Interview with Archdesk
Of drones and machine learning
Archdesk provides an all-in-one Enterprise Resource Planning system. The cloud-based ERP system aims to cover all management software needs for construction, production and service industry businesses. Amongst others, functionallity allow to manage clients, work force or to-do lists, while also offering accounting, quotation, scheduling and project, process and stock management tools. All features are custom-made to work seamlessly in one software package. Archdesk CTO Michal Mojzesz shares his perspective on the digitalization of the construction industry.
(This interview is part of a larger dossier called "Construction Start-up Radar")
- What will the construction industry look like in 2020? What role does digitalization play?
The use of modern technology will also affect construction. One of the most interesting will be wider implementation of BIM in non-government projects: drones steered by precision lasers to exact spots, taking pictures each day; these pictures are later processed by image recognition algorithms to provide interactive progress of work; remote controled units on land/indoor/underground, where drones cannot fly; bluetooth low energy devices scattered on the site to track work force and assets moving; helmets with head-on display and augmented reality applications help to display H&S warnings or to navigate to exact spots on site.
Machine learning can help predict budgets, work schedule or health & safety issues. ML/AI will be particularly interesting for predicting safety issues, based on work schedule, machinery involved, movements and data input from various sensors on site. Scattered devices will help to deliver warnings directly to safety helmets alerting of a potential risk ahead.
- What is your business model? What makes you and your company unique?
Half of our team are domain experts with years of experience in the construction industry running their own companies, the other half are tech savvy people who want to bring all the available technology to the realm of construction. We are developing modern software for an industry neglected by the tech sector, even though it is one of the biggest industries with a massive potential of technological improvement.
- What is your company vision (5 years)?
Apart from providing an all-in-one ERP system that should cover all management software needs for construction business, we plan on implementing BIM servers to facilitate full collaboration within Archdesk, including merging of plans, collision detection and 3D rendering inside the browser.
We plan to gradually implement machine learning to assist with budget planning and work scheduling. First Archdesk machine learning updates are scheduled for the last quarter of 2017.
The most exciting plans we can share are drones. The base idea is to automatically deploy and upload progress of work each day directly to Archdesk. Drones will be sold with pre-installed software and ready to fly via Archdesk platform.
- What does your revenue model look like?
We understand that choosing such software is a long term decision. Therefore we offer a transparent monthly subscription model, paid for each active user. There are no up-front fees, no cancellation fees and no minimum length contracts. Our cheapest price is £39 per user. The average company size is 10-20 users, on a £48 plan this means £960 a month. Archdesk has already worked at many various construction and production businesses, our service is definitely worth the price, hence we offer 30 days free trial for all customers as we are confident in our pricing model and that customers stay with us.
- How is your company funded?
The company is already generating revenue and is close to becoming profitable. We have been funded by our founders and their construction firms.
- As a start-up, what is your next goal? What partners do you need?
The longterm goal is to move away from sales and let the company focus on developing and maintaining software and hardware. We want to partner with resellers of the software in various countries. Currently, we are interested in the UK, as our primary market. We have interested parties coming from the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Australia, South Africa and the US. We are looking for domain experts, mentors and resellers of the software. We are currently considering opening ourselves for Series A to fund US entry and help us grow quicker and therefore would be looking for a VC partner.
- Who are your key clients?
- What are the biggest challenges your clients are currently facing?
Movement of information in real time. Especially when it comes to work scheduling, lack of information from the site is usually the biggest factor as of why works are delayed. Usually, there is a complicated tree of dependencies, work must be done in the correct order.
Integrating the whole company is a big challenge, as the construction industry is not very tech savvy, workforce often have problems using software and prefer to stick to pen and paper. The vast majority of small/medium construction firms are also still stuck in excel. We however start seeing this change as younger generation of more tech savvy people are joining the industry on management levels.
- What options do you offer to potential clients to face their challenges (e.g. workshops, coachings)?
One of our representatives meets clients at their offices. They explain to us how their company currently operates. On this basis we suggest how it could improve; we prepare an Archdesk version configured specifically for this firm, including all the business processes they require. Then we provide trainings to either all the staff or to one person who can propagate the knowledge within the company. The whole usually takes 2 days.
We try to start on a minimal level to avoid disruption in the business, we slowly integrate all departments one by one.
We provide training materials in text, video as well as online, telephone and on-site support.
- What prerequisites (e.g. infrastructure, trained personnel, etc.) do your clients need to bring?
All of our customers must have access to the internet via PC, laptop, tablet or mobile. It is as simple as that.
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