TechCrunch says the round was led by Danish Solar A/S, a publicly listed European sourcing and services company operating within the electrical, heating and plumbing, and ventilation technology sectors. GenieBelt chairman Klaus Nyengaard, formerly CEO of Just Eat, also participated in the round (which follows previous rounds in November 2013 and February 2015). Echoing this week’s KPMG report (previous post), he said:
“Construction is huge (one of the biggest industries in the world, around 8 per cent of GDP) and one of those suffering the most from problems in terms of quality, cost over-runs, and customer dissatisfaction. At the same time it is the big industry that invests the least in technology. There is probably a link here”.
I have been watching GenieBelt since its foundation in 2013 [Disclosure: I have also undertaken some consultancy work for the company], and have welcomed its simple-to-start-and-use mobile-first philosophy as an antidote to the feature-bloat of some other (PC-oriented, pre-smartphone) systems in the market. It is also focused more on the needs of the small and medium-sized businesses (which make up the vast majority of the construction industry in just about every country), and is priced attractively for that market, with a 2014 “free forever” offering to get users to trial the system. It recruited former Woobius founder Bob Leung to lead its user experience work (February 2014), and has been testing out real-time communication approaches that will be familiar to many users of social media applications.
This is a competitive sector – last December, for example, I noted five businesses, including GenieBelt, all targeting the UK (BaseStone and FinalCad also both presented at a recent COMIT community day), plus three startups in Australia and another three in the US and Canada (and the number continues to grow); and then we have the mobile offerings from longer-established ‘extranet’ vendors. Nyengaard accepts this:
“GenieBelt is not the only one seeing an opportunity to do something here — several startups have in the last couple of years set out to help construction improve using better SaaS technology, user-friendly UX, cheaper pricing, mobile, etc., so now we are seeing the emergence of ‘ConTech’ as a tech sector.
However, it is still emerging, and in Europe no one has really had a break-through to create a work-flow management solution that has the potential to challenge the status quo. In the U.S., on the other hand, there are a couple of companies that have received good money based on good traction at some scale, especially PlanGrid [Plangrid gets $18m funding, May 2015]. Now, we at GenieBelt are seeing traction from users and customers globally. As far as I can see, there is no other European ConTech company in the workflow category that has managed to get to this stage.”
According to its website, GenieBelt is now being used on more than 8000 projects in over 100 countries.