Robin saw how combining deep scientific expertise with new technologies could provide disruptive real-time and predictive delivery models that improve the speed and quality of environmental management activities.

Kristin Zeise, Co-founder/Corporate Advisor: Kristin is a co-founder and brings expertise in environmental management, through more than 25 years of consulting in California and Australia and a background in Chemical Engineering. She has identified business opportunities for the business stemming from regulatory developments, most particularly in California, and works with the US and Australian teams to drive new business through an in-depth understanding of environmental regulation and the attendant business requirements.

What we do not only helps our customers, it helps communities and in fact, it makes the world a better place through improved environmental performance: Robin Ormerod