Bridge over troubled waters: IPO-bound SaaS platform steps in to solve NDIS
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Local tech play Bridge might be prepping for an eagerly anticipated ASX IPO, but the platform provider remains laser-focused on its mission to help employment providers quickly and quietly get the new Aussie economy up and working.
While analysts and investors are gearing up for what’s been tapped as something akin to the second coming of Xero (ASX:XRO), Bridge has been building a much-needed solution for the revitalised National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and its scattered care providers.
Bridge CEO Jamie Conyngham, who took the reins of the Software as a Service (SaaS) company in 2020 with a growth mandate, says the platform which has been streamlining compliance and organisational tasks for providers in employment services is now advancing the service for the NDIS.
“The Federal Government has big programs they run to help unemployed people to get a job, and these are outsourced to companies called providers,” Conyngham said. “The providers are the ones who do the work to get people into employment.” Similarly, the NDIS program is huge and the Federal Government relies on providers to provide the care to those who need it.
Bridge is the platform providers use to manage their client appointments, tasks for the day, documentation for compliance, claims from the government (their revenue) and the assorted deluge of rigmarole which makes life a bureaucratic tap dance.
“We think of it as an operation platform for providers and that’s how it got started.”
About three or four years ago Bridge saw a need to help providers of another crucial Federal Government-funded program, the NDIS.
“We only just launched our product for NDIS, and it’s still Bridge with all the same core features but also additional functionality for providers,” Conyngham said.
There are ~17,000 NDIS providers in Australia with the government program costing ~$40 billion annually.
“He said there is a lot of compliance in programs like the NDIS and the providers are not all big with some of them quite small,” Conyngham said.
“Some are husband and wife teams or have three or five people working for them and must do all this compliance and keep track of their clients.
“They have limited time, have to fill in a lot of forms and claim from the government to get paid and revenue for their business.”
Just like Aussie cloud-based accounting software provider Xero (ASX:XRO) worked to make accounting less complex for small to medium businesses, Bridge is hoping to make compliance simpler for NDIS providers.
“By helping the NDIS providers get more efficient you actually help them save time they are spending on admin which in turn gives them more time to give care to the public,” Conyngham said.
“At the moment when you speak to providers, they tell you how bogged down they are with admin and still using Word, Excel and paper so we’re working to get them more streamlined.
Bridge now has Leanne Graham on its board who designed and executed Xero’s go to market strategy and ran NZ and Global sales.
Rod Drury Founder and NED of Xero commented on LinkedIn
“Leanne was the architect of our Global Sales Strategy…taking the business from 3000 customers in New Zealand to over 60000, rolling this strategy out firstly within New Zealand and championing in Australia, UK and US.”
Since Bridge has been around since 2008, the software has Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) accreditation.
“The providers for employment services for example can only use Bridge or another accredited software of which there is only about four,” Conyngham said.
“This gives us a USP as there is no other NDIS software that has the accreditation except for us so we are taking all of this robust secure accreditation across to NDIS as well.”
He said the federal government has become increasingly concerned about security breaches when handling private citizens data.
“You have to go through a massive security audit and all of these controls, and we’ve been through all of that,“ Conyngham said.
“On the NDIS side as it’s a newer program to employment services they don’t have the full accreditation yet, so it gives us an advantage as we are a proven, more secure platform with less risk of being hacked.”
Bridge now securely supports more than one million participant records in the employment services and NDIS sectors.
While employment services currently account for the majority of its revenue, Conyngham said this is forecast to change in coming years.
Bridge is already set to synchronise with the NDIS participant portal myplace. On the Australian Government’s myGov website myplace is where a participant or their representative can access your NDIS information.
“NDIS is a much bigger target market for us,” Conyngham said.
Bridge makes it money from invoicing its provider clients based on how many participants it is supporting.
“For example, one provider might have 20,000 unemployed program participants where they store all their documentation and information on our platform,” Conyngham said.
“We will charge them per participant and that’s the sort of maths we use.”
Part of Bridge’s business model going forward is to make onboarding clients simpler, particular for smaller providers .
“We want to make it easy for small providers to get a system so part of the use of funds we will raise from the IPO will be used to build an easy onboarding system where they can put their credit card details in and start using Bridge straight away,” Conyngham said.
“It will become more of a plug and play SaaS experience.”
Bridge planning to launch on the ASX in Q1 FY22. The company said it is not concerned about market downturns, particularly in the high-growth tech sector.
“Although we are tech, we are cyclical and funnily if there are more unemployed people, we will make more money as we charge per unemployed person,” Conyngham said.
“Also, the government is not likely to slash core government programs like NDIS during times of hardship rather inject more cash, so we are counter-cyclical.
“If you think of a tree diagram the Federal Government is at the top with the money flowing down to providers and then to us so it’s a pretty stable client.”
This article was developed in collaboration with Bridge, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.