The construction industry is often considered slow at adopting change but Kitchener-based startup Bridgit has broken ground quickly with its mobile application Closeout, a tool that simplifies communication on construction sites.
“We heard a lot of, ‘You’re never going to sell software to the construction industry, because it’s too old school,’” said Co-Founder Lauren Lake in an interview. “That was the outside point of view. When we actually went and spoke to all these people, they said, ‘Of course we want to use software, but there’s nothing.’”
Lake and Co-Founder Mallorie Brodie spent six months doing intensive market research on construction sites in the development of Closeout, which replaces the pen-and-paper task of documenting unfinished, damaged or incorrect work, referred to in the industry as a “punch list.”
With Closeout, users take pictures of the work areas and upload them along with notes for immediate viewing by the team, significantly streamlining the task.
The app has been adopted by about 100 companies since its launch in March 2014, including powerhouses Minto and CentreCorp.
Depending on the scale of the project, these companies pay between $800 and $3000 per month for the software.
Bridgit is now setting its sights on international growth, branching in to the New York construction ecosystem this past fall. The team plans to target other large construction cities such as Seattle, Houston and Washington, D.C., this year. If it continues its average rate of sales growth from 2015 — over 20 percent each month— Bridgit is poised to take a large chunk of the North American construction software market. There are now a range of startups (FinishLine, KO Punchlist) and established companies (Textura, AutoDesk) all vying for domination in this relatively new arena. The difference between Closeout and the competition is its simple design, said Lake.
“The main thing that we really focused on is keeping it as easy as possible,” she said, noting that the software has to integrate quickly in to a bustling construction site.
“You can take a site of 500 people and this afternoon they can be up and running with the effort of only a couple people.”
Reflecting back over the past year’s successes, Brodie said the key to the team’s momentum was continuously getting user feedback to improve the app, while Lake points to the team’s focus.
“There’s a lot of hype in the startup community,” she said. “We’ve just tried to keep our heads down and drive results.”
Instead, they’ve let the Kitchener-Waterloo community do the buzzing for them. The community played a large role in Bridgit’s recent win at Google Demo Day in Silicon Valley, where they represented Communitech.
“It was a really positive experience for us to bring back the prize to Canada and to Waterloo specifically,” said Brodie, adding that she and Lake made the conscious decision to build Bridgit in the Waterloo region because of the “great working culture.”
After beginning their journey at Western University, where Lake studied engineering and Brodie business, the co-founders used many Waterloo-area and Toronto startup programs including The Next 36, Creative Destruction Lab and, most recently, Communitech’s Rev sales accelerator. The company, now in its third year, wrapped up a round of funding this past summer, and won’t be seeking out any more until the Series A, which the co-founders are planning to kick off in early 2017.
There are many things that the pair are excited about for 2016 — among them the expansion into the U.S. and their first solo office space. But when asked if she had any personal resolutions for the New Year, only one came to mind for Lake: “Get more sleep.”