Business Technology

Sunday 21 January 2018

Start-up of the week: Firm to build on construction app

THE construction sector would not be renowned for being a hotbed of innovation. To outsiders at least, the idea of putting bricks on top of other bricks and sticking cement in the middle does not sound like the most technical of businesses.

The reality of course is much different. Construction, as anybody in the industry will tell you, is among the most precise businesses on the planet. Big construction projects inevitably mean a lot of management.

This is where SmartBuilder Software comes in.

The NovaUCD headquartered firm launched its Plan2Finish app last week and is looking to break into the lucrative construction industry in the US and elsewhere.

There are other apps in the market but for company chief executive Peter Daly, Plan2Finish's big advantage is the simplicity it provides, and the cost. "At the moment when an engineer needs to do an inspection at a site, they have to go into the field, take a notebook and write things down on it and take digital images and attach them before sending them off," he says.

"That is a time consuming and costly process, and with our app you can cut that down significantly," he adds.

The company behind a rival product was ultimately bought by a US firm for $76m (€64m) so it is a lucrative market if you can get things right. And yet none of the apps available can offer the savings Smartbuilder says its app can.

"Most of the programmes on the market cost as much as $25,000 a year and require advanced technical training," says Mr Daly.

"With our one, the app can be loaded onto a tablet computer and the cost can be as little as $2,000."

The Enterprise Ireland-backed firm employs five people at present but that number is likely to rise later this year when it begins its foray into the US.

The massive US market is a key one for Smartbuilder and it looks to be in the right location for it. Austin, Texas has emerged as something of a second Silicon Valley. The firm has a small office in place there already. In Ireland, engineering firm Arup is already using the app and reports a 25pc saving in costs because of it.


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