Why we invested in YellowBird

By Alex Taylor and Lynn Thompson – QBE Ventures 

We are thrilled to be investing in YellowBird, the leading platform for Safety and Risk Management technology.  

The Problem  

The Safety and Risk Services market – $14 billion annually – is fragmented, specialised, and suffering from acute labour shortages. The consequence of organisations not having timely access to proficient safety advice is severe. According to the Labor Bureau of Statistics, there is a workplace related death in the USA every 101 minutes. Injury and deaths at work happen largely because of accident, oversight and insufficient competence.  

As an insurer, QBE has years of data to support the case that proactive occupational health and safety risk mitigation is good for everyone. The best injury is one that never happens. We have also learnt that businesses who are willing to engage in understanding their risks, and who seek services to reduce these, represent a lower loss ratio. QBE currently works with a subset of business customers to identity and mitigate risks for their staff. The Australian division has invested over $20 million to help local businesses look after their employees, and the US division has a similar program. However, the missing piece is a scalable, efficient way to deliver EHS & Safety services to all QBE business customers. 

Enter Yellowbird 

YellowBird, a certified Disability-Owned Business Enterprise founded in 2019, has created a marketplace for safety, risk assessment and remediation services. Businesses now have a simple way to connect with vetted Risk and Safety experts, on demand. From initial operations in one state,  YellowBird has been able to enlist a pool of pre-vetted, qualified professionals across the US in a short amount of time. Client demand has also been strong, with their client list including major brands across technology, manufacturing and insurance. The speed of growth speaks to the gap in the market for a quality-assured marketplace of specialists available on demand. 

In any environment, the construction of a two-sided marketplace is extremely challenging. This is especially pronounced in a marketplace where one side depends on highly specialist skills. What sets YellowBird apart from the pack is the co-founders, Michael and Michelle’s, vision for skills uplift as part of the core value proposition. We see this as a necessity for tackling the underlying barrier of chronic talent shortage and skills mismatch in workplace safety, risk identification and mitigation. 

Their vision leads to a virtuous loop of more supply of suitably qualified professionals, more capacity to meet demand for safety and risk assessments, a reduction in dangerous and avoidable workplace accidents, and more risk conscious workplace cultures (which is proven to reduce loss ratios for insurers). Building out a ‘network effect’ of knowledge and capability is part of the secret sauce that YellowBird is creating and forms a key component of their value proposition. 

Looking Ahead 

YellowBird is leading the way to reimagine the risk and safety workforce. We are delighted to be strategic early-stage investors. Together we can help businesses to create more resilient workplaces, saving lives and livelihoods.