Ideally, businesses want to avoid and prevent workplace injuries as much as possible. It’s impossible to completely eliminate danger for workers, especially in higher-risk industries like construction. But there are ultimately two ways to reduce workplace injury: by altering systems and by managing people.
Edify.ai is addressing the human side of this equation with an artificial intelligence platform designed to educate workers and manage their risks. By collecting and processing huge swathes of data, Edify.ai can predict areas of greater risk and coach employees on safe practices to prevent accidents before they happen. We reached out to co-founder and CEO Cory Linton to hear about the origins of the company and how the team got together for this project.
Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?
Edify.ai is a people-focused, intelligence-driven safety company — meaning that we develop software to help every frontline worker and crew leader be safer and make better decisions in industries like construction, mining, energy, and utilities.
What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?
A few years ago, I was working on an AI project related to employee engagement, and I met a construction company that asked if I had ever looked at applying my technology to safety. I had no idea what that even meant! As I dove in, I learned that safety is a huge deal for 168 million workers around the world, and technology does not play the role that it should. Imagine building cool technology and being able to literally save lives. It doesn’t get any better than that!
What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?
I spent 15 years as COO building an online training company for K-12 education, growing it from $2.5 million to over $45 million. After that experience, I realized that I had a deep desire to be an entrepreneur and start something from scratch — so deep and strong that I realized I couldn’t do anything else! So, I started Edify and initially focused on employee engagement until I learned about safety. Once I started working on safety, I was hooked. I absolutely love going on big construction projects and knowing that our software can be a cog in that giant machine to help everyone go home safely every day. Having grown a company from $2.5 million to $45 million, I thought, “How hard can it be to go from zero to $2.5 million?” Boy, was I wrong! It turned out to be the hardest thing I have ever done. But just when I was in a difficult moment, I would have a customer meeting or meet with a new prospect and realize how special this business is. That has fueled me along the way, knowing that we are doing something truly innovative that will save lives and that really resonates with potential customers.
What is your vision for the future of the industry you are operating in?
Our vision is that we radically and globally impact insurance and how construction projects manage risk with respect to worker safety. The current model is based on decades-old systems that were designed when real-time data was not available. Our system produces amazing data about the safety of a project or company. If we can feed that to insurance companies, we can change the way risk is managed in dangerous work environments. If we can do that, it is worth tens of billions of dollars!
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
The main founders are myself and Brian Kennedy — our CTO. Brian and I have known each other for many years, and he is one of the most gifted technologists I have ever worked with. I approached Brian about working with me on a startup, and he jumped in from the get go! Brian and I are foxhole buddies — meaning we have fought the entrepreneurial war of building Edify together — and it is like war, hard, tiresome, and unforgiving. Getting our company from zero to where it is today has been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears — and Brian and I have been 100% aligned the entire time. I think that is amazing, and I am grateful to have him as a business partner.
Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?
All the safety software that exists is focused on keeping records and archives of people getting hurt — it is all after-the-fact. We think the data that is gathered before an incident occurs is way more interesting, and we can train that data to a neural network to identify risk of incidents. As far as we know, nobody is doing that — but I am not naive. The world is a big place, and I am sure someone else has thought about this similarly — so we need to move fast!
What does your business model look like?
We sell our software as a subscription on a monthly or yearly basis.
What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
I came to equity crowdfunding to raise money from all the hardworking craftsmen and craftswomen out there. These are the people on the frontline of our infrastructure who keep the world running. Imagine if they had not been able to work during COVID-19. The whole world would have shut down. They kept our economy alive, and I wanted to give all of them a chance to be a part of the amazing work our team is doing.
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
We are laser-focused on making safety radically better and on building a large, dominant company. We don’t just want to build a lifestyle business. We want to create the number one safety software company in the world so that every worker can come home safe everyday. Our leadership team has built and sold companies before, and we are all completely united, and we have an amazing set of customers that has tens of millions in potential revenue.
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? have you set any future goals for the company?
There are great exit opportunities for our company: large construction tech companies such as Trimble, Autodesk, Procore, and many others that are actively involved in mergers and acquisitions; insurance carriers such as Liberty Mutual, Zurich, Traveler’s, and others; and of course, an IPO will be an option. Our goal for the company is to have a valuation of over $1 billion within five years and seek the best exit for our shareholders, our employees, and our customers. We have the market to do it and the product, and we are solving a problem that costs the US alone $171 billion a year.
We look forward to seeing where Cory and his team take the company. Edify.ai is currently raising on Republic.