(EDITOR’S NOTE: SafeSurv is one of the teams participating in this year’s “The Works” accelerator hosted by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. “Demo Day” is tomorrow. The interview for this story was conducted during this year’s “36|86 Conference” in Nashville.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
“We have created a one-of-a-kind network between distributors, regulators and independent establishments.” Charlie Jordan says of SafeSurv, a Cookeville-based start-up.
We first met the former Tennessee Tech University student who co-founded the compliance-focused company in 2015 via an earlier start-up named Wait Saver. About a year ago, we posted this update on SafeSurv after again catching-up with the always smiling, upbeat entrepreneur at the 2016 edition of the “36|86 Conference.”
When we connected again this past June at the annual Launch Tennessee event, Jordan told us some exciting news about the evolution of the company that was founded to help servers in restaurants serving alcohol validate that customers were not underage.
“Things are going really well,” he says, referencing the fact that he has expanded the types of clients SafeSurv helps by adding liquor manufacturers and distributors, as well as regulators, to the list. In some ways, it sounds like a competing mix, but Jordan says it is really a tool that meets the needs of everyone.
The core mission is to” take the opportunity of a mistake off the table,” the Co-Founder says. How has that evolved?
Initially, the concept was to provide a tool that waiters and servers could use to quickly validate the authenticity of a driver’s license. It was a “one-off” service for each establishment. Today, those establishments can choose to share information about customers with nearby restaurants and bars. Maybe an individual has been denied service because he or she is inebriated. Maybe the person got into an altercation or was asked to leave, so the individual showed-up at another establishment. That shared information can help other restaurants and bars avoid a similar problem with the individual by denying service at the outset.
Why would establishments that serve alcoholic beverages want their data shared with regulators? Jordan explains that the responsible businesses don’t want to be fined or face other regulatory punishment. So, when regulators see aggregated data from a number of bars and restaurants in a specific area that show a higher than normal incidence of fake IDs, they can increase their oversight.
SafeSurv clients have the option of opting in or out of the data sharing feature.
There’s also interest from companies like Brown Forman, manufacturer of Jack Daniels, who see SafeSurv as a way to help establishments selling their products. After all, they lose sales if a restaurant or bar loses its license.
The company offers what it calls the SafeSurv Compliance Suite that can help businesses manage their age-restricted substance sales – not just alcohol but cigarettes, for example. The suite currently includes an ID reader that can scan a driver’s license or passport in two seconds or less and an enterprise tool.
“We are working with a concessions groups that is in 16 airports,” Jordan says. “We are integrating SafeSurv into their point of sale system.”
The company has been totally bootstrapped, but its Chief Executive Officer believes SafeSurv is on a great path.
“We’re excited; it’s taken a life of its own,” Jordan says. “It has become a platform that our customers are helping us build.”