Australian startup APE Mobile is spreading its wings internationally, looking to grow a US-based sales team and maybe add a London office in the future.
At Digital Construction Week in London in October, I met up with several businesses I had previously written about – one was APE Mobile, a Perth, Australia-based company I first encountered in October 2014.
Founder Matt Edwards had applied his project experience and in November 2013 launched APE Mobile’s Paperless Site app for contractors working on-site, helping them manage memos, forms, actions, drawings and documents, plus reports, via Apple iOS devices, while an open API enabled easy data exchange with back-office business systems. Recommendation and word-of-mouth marketing quickly extended APE Mobile beyond its Western Australia heartland (it enjoyed monthly revenue growth of 20% in its first year).
In August 2015, Edwards announced a Series A funding round led by Jolimont Global and Viburnum Funds, giving the company access to Au$2m (then c £0.94m or US$1.47m) to fund further product development and to drive growth . Then I noted that it wasn’t trying to compete with pure SaaS construction collaboration vendors, like Aconex, but was positioning itself as complementing existing solutions.
APE Mobile targeting Europe
Kevin Reece, Ape Mobile’s head of growth, was in London on 18 October to check out the competitive landscape (as well as visiting DCW, APE Mobile also exhibited at National Construction Week in Birmingham and was going to have a stand at London Build). He said: “We were very focused on Australia for the first couple of years, and since the start of 2017, we’ve been doing more marketing overseas – in the US, UK and New Zealand (we did a couple of US shows: CONExpo and the AGC IT forum) – and now about 25% of our customers are outside Australia.”
He said monthly recurring revenues were up 52% in the last quarter, and they were about to recruit sales people for the US market, complementing an Australia-based team that was stretched to cope with the time differences involved in international sales; a London office would be the logical next step after the US West Coast operation in Denver was established.
The company had also been boosted by advice from Leanne Graham, a former Xero executive and experienced cloud technology executive, appointed chairman of Ape Mobile in April 2016. Since her appointment, the company raised a further Au$2m from existing investors in late 2016, is currently closing a funding round, and plans a larger fund-raising round in 2018 to help it solidify its US presence.
“APE Mobile is building on its strengths to provide the kind of transformational insights that contractors will depend on to win in this rapidly changing industry. We realised that all people really want is to understand what’s happening on site, and because we capture data in a unique way, we have vast amounts of rich data that can be put to good use. We started by enabling access to data, and providing simple insights, but the evolution of this will be to essentially rollback time, which has many use cases such as safety management and contract disputes.”
Integrations (via a fully-documented public API) with Sage 300 CRE, Viewpoint’s Vista and Dexter + Cheney Spectrum, have also helped make the product attractive to users of those ERP systems; the company has also started integrations to Procore and Aconex, he said, and was looking at other AEC-specific vendors. A partner programme was also helping to extend the company’s marketing reach.