Platform-as-a-Service allows developers to create apps that can be employed on a core system. In construction, Asite’s doing it in the UK; Kahua is attracting investors in the US.
The global construction market is huge, sprawling and, in many countries, immensely fragmented. Thousands of businesses start up and die every month, and even in a relatively narrow niche such as the construction technology sector it can be difficult to keep up to date about every venture. However, sometimes I recognise a name associated with a company and give it a little more attention – for example, Kahua.
No, I haven’t mentioned this Alpharetta, Georgia, US-based business by this name before, but I have previously written about its CEO and co-founder, serial entrepreneur Scott Unger, and his previous businesses including Constructware (acquired by Autodesk in 2006), founded with Brian Moore. The duo also developed and eventually sold, in 2012, a business called Compliance 360. Kahua was launched in 2009 as Integrated Lifecycle Solutions (see my 2010 post), focusing, again, on B2B collaboration in construction. However, it aimed to introduce a new paradigm:
Among other things, its game-changing technology will enable independent stakeholders in a project to own, control and seamlessly share their independent project data and business processes. … Our platform will easily adapt to individual stakeholders’ business processes and user needs, solve the data ownership issue, and enable organizations to extend critical functionality to the field easily and cost-effectively.
Integrated Lifecycle Solutions closed two funding rounds totalling US$3.5m in 2010, and set about building a community of users of its Platform-as-a-Service. Core components of this platform include reporting, workflow, search, collaboration and mobility. Customers can build industry applications that are customized to their specific business processes. Kahua says this solves the “data ownership challenge”:
“By providing a single cloud platform where each company owns and controls their database, project stakeholders can finally collaborate efficiently and without having to adopt multiple systems or getting into costly data integration projects.”
Kahua also argues that this helps teams work how they want to work:
By maintaining all customer databases in a single cloud platform, data can easily flow from one company, or phase of the project to the next, without disruption. The data also remains in a format that’s completely “consumable” by each stakeholder’s specific applications, regardless of how these applications are configured or their level of complexity.
Development and consolidation
The platform was launched in 2012 (during which year the company also raised a further US$2m), and by the end of 2013, 48 third-party applications had been developed on the platform, now rebranded Kahua. In 2014, Kahua announced the release of integrated mobile document management apps allowing customers to access functionality on iOS and Android tablets and phones (the technology allows for any application designed on the Kahua Platform to run on any combination of PC, tablet or smart phone – so, a single application can be rapidly created and utilised immediately across many devices). Recent announcements and additions to the Kahua online store, kStore, include Lean Pull Planning, Design Review, and Safety and Inspections Checklist applications.
Kahua’s latest news (see Atlanta Business Chronicle) is that it has raised US$7m in a Series A round from several angel investors encouraged by the firm’s progress. In six years, the business had gained over 500 customers including construction firms, general contractors, hospital institutions and transportation authorities, and expects 2015 revenues to reach US$1m. The $7m will be invested in product development and sales and marketing, Unger said. One of the investors highlighted Kahua’s sales strategy: Kahua clients such as building owners and large construction companies mandate their sub-contractors, and vendors also use Kahua’s software: “That revenue model provides exponential growth without having to have a huge sales force.”
Other PaaS offerings
Mention of Platform-as-a-Service reminds me strongly of London, UK SaaS construction collaboration vendor Asite which set out to create its own PaaS offering following the launch of its AppBuilder platform in 2009 (I got a detailed briefing in August 2010; coincidentally, the Kahua partner-developed solution for rapid app creation is also called App Builder). Apps offered through the Asite platform include tools for contract management, time and expenses, BIM execution protocols, defects, etc.
(Another related, but more open, development I’ve seen – through COMIT – is the EU-funded MobiCloud project, which aims to create a European Corporate Appstore and the technology to develop the applications that it hosts in a cost-effective manner.)