CIE » Newsroom » Kiwi company opens gateway to holistic business sustainability

NEWSROOM

Kiwi company opens gateway to holistic business sustainability

social media

Health and safety should be easy. This is the ethos of ecoPortal, New Zealand’s leading health and safety (H&S), risk, and sustainability management software. EcoPortal empowers H&S executives to keep their employees safe and reduce their environmental impact by shifting their company culture from one of compliance to genuine care. The company was founded in 2008 by a team of University of Auckland PhD students who entered their idea into Velocity, the University’s extra-curricular student entrepreneurship development programme.

Co-founder and CEO Dr. Manuel Seidel was completing a Bachelor of Engineering when he had the opportunity to work on an industry project to optimise and reduce the environmental impact of furniture packaging. “I became passionate about all aspects of business sustainability, which led to my PhD research to help companies develop and implement strategies to reduce business risks and improve performance. My PhD was very much focused on creating meaningful real-world improvements rather than the traditional type of research you might associate with a doctorate,” says Manuel.

While studying, Manuel founded a consultancy firm that helped clients gain and maintain certification to international risk management standards. He found that when it came to acquiring certifications, most companies fell into a “compliance trap” where they were ticking the boxes but not actually developing systems that help to reduce risk. “Essentially, they often ended up with a folder on the shelf or a bunch of spreadsheets that were only ever looked at by one person and came out once a year for the annual audit. We know that to actually improve your performance and reduce business risk, companies need to engage their people and move beyond silos,” explains Manuel. This inspired him to develop ecoPortal as a means of engaging stakeholders through simple, configurable, and accessible software.

The vision behind ecoPortal has come a long way since its founding 10 years ago. The original focus on environmental sustainability has grown to encompass all facets of business sustainability which include looking after people, the planet, and profits. Today, most companies connect with ecoPortal from a H&S standpoint, but they are still very much aligned with their environmental roots and clients often expand their systems to integrate other areas of business risk.

EcoPortal now operates in both New Zealand and Australia as well as a handful of other countries around the world. The New Zealand Health and Safety at Work Act is aligned with Australia’s Model Workplace Health and Safety laws, which allowed ecoPortal to seamlessly grow their Australian footprint. They also collaborate with an Australian company whose product helps businesses maintain an up-to-date understanding of environmental and H&S legal compliance obligations, a partnership that significantly benefits their shared clients.

Thinking about his team’s journey so far, Manuel is most proud of building a leading Software as a Service (SaaS) company organically from the ground up. “We have had to be very focused in listening to customer needs and constantly innovating while developing and refining our product offering. Over the last two years we have doubled the size of our team and now employ 30 staff. It has been an amazing journey and it is fantastic that we’ve been able to get through the difficult challenges associated with starting a technology company and are now looking forward to the next chapter in our growth,” he says.

Covid-19 has forced many businesses to cut back on their spending, so ecoPortal has not been experiencing the same level of growth they saw in the previous 24 months. However, they learned and adapted in true entrepreneurial style. “We’ve taken this as an opportunity to double down on our product innovation as well as investing in optimising our internal processes so that when the economy picks back up again we are in an even better position than we were in before the pandemic. We’ve also used this as an opportunity to hire some new talent in key roles – it is a great time to hire!”

Manuel credits the success of his start-up – now, an industry leading company – to his team. “The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that once you have built a team around you, amazing things can be done together. I am so proud of every individual in our organisation and thankful for their amazing contributions to the ongoing success of ecoPortal. It takes an incredible amount of drive, patience, endurance and good luck to grow a successful tech company in New Zealand. You need to be extremely passionate about what you are doing otherwise you may submit to the temptation of giving up when the going gets tough. Stay strong, listen to and collaborate with your customers, and build a great team.”

Ang Nayyar
Ang Nayyar

social media

Health and safety should be easy. This is the ethos of ecoPortal, New Zealand’s leading health and safety (H&S), risk, and sustainability management software. EcoPortal empowers H&S executives to keep their employees safe and reduce their environmental impact by shifting their company culture from one of compliance to genuine care. The company was founded in 2008 by a team of University of Auckland PhD students who entered their idea into Velocity, the University’s extra-curricular student entrepreneurship development programme.

Co-founder and CEO Dr. Manuel Seidel was completing a Bachelor of Engineering when he had the opportunity to work on an industry project to optimise and reduce the environmental impact of furniture packaging. “I became passionate about all aspects of business sustainability, which led to my PhD research to help companies develop and implement strategies to reduce business risks and improve performance. My PhD was very much focused on creating meaningful real-world improvements rather than the traditional type of research you might associate with a doctorate,” says Manuel.

While studying, Manuel founded a consultancy firm that helped clients gain and maintain certification to international risk management standards. He found that when it came to acquiring certifications, most companies fell into a “compliance trap” where they were ticking the boxes but not actually developing systems that help to reduce risk. “Essentially, they often ended up with a folder on the shelf or a bunch of spreadsheets that were only ever looked at by one person and came out once a year for the annual audit. We know that to actually improve your performance and reduce business risk, companies need to engage their people and move beyond silos,” explains Manuel. This inspired him to develop ecoPortal as a means of engaging stakeholders through simple, configurable, and accessible software.

The vision behind ecoPortal has come a long way since its founding 10 years ago. The original focus on environmental sustainability has grown to encompass all facets of business sustainability which include looking after people, the planet, and profits. Today, most companies connect with ecoPortal from a H&S standpoint, but they are still very much aligned with their environmental roots and clients often expand their systems to integrate other areas of business risk.

EcoPortal now operates in both New Zealand and Australia as well as a handful of other countries around the world. The New Zealand Health and Safety at Work Act is aligned with Australia’s Model Workplace Health and Safety laws, which allowed ecoPortal to seamlessly grow their Australian footprint. They also collaborate with an Australian company whose product helps businesses maintain an up-to-date understanding of environmental and H&S legal compliance obligations, a partnership that significantly benefits their shared clients.

Thinking about his team’s journey so far, Manuel is most proud of building a leading Software as a Service (SaaS) company organically from the ground up. “We have had to be very focused in listening to customer needs and constantly innovating while developing and refining our product offering. Over the last two years we have doubled the size of our team and now employ 30 staff. It has been an amazing journey and it is fantastic that we’ve been able to get through the difficult challenges associated with starting a technology company and are now looking forward to the next chapter in our growth,” he says.

Covid-19 has forced many businesses to cut back on their spending, so ecoPortal has not been experiencing the same level of growth they saw in the previous 24 months. However, they learned and adapted in true entrepreneurial style. “We’ve taken this as an opportunity to double down on our product innovation as well as investing in optimising our internal processes so that when the economy picks back up again we are in an even better position than we were in before the pandemic. We’ve also used this as an opportunity to hire some new talent in key roles – it is a great time to hire!”

Manuel credits the success of his start-up – now, an industry leading company – to his team. “The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that once you have built a team around you, amazing things can be done together. I am so proud of every individual in our organisation and thankful for their amazing contributions to the ongoing success of ecoPortal. It takes an incredible amount of drive, patience, endurance and good luck to grow a successful tech company in New Zealand. You need to be extremely passionate about what you are doing otherwise you may submit to the temptation of giving up when the going gets tough. Stay strong, listen to and collaborate with your customers, and build a great team.”


EMAIL
CIE@AUCKLAND.AC.NZ

PHONE
09 923 4526

NEWSLETTER SIGN UP

POSTAL ADDRESS
THE UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND BUSINESS SCHOOL
PRIVATE BAG 92019, AUCKLAND