Presenting our portfolio: Provider Choice

Jan 18, 2021
SeedSpace Team

Building an ‘impact first’ business that will demystify the minefield of the NDIS is Tom Blinksell’s mission.

“We aren’t product first, we aren’t revenue first. We’re impact first. And then we build our services and products around creating a greater impact on people with a disability in Australia,” he said. Alongside co-founder Jonathan Salgo, Tom represents a new breed of entrepreneur, using their skillsets and commercial experience to create a socially impactful business.

“When you design technology and product around impact for the most vulnerable people in the community, revenue and commercialisation will follow if you’re offering enough value. The more commercial success we have, the more impact we have on people’s lives. And those two don’t necessarily go together in a lot of businesses. But for us, they do.”

An opportunity to fill the gap in the disability sector

The NDIS is a $22 billion a year scheme created to help an estimated 460,000 Australians who have a permanent and significant disability. This unique government scheme gives money directly to individuals with a disability, or their families, to provide greater choice and control over the care that they receive.

However, like any scheme, it is not without its problems — problems that that Tom and Jono witnessed first-hand with family members in the NDIS.

“As the NDIS rolled out across the country, the problem was that there just weren’t any tools to manage the funding, or how to find the right service providers, or generally just putting your NDIS plan into action to help achieve whatever goals you, or your loved one with disability, has.” he said.

After more than two years helping his family manage the frustrating process of navigating the NDIS, Tom teamed up with Jono, who had previously consulted to the NDIA, the agency that runs the scheme. The pair could see that there was a massive opportunity to help families achieve better outcomes from the NDIS.

The evolution of Provider Choice

Tom and Jono did not shy away from tough work. The early days of Provider Choice were spent engaging with both families, providers and the NDIS system to work out the best approach to better serve people with a disability.

“The platform was started in WA first, and the early bootstrapping days were really tough and painful for both the business and us. But it was important to go through it because we learned so much about what the real value add to our customers needed to be. We also began to understand how to acquire customers onto our platform, how to generate business, how to market, and how to build the technology that was needed in this space.”

Having developed a prototype with the correct product market fit, the team was ready to take in capital to help bring their vision to life.

“We started looking at who would be the right investors to bring on board and we were introduced to Seed Space,” Tom says. “They’ve been excellent in the sense that they’ve just dispelled any of the traditional sorts of characteristics of how a VC is seen in Australia or around the world.

So, we’ve been really stoked with Seed Space and the way that they’ve supported us.“We now have also brought one of the Seed Space members onto the board, who has worked closely with us, and has become our inaugural Chairman [Murray Chatfield].”

Addressing concerns about the NDIS

There has been much criticism levelled towards the NDIS — that it is too complex to navigate, or payments to service providers being slow or lost.

“It’s a real shame that there’s not enough attention, in our view, about the long-term benefits that the NDIS will bring, and just how amazing and world-leading the ideology of the NDIS is,” Tom says.

“It’s so important that we always remember that, and not let the negativity affect Australia’s view of its benefits. Through the NDIS, we have collectively decided that we as Australians are going to fully fund what you need to live a happy and ordinary life, no matter what challenges you face. Our mission is to ensure that people can access the scheme more efficiently and effectively.”

Achieving the mission

As a platform, Provider Choice will sit in the middle of the NDIS ecosystem and act as a facilitator to connect people with products and service providers.

“We are provider-agnostic, and this is a really important point of differentiation compared to other innovators that have entered the disability space,” Tom points out.

“There are other online carer matching platforms, but they themselves are providers as well and only address one specific part of the space.”

There are grand aspirations for Provider Choice, who are well positioned in the market with no direct competitors. Currently, they are in the middle of an open capital raise which will help roll out their NDIS marketplace platform across Australia in 2021.

They will then begin to open the platform as a program for disability broadly, across multiple schemes before taking on the world.

“We want to open it as a broader platform — the platform for managing life with a loved one with a disability, regardless of what funding scheme you’re supported by. And then to take this international, to drag and drop our platform into other jurisdictions where we can help. “Improving the lives of people with disability is not an Australian pursuit, it’s a global one — and we know that we can help.”

About Provider Choice

Making the NDIS Easy. Provider Choice is the one-stop-shop online marketplace for Australian’s with disability to find high quality service providers, and easily manage their NDIS funding.