WATCH: Brick by brick, how this SaaS startup brings transparency to the construction industry
A construction site is not for the fainthearted. Dizzying scaffolds, plumes of dust, and noisy machinery churning mortar can be an assault to the senses. But the mess does not end there. The construction industry, especially in India, is plagued by a persistent lack of transparency and efficiency. From materials sourcing and vendor management to financials and operations, technology plays a very insignificant role, and it shows.
"Technology is almost absent at the construction site. No one knows what is going on with the working capital as the money spent is over-reported and never matches what goes into the construction site,” Sashi Kiran says.
This is why he, along with Gautam Mayur and Aditya Shankar, decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge with Bengaluru-based FalconBrick to build technology that can help real-estate entrepreneurs and site managers operate seamlessly with complete visibility over man and material.
Watch this interview with YourStory to know more about their journey:
When they met in 2015, Sashi, Gautam, and Aditya each came with a decade’s experience in consulting, sales, and tech, respectively. Sashi and Gautam both worked in the FMCG supply chain, while Aditya put in the hours at various tech companies. Each had worked on startups and set up companies too.
The building blocks of transparency
So what does their startup, FalconBrick, which was set up in 2016, actually do?
The founders say the platform is essentially a companion to a real-estate businessman, giving him complete visibility over cost, quality, and time needed to finish a construction project. With FalconBrick, he can know what is being ordered and why those items are being ordered at the construction site. The app allows onsite managers to work with ready mix, batching, and flooring contractors. The project manager is then able to report to the head office about the status of each project in a transparent manner.
The app also manages information about each work schedule on a real-time basis.
The startup’s very first project came from real-estate biggie Brigade Group.
"We went with a small presentation and a hypothesis to the Brigade Group. They liked the idea and it clicked; they asked us to build the tech for them and that's how it began," says Gautam Mayur, Co-founder of FalconBrick.
Aditya then quickly built the product and got it rolling in early 2016. Tthanks to the success with the startup’s first two clients, the product is now part of the tech stack of 60 real-estate companies.
Scaling greater heights
Since then, the business has scaled up in revenues (which the founders do not want to disclose). The founding team has jointly invested less than Rs 75 lakh. It raised an undisclosed amount in an angel round in 2017 from Singapore Angel Network.
Sources say the company has totally raised $500,000 from undisclosed investors.
The founders are confident of more businesses coming on board purely due to the convenience and bird’s-eye view the platform gives decision makers in the real-estate industry.
"The owner of any real estate business doesn’t have to travel to the site on a regular basis, and need not look at bills sent by the vendors. The app captures the information at source and since the material sourced is tracked by FalconBrick, there can be no falsification of information,” Gautam adds.
A towering opportunity
Today, there are more than 60,000 real estate companies in India, according to Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (Credai). India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) pegs the real estate industry to be a $250 billion opportunity in India.
But FalconBrick has ambitions beyond India.
"We are scaling up nationally and have a good set of builders who are signing long-term contracts with us. We will have so much data about onsite construction that we can expand this business globally. But, India itself is such a big business opportunity," Gautam says.
The startup works with builders in Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Delhi. The subscription model is on a per-year or pay-per-use.
Many companies solving different aspects of Indian real estate. ZippServ solves for the authenticity of documents, HousingMan helps builders find buyers for their inventory, and Kasu Assets constructs and manages homes.
The real-estate tech industry is just about going to boom, although the real-estate industry itself has gone through a prolonged glut because of builders not being able to sell inventory at the right price and in debt for incomplete projects.
However, with the data being given precedence by tech companies like FalconBrick, builders can manage their financial health better and save a lot on their working capital woes.