By Manik Suri, Co-Founder and CEO
As anyone who rents an apartment or runs a restaurant knows, there are a lot of rules and regulations on the books. These laws can be difficult to navigate.
At MeWe, our mission is to simplify the law in order to empower businesses and consumers. We build legal technology that makes it easier to comply with health and safety laws in regulated industries like construction, housing, and food.
A key sector we’re focusing on initially is the $650 billion food service industry.
There are over half a million restaurants in the US. These businesses spend over $3 billion each year on lawyers and food safety consultants, to help them manage compliance with a long list of rules and regs. These include state laws modeled on the FDA Food Code, allergen– and gluten-labeling rules, Food Safety Modernization Act requirements, HACCP guidelines, and USDA regulations to name a few…it’s an alphabet soup!
Health inspection violations are bad for business — would you eat at a restaurant that posted a “C” rating in its window? And they’re expensive: serious offenses can cost a restaurant in New York City between $300 and $2000 per violation!
Yet many food businesses struggle with compliance. Most facilities use paper-and-pencil checklists to train staff and ensure they follow health and safety laws. Some managers post homemade “line checks” or “washout lists” for line workers to run internal safety and quality checks. Others conduct ad hoc “audits” just before an official scheduled health inspection. Many food businesses spend thousands of dollars on third party experts to help assess food safety practices and identify areas for improvement.
These ways of approaching compliance are inefficient, expensive, and error prone.
Our product: CoInspect
We wanted to make compliance easier, faster, and better. To do so, we built CoInspect, a mobile application that empowers businesses (and consumers) to run do-it-yourself inspections across a range of health and safety regulations.
CoInspect is a mobile compliance tool consisting of: (1) a digital clipboard, (2) loaded with a library of regulatory checklists.
We designed CoInspect’s digital clipboard to replace the paper-and-pencil forms that are widely used to perform compliance inspections. Digital inspections create transparency (timestamps and usernames highlight who checked what, and when). They also promote accountability, by generating standardized data that can be easily analyzed. It’s hard to run a report on a filing cabinet of paper forms. But a manager using CoInspect can quickly identify trends, outliers, and weak or strong performers by querying a digital database of inspection results. The data is digital from end-to-end.
CoInspect is loaded with a library of regulatory checklists that covers key health and safety laws in food, housing, and construction. These include food safety topics such as preparation, warewashing, and employee hygiene, housing issues like fire safety and rental lease terms, and construction requirements covering disability access. The application also includes a checklist editor, so users can easily modify any checklist in our library to suit their needs.
Once internal compliance checks are run, CoInspect’s dashboard offers sophisticated reporting, data analytics, and visualizations – enabling managers to analyze data and generate actionable insights.
We’re encouraged by feedback from our customers. One food safety manager says that digitizing internal inspections with CoInspect saves her 10 minutes per line check (which she does three times a day), adding up to 3 hours saved a week! Another customer, a restaurant owner, uses CoInspect to simulate official health inspections – helping his staff get trained and avoid thousands of dollars in fines!
Where we’re going
As we expand in the food industry, we’re exploring opportunities to streamline compliance across the farm-to-table supply chain. Eventually, we’re looking to take a similar approach to other regulated industries like housing, construction, and chemical waste.
Our team of lawyers, engineers, and entrepreneurs is passionate about simplifying the law. We believe mobile compliance software will save businesses money, allow workers to focus more on work they love, ensure health and safety laws are enforced, and improve individuals’ lives. That’s why we’re building MeWe.