When construction professional Dustin DeVan decided to quit his high-profile job at a leading construction company, he was left with a $5000 bank balance and a game-changing idea to address one of the key challenges in this space. “Construction is an incredibly collaborative space. Projects are built by the collective effort of many businesses working together. However, no companies were designing software with this in mind,” says DeVan, CEO and Founder of BuildingConnected. After years of experience in this space, DeVan knew that the sector needed a robust platform to streamline the operations and bridge the communication gap. "Earlier, construction software required the companies to maintain a static contact database of all vendors/subcontractors. That becomes very burdensome as the industry is highly transient. When you are managing contact information of thousands of people, you are constantly updating contact information. I realized that the advent of social networking platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn could help in solving this contact management problems,” he adds. DeVan decided to trounce the hurdle with a comprehensive bidding tool, which creates a network for professionals in commercial construction to communicate privately and securely about their projects—BuildingConnected.
Hassle Free Communication Model
BuildingConnected offers cloud-based solutions to help businesses manage the bidding process by allowing them to invite vendors to bid. Following the invitation process, streamlined messaging solutions keep all communication in one loop. It also offers a full on integrated and robust pre-qualification service to collect data on subcontractors, company-based analytics, and a set of reporting tools for tracking historical costs and relationships with contractors. “The most important value we provide customers is 'ease of use'—for both the general contractors and subcontractors.
The most important value we provide customers is ease of use for both the general contractors and subcontractors
Typically, general contractors have to maintain a large static database. Opting for our network means less time is spent on updating phone numbers, e-mails, and finding new leads. In addition, subcontractors only have to maintain one login to access all bid invites from all their clients,” explains DeVan. It also allows contractors to communicate to multiple parties about many different projects in the same way you can send private messages to different friends in your network on facebook.
Early this year, the team introduced their specialty feature Custom Bid Forms, which allows subscribers to easily create bid forms that ensure that bidders submit proposals in a uniform, structured format. The move is to tackle the pain of scouring through dozens of proposals in inconsistent formats, maintaining complex spreadsheets with fragile formulas, or tracking down vendors. “Here, all the information you need is laid out side-by-side through a proposal viewer, so your team can quickly analyze and start awarding contracts,” asserts DeVan.
Securing the Bidding Process
While facilitating a bid management in the construction industry, a core challenge that pops up is data security. The company emphasizes on the security feature by churning out all the communication through SSL (Secure Socket Layer), encryption keys, and password rotations on regular basis. In addition, the data is replicated in real-time to prevent loss during a catastrophic event. Elaborating more on the strategies, Jesse Pedersen, Founder & CTO at BuildingConnected, says, “We will facilitate more than $150 Billion of new construction bidding in Q4 2017 that means lots of data will come in. We feel deeply responsible for keeping that data secure, and in fact, every vital touch point during the bidding process is logged into our detailed history tracking service. Even if a bidder decides to share architectural files with one of their own vendors, you’ll be aware.” And of course, any bids submitted by a vendor are only visible to the host company and its sanctioned, employees. Gone are the days of bids being lost or siloed in employee email accounts. Unlike their counterparts, BuildingConnected allows the general contractors to have complete visibility into their entire organization. They can even aggregate data on performance, vendors, and project costs and analyze it across offices and geographies.
"Our software is now used to construct some of the nation’s largest and most strategic construction projects from new sports stadiums, theme parks, more than fifty storey high-rises and hundreds of hospitals"
The Valley and its Work Culture
DeVan attributes a major share of his company’s success to its location— Silicon Valley, that has become synonymous with technology, innovation, and startup. “Silicon Valley definitely has a mindset devoted to innovation, flexibility, nimbleness and the ability to think differently. This allows us to innovate and imple-ment new technologies regularly, which has now become the DNA of BuildingConnected,” he adds. In fact, the company has seen record levels of growth since its launch in 2012. This year alone, it has nearly tripled its customer base, growing from 330 general contractors to over 1,000 today in the U.S. and Canada. "In October, BuildingConnected’s bidding software was used to manage the bidding process on over $40-billion in new construction," noted DeVan. As a result of this growth and customer demand, the team is now launching a new set of premium features that give contractors the support and analytics tools they need to make smarter business decisions, faster.
BuildingConnected was in the headlines recently for closing $13.5 Million in Series A funding led by CrossLink Capital, with participation from existing investors Homebrew, Freestyle, Bee Partners and Brick & Mortar. With the total funding touching $17.7 Million, the team has plans to release a construction-specific CRM by the end of 2016 to help companies track all their opportunity, client information, success rates, integrations, and partnerships. “We will also be partnering with some of the major tech companies to integrate new features into our offerings. Our goal is to connect every professional and business in this industry to make pre-construction communication easier,” DeVan signs off.