Melbourne start-up Matrak attracts interest

Australian construction technology startup Matrak is attracting a lot of interest, having just raised Au$3 million in new funding.

Matrak logoMelbourne, Australia-based construction technology startup Matrak is attracting a lot of interest, particularly after being described (by a former Aconex chairman) as the next potential Australian contech “unicorn” following the success of Aconex (acquired by Oracle for US$1.2 billion in December 2017).  Matrak has just raised Au$3 million in new funding.

Matrak back story

Matrak is a construction workflow management application that helps suppliers and site-based installation teams track the manufacture, transport, delivery and installation of building components (read more in this SmartCompany article). It was developed by co-founders and brothers Shane and Brett Hodgkins, after Brett, a computer science graduate, worked on a window installation project for his father’s business in 2013. Paper dockets were then the only way to track what had been sent to site, so Brett developed a prototype mobile application which attracted interest from both the window manufacturer and the main contractor working on the project. Brett talked to Shane (also working in software development) about scaling the application, and the two bootstrapped Matrak for two years before officially launching the product in November 2016 and going full-time on the system.

Having secured customers in Australia and China, plus a first US customer, the company raised Au$765,000 in seed funding (well in excess of the Au$450,000 target) in August 2018, with a large investment coming from former Aconex chair Simon Yencken. By this stage, the app had tracked around Au$4 billion worth of construction materials. Less than a year later (2 July 2019 – read AFR article), Yencken has led a further funding round which has pumped Au$3m into Matrak.

Network effects

Construction Sector Deal coverYencken is apparently attracted by the same “network effects” which led to Aconex’s explosive growth: “In Matrak’s case, they win one builder and instantly the app is going to be in the hands of hundreds of suppliers.” He also welcomes the solution’s adoption by dozens of Chinese suppliers to the Australian building industry, who can take photos and scan QR codes provided by the app to verify their work. The  new investment round will help Matrak to double its current headcount of 13 this year, and to automate more of the app’s features. The solution is currently offered on both the Apple iOS and Google Android platforms.

In my view, such applications may also interest firms involved in projects deploying offsite manufacturing approaches. First mooted in December 2017, five UK government departments have adopted a presumption in favour of offsite construction, and the July 2018 Construction Sector Deal underlined the strategic importance of digital techniques and offsite manufacturing technologies.

 

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