Tauranga software firm SwipedOn's "innovative" visitor management app is expanding into the lucrative American market.

To help keep up with demand, the company has recently employed five extra full-time staff, and in the next four to six weeks SwipedOn's founder and chief executive Hadleigh Ford said they planned to open an office in Boulder, Colorado to help service its growing number of American clients.

"It makes sense to open an office in the US as 40 per cent of our customer base are American clients."

Ford said the software-as-service company had gone from strength to strength since it was established in 2013.

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At the time Ford was working as a harbour pilot and steering some of the largest ships into New Zealand ports.

In 2016, Ford launched the SwipedOn visitor management app, a cloud-based iPad visitor management system which can replace paper-based visitor books, with no financial backing or a sales team.

The app is now used in more than 2000 cities worldwide and the firm has exceeded $1 million of annual recurring revenue and raised $1m in private capital, Ford said.

Callaghan Innovation will provide a "substantial" research and development grant, initially for a three-year term, and will contribute 20 per cent of all eligible spend that SwipedOn makes on research and development, up to $15m.

Ford said the bulk of the firm's private investors were Tauranga-based Enterprise Angels, KiWi and NZVIF.

SwipedOn is also a finalist in the 2018 NZ High Tech Awards this Friday, and a
double finalist in next month's Bay of Plenty Export Awards.

"We're over the moon that all our hard work has been recognised and the grant from Callaghan certainly helps us accelerate our pace of development and innovation," he said.

"While we started out as a modern replacement for antiquated visitor books, which is more efficient and far better for the environment, we see many ways we can enhance the entire visitor experience," Ford said.

The company was growing so fast that generally, an extra staff member was having to be added to its workforce every one to two weeks, he said.

Currently, 14 staff work at its Tauranga-based office and two staff in South Africa provide overnight support services, he said.

SwipedOn's target audience was small and medium-sized businesses and for each new client signed up, a tree was planted in a reserve in the Kaimai Range, he said.