Not so long ago the administration needed to run a major construction project relied almost entirely on pen, paper, excel spreadsheets and faxes. That has provided a huge opportunity for startups to take a stab at digitising the construction industry.
Brussels-based Aproplan, which bills itself as akin to “Salesforce for construction,” is one such company, and today is disclosing that it has raised €5 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Fortino Capital, and existing investors including Inventures, Matexi, and the co-founders of Showpad: Pieterjan Bouten, Louis Jonckheere, and Peter Minne.
I’m told the new capital will be used by Aproplan to further its marketing and sales capabilities and to develop new features to improve the on-site experience for the construction workers its wares serve. That includes creating a better and more efficient ‘paper trail’ — albeit, a digital one — as transparency, traceability and accountability is paramount in the construction industry.
Explains Aproplan co-founder and CEO Thomas Goubau: “The construction industry has been slow to adapt to technology. There are a lot of parties involved in a construction project and they simply do not trust one another. Actually, they trust each other so little that they still send documents via certified mail to protect themselves. Communication moves at a snail’s pace”.
As a result, the construction industry often deliverers subpar products. Goubau reckons that 30 per cent of construction projects end up in court, 20 per cent take longer than expected to finish, and 80 per cent run over budget.
“Think of where marketing was 16 years ago before Salesforce came around,” he says. “That’s where the construction industry has been up until recently. We want to change that so we created an app that works as a mutual space to share information, updates, and processes”.
Available for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS, the Aproplan app is designed to be used collaboratively by contractors, engineers, architects, and clients to facilitate communication, logging, and reporting of construction projects. So, for example, the app can help contractors digitise health and safety reports and for engineers to follow the plan needed to comply with building regulations.
“We are already seeing our solution gain significant traction – we recently signed an agreement with the Association of Major Belgian Contractors, a federation of Belgium’s 60 biggest construction companies,” adds Goubau. “They have committed to the digitisation of the Belgian construction sector and to use Aproplan to do so. Leading names in the construction industry like BESIX and BAM are already using Aproplan to improve on-time delivery and remain in budget”.
Of course, Aproplan isn’t the only upstart dragging construction into the 21st Century. Others operating in a similar space include U.S.-based PlanGrid, backed by the likes of Sequoia and Founders Fund, and in Europe there is GenieBelt.