Launched in 2010, Asktobi aims to be an e-tendering-led ‘one-stop shop’
Gateshead, UK-based Asktobi is an “online business networking, e-commerce and information centre for the construction industry”. Its core offering is an online e-tendering system, providing tendering/subcontract enquiry and document management platforms, alongside third-party take-off and estimating tools (Take-off Live, and Fast-Estimate from Estek). The company also provides stationery and publications, and a supplier database (once registered, suppliers can be alerted to receive invitations to tender) and related forum (open to people registered on the supplier database).
The Asktobi platform is offered on a per-user license, starting from £49.99 per month for a single user up to £389.99/month for 10 users, though the company has also been Twittering about a free three-month trial. The company claims its system can save up to 60% of initial tendering costs for contractors and architects by by reducing staff time, resources and stationery costs required to run a tender or contract.
There are certainly substantial savings to be made through e-tendering, though Asktobi faces competition from, among others, the RICS and established vendors of construction collaboration platforms – 4Projects, Asite, BIW, Sarcophagus, etc – which have incorporated tendering into their core design and construction management workflows. But this is a big market; only 18 months ago BCIS was highlighting how most tenders were still posted or emailed to customers (post). There is also a lot of competition in the supplier database sector (Asite, for example, has had a company directory since it started, and there are numerous information portals) and many other industry forums, ranging from publication-backed discussion pages to LinkedIn, and places on industry social networking sites.
Launched in early 2010, the Asktobi business has been developed by Nick Mason (LinkedIn), a quantity surveyor formerly at Amec with over 20 years experience in the construction and renewable energy industry. He aims to create a ‘one stop shop’ for services for industry commercial staff (news release). Asktobi.com was incorporated in September 2009 with a registered office in Hexham.