GenieBelt, a European startup co-founded by Klaus Nyengaard, the former CEO of Just Eat, has built a project management and communications platform for the somewhat antiquated construction industry.
And now that the so-called ‘ConTech’ company feels that it has found market fit for its wares, it’s secured €2 million in new investment to ramp up marketing for the platform.
Leading the round is Danish Solar A/S, a publicly listed European sourcing and services company operating within the electrical, heating and plumbing, and ventilation technology sectors. That’s quite a coup and can be seen as some validation of GenieBelt’s offering, given that Solar is a major player in an industry adjacent to construction.
Meanwhile, Nyengaard himself also participated in the round, and is currently GenieBelt’s Chairperson. Despite handing over CEO duties to Ulrik Branner, he remains actively (and, based on a call I had with him a few weeks ago) passionately involved with the burgeoning startup.
“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,” he tells me. “At the same time it is the big industry that invests the least in technology. There is probably a link here”.
To solve this problem, GenieBelt has built a project management and communication platform to improve efficiency in the way construction teams collaborate and communicate. That, of course, includes multiple sub-contractors involved in a construction project of any size. Each project gets an overview and instant access to project updates, which can be filed in real time via a mobile app and mobile phone camera by construction workers and site managers actually on the ground.
The simple digitisation of the project management and communication process, sometimes even replacing the legacy use of pen and paper and Excel spreadsheets has the potential to dramatically improve the productivity of the construction workforce.
A bit like software development, it could be argued, construction has multiple dependencies. A problem or delay in one part of the project can have a direct knock-on effect on another part. By reducing the lag in reporting and enabling a project manager to get an instant overview of how a project is progressing and the ability to spot problems and delays ahead of time, those inefficiencies can be mitigated.
“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,” adds Nyengaard.
“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. 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.”