Virtual Badge Founder Georges Duplessy on the Power of Digital Identification

Startup Showdown

Virtual Badge is a platform for safety and workforce management.

Georges Duplessy is the CEO and co-founder of Virtual Badge, a platform revolutionizing safety and workforce management in industries such as construction, healthcare, and event management. His journey as an entrepreneur as the founder of Virtual Badge is an example of the transformative power of innovative ideas, hard work, and the willingness to challenge the status quo.

At Startup Showdown Miami in 2021, Virtual Badge pitched and won a $120,000 investment prize from BIP Ventures. When our team returned to Miami in 2023, we had a chance to check back in with Georges about how Virtual Badge has grown and where it’s headed. What resulted is an inspiring conversation that shows how an entrepreneur, fueled by the desire to solve a real problem using innovative technology, can advance an industry and scale as they do.

Summary of his advice to founders

  • Solve real world problems you understand firsthand
  • Track success metrics
  • Identify a market where you can scale your solution  
  • Prepare for your inflection points
  • Set big goals and keep them on the horizon

Harnessing Virtual Badges to Enhance Safety and Efficiency

When asked to describe Virtual Badge, Georges explained, "It's a platform for safety and workforce management. We make it simpler and easier for workers to start work, avoiding long lines, queues, and safety issues."

By allowing contractors to ensure their subcontractors have the right credentials and training, Virtual Badge streamlines the onboarding process and arms employers with a tool to build and maintain a culture of safety. The digital certificate technology connects stakeholders, like safety managers and superintendents, with workers, enabling them to report safety incidents and any observations on site.

Identifying and Solving a Unique Problem

Georges and his co-founder, John Simion, come from a disaster relief background. They understood firsthand the specific and high-impact consequences of accurately credentialing people working in those scenarios. They developed their software solution to help manage credentials in post-disaster scenarios where individuals claim to have skills they may not possess.

Once they had established proof of concept in the disaster relief sector, they saw the broader potential for their solution to solve similar issues in other industries. As they planned ways to scale their existing solution, they determined that construction was a promising next market: "We chose construction because it was a good match for us in terms of the problems they were having and the players on the market," Georges explained.

Mission-Driven Success

Since its founding, the overarching mission of Virtual Badge has been to keep people safe. That north star hasn’t shifted as the company has grown and expanded its industries and use cases. The company monitors the impact of that commitment. George proudly shares statistics and stories about the culture of safety and careful monitoring that Virtual Badge helps to create. Especially in construction, which is especially prone to accidents, the achievements are incredible.

"The idea has always been to help keep people safe. On a few of the construction projects we've been on, we've had safety managers tell us that the Information Virtual badge has created a culture of safety. They were able to go over 600 days without any safety incident. Just based on industry statistics, that's incredible. On a big project, you're looking at least four big incidents per year. In the United States, most of fatalities happen in the construction industry. It’s an industry that's very prone to having incidents due to bad training or people not really thinking about what could happen beyond the job at hand."

Surprising Joys of Being a Founder

When asked about what he enjoys most about leading his company, Georges responded, "Weirdly, sales." Coming from a technical background, this surprised him. He found immense satisfaction in understanding clients' problems and finding how Virtual Badge could enhance their businesses. “Being able to talk to clients and understand their problems...understand the nature of their business to see where we fit in and how we can help with their business and, beyond that, help their actual people...has been very interesting for me. It's cool when you're really proud of something, it makes it easier to sell it. It does. That's very cool.”

Growth, Traction, and Timing

As the company has grown, pitch events have offered funding and resources that were pivotal to reaching their next stage. When they participated in the pitch competition, they were working on building a repeatable model. The capital helped bolster marketing and sales efforts, and even hire people to aid in selling. Another key inflection point for the company came in this past year. The company tripled its annual recurring revenue (ARR). The growth metric and financial capability has set Virtual Badge on a path to its next phase of growth.

Georges points out that now is the right time for Virtual Badge to take bigger steps forward in part because of the impact of COVID. The pandemic accelerated technology adoption in the construction industry. That familiarity and reliance has made their digital credentialing solution more welcome than ever. And as employers and workers increasingly rely on our smartphones, Virtual Badge becomes an even more intuitive addition.

“When's the last time you've left your phone at home? I'm sure you've left your key card somewhere. I'm sure you've lost your keys somewhere. It's happened to me and, but I can't remember last time I've lost my phone. We're more and more attached to our phones. We have payment on our phone, boarding passes, our actual phone...adding the virtual badge that helps someone be safer at a construction site or during your healthcare job just makes sense.”

Looking forward, Virtual Badge is exploring how digital identity can provide tools for workers to find their next project, in addition to maintaining proof of their credentials. They see the potential for ubiquity – eventually becoming like the "Kleenex of digital ID."

Watch the full interview here.

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