Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lisa Hallsworth, CEO of Rillea Technologies Inc, located in Belleville, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business, Rillea Technologies, is the designer and developer of SDS RiskAssist™ software as a service (SaaS). SDS RiskAssist is an expert software that reads a client’s Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS, GHS or HazCom) safety data sheets (SDSs), extracts data, compares it to regulations and organizes the data to quickly flag hidden hazards in the chemical products used by employers in their daily operations. Further, the software empowers clients to select safer alternatives, and where this is not possible, it enables clients to deploy safe-handling protocols about the chemical products and share these via mobile and desktop devices across their organization and even with emergency response personnel, if needed. SDS RiskAssist is like a virtual chemical safety bookshelf that enables employers to retain and transparently share organizational knowledge despite ever-changing personnel, chemical products, research, and regulations.
Rillea Technologies also offers training services to help clients meet safety and sustainable development targets. Our clients include municipalities, Government of Canada departments, dental and medical clinics, as well as forward-thinking educational institutions and manufacturers.
Tell us about yourself
As a professional engineer with over 23 years working in chemical manufacturing, I was repeatedly faced with the difficulty of understanding the hazards of the chemicals being managed, despite my extensive training in the field. I wondered how those without training were managed. As I explored the marketplace with my questions, I found that the average organization can not manage chemical safety. The resources needed are too great. Without awareness of the hazards, organizations accept the risk of harm to people and our planet with a strategy based on luck.
I saw an opportunity to build software to help. In chemical safety, while chemical products change and research and regulations evolve, the approach to identifying hazards is always the same. Software is really great at completing repetitive tasks flawlessly and almost instantly. I thought that if affordable software could index data from safety data sheets for clients and cross-reference the indexed data against regulations and best practices, employers would have the quick information they needed to base their chemical safety strategy on knowledge rather than luck. This would help reduce their risk of employee illness, turnover, and environmental damage.
With the use of SDS RiskAssist, we’ve had clients eliminate over 300 chemical products from their facilities because they had previously been unaware of the hazards. This means that the thousands of people who operate daily in these facilities are safer, as is the environment. Results like that motivate me to keep working hard to reach more forward-thinking organizations!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
To date, I’m most proud of the work we completed with Health Canada in using our anonymized database to identify the most common workplace carcinogens. The research was shared with over 100 Health Canada stakeholders and was used to inform Health Canada’s priorities for future health and safety assessments. SDS RiskAssist has positively impacted not only today’s workplace but tomorrow’s as well!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Patience! People need to hear new ideas 7 to 14 times before they really understand the product and its potential benefits. In our current world, full of noise and disinformation, I feel that it takes even more time to gain people’s trust, especially since chemical safety is not common knowledge.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Build something you’re passionate about. You’ll rely on your passion when things get tough.
- Get help from business and innovation centres. Starting a business can be complicated, and these free resources can get you started on the right path.
- Listen to your intuition. You’ll want and need lots of advice, but at the end of the day, the journey, decisions, and risks are yours.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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