Welcome to ‘Crazy for ConTech’ with Romey Oulton, a Q&A focused on the Construction Technology Industry.
This Q&A series is an opportunity for our North American Consultant Romey Oulton to discuss all things construction technology with key players who are championing innovation and digitalisation in the construction space.
Document Crunch was founded in 2019 by Josh Levy, Adam Handfinger and Adam Nadler—two lawyers and a serial businessman all with a rich history of working together. Josh Levy, who currently serves as the CEO at Document Crunch, first earned a degree in Construction Management from the University of Florida. He then entered law school a few years later and began clerking for the preeminent construction law firm in the United States.
Document Crunch simplifies construction contracts by quickly identifying critical risk provisions and provides teams with guidance to make great decisions throughout the entire project lifecycle. From General Contractors to Sub trades, Legal teams to Owners, Document Crunch helps make your life easier by making the contract review process a breeze.
What led you to Construction Tech?
After my construction management studies at the University of Florida, I decided I didn’t want to be a project manager. I worked for a start up for a few years and then pursued a career in law and worked with a prominent construction law firm during my time at the University of Following law school, I practiced law alongside Adam Handfinger, a highly accomplished partner. Years later, I joined a large general contractor in Atlanta in an in-house role. The overwhelming workload and constant questions from project personnel led me to seek support from Adam and our former law firm. This collaboration highlighted a critical need within the construction industry – a lack of resources and understanding when it comes to navigating complex construction contracts. This realization inspired our shared mission to revolutionize contract comprehension in the industry. We are dedicated to providing comprehensive solutions that equip construction professionals with the necessary tools and knowledge to effectively manage construction contracts.
Recognizing the potential of technology in easing document reviews, we realized that no platform specifically catered to the construction industry, especially non-legal users who make up the majority of the industry. This realization motivated us to get more serious about solving this problem. We brought in another co-founder, Adam Nadler, who had experience in building companies. Together, our goal was to create a product that resonated with the entire construction industry and empowered them to understand their contracts.
What was the mission of Document Crunch when you created it? And what is unique about your business VS. competitors?
The mission of Document Crunch is to empower everyone to understand what’s in their contracts. With extensive experience in the construction industry, we recognized that poor contracting standards and lack of compliance were contributing to risks and shrinking profits in the industry.
Initially, when Document Crunch was a new company, we educated potential customers about the problem and the vision we had to solve it. Many customers were unaware of the issues they were facing. However, through perseverance and commitment to our customers we became recognized as a trusted partner for transforming the contracting process.
Document Crunch has become the standard solution for the industry’s contracting pain points. The market now actively seeks Document Crunch to help companies understand and navigate their construction contracts.
Unique about DC: We are 100% construction focused. This is not a solution that has been curated for other use cases. We are founded by construction industry professionals and we focus on people in the construction space. Everything that we do, from the type of user interface that we have, to the workflows that we solve for, to the way that our product performs is designed for the construction industry.
Why is it that the construction industry is deemed ‘slow’ or ‘resistant’ to adopting technology? Is this justified? If so, what are some of the barriers you’re seeing?
It can be partially justified. As one of the leaders trying to make it in the construction-tech industry, I am acutely aware of the perception that the construction industry is slow or resistant to adopting technology. However, the data reveals some compelling facts that support this perception.
The construction industry invests only 1.5% of its revenue in IT, as opposed to the average of 3.3% across all industries, according to a study by McKinsey & Company. This statistic highlights the need for a greater emphasis on technology and its transformative potential within our sector. Additionally, a survey conducted by KPMG showed that 65% of construction professionals identified resistance to change as a significant barrier to adopting new technologies. This finding confirms the challenges we face in introducing innovative solutions and navigating the industry’s cautious mindset.
Despite these obstacles, Document Crunch is at the forefront of the construction-tech revolution, and we are committed to driving change. We are dedicated to demonstrating the tangible value of technology with the infusion of AI in addressing the industry’s pain points, integrating seamlessly into existing workflows, and providing comprehensive training and support programs to bridge the knowledge gap. But most importantly, we just get the industry and we aim to serve as a value added partner in everything we do.
By understanding the barriers and utilizing data-driven insights, we can actively collaborate with industry stakeholders to build trust and drive adoption. Together, we have the opportunity to transform the construction industry by unlocking the power of technology and revolutionizing how contracts are managed.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pivot into ConTech? What should someone already in ConTech look for in their next steps?
I think the first thing I would advise someone to do is to become familiar with the trends, challenges and opportunities in the ConTech landscape. That starts with getting to really know and empathize with our industry. It is just different in construction! Secondly, I would say to build meaningful relationships with other professionals in the ConTech space. Go to industry conferences, connect with people on LinkedIn, get involved with organizations that have webinars or in-person sessions. Expanding your network not only will allow you to learn from others, but it also brings new opportunities.
If you are already in the ConTech space, the single most important thing right now is to foster an environment, team or company of innovation. Don’t wait for an opportunity, look for opportunities. Find ways to get ahead of the curve, stay on top of new advancements, and take initiative to find ways you can grow. Embracing innovation is key.
What will be the biggest trend in the ConTech space in 2023? What will be the biggest challenge?
The integration of AI in processes of business is undeniably the biggest trend in the construction tech space, revolutionizing the industry’s efficiency and capabilities. While AI models like ChatGPT have shown impressive advancements, they are not standalone solutions and require human input to be effective. AI can process vast amounts of data and enhance construction software, but it cannot replace the expertise and insights of experienced Construction Professionals, even Lawyers. By combining purpose-built AI models with human expertise, technology solutions are set to replace traditional methods and empower professionals to work more efficiently.
For instance our core products couldn’t exist without AI, but our goal is not to be an AI contract software. Our goal is to empower everyone to understand their construction contracts. We’re a curious company and because our product is built on a foundation of high quality, finely tuned AI, we closely monitor the evolution of AI and Machine Learning (ML). We are constantly experimenting to understand how we can leverage each new development to accomplish our mission of helping everyone in the construction industry to understand and optimize their contracts
However, along with this trend, the biggest challenge we anticipate in 2023 is ensuring data security and privacy. The construction industry has traditionally been cautious when it comes to embracing cloud technology due to concerns about the confidentiality and protection of sensitive project information.
According to a report by Procore, 64% of construction professionals view data security as the most significant barrier to adopting cloud-based technologies. As a result, our company will place a strong emphasis on implementing robust cybersecurity measures, complying with industry standards, and providing our clients with the confidence that their contract data is secure. By addressing these challenges head-on, we can build trust and drive adoption of cloud-based contract management solutions.
Overall, the ConTech space in 2023 holds great promise with the increasing adoption of AI integrated solutions. By embracing this trend while proactively addressing data security concerns, our company is poised to empower construction industry professionals with streamlined contract processes, enhanced collaboration, and improved risk management.
Growth plans for Document Crunch: 1 year, 3 years, 5 years (i.e: geographies, products, verticals, headcount, funding)
Our growth plan is to be really at scale in the construction industry. We want to be used by every participant, on every project, every day.
Tell us about your approach to talent acquisition and company culture? Has it changed over the past few years? If so, how?
The company culture at Document Crunch is what truly makes a difference. Namely, our People are behind all of our success. Our core values for all of these people are being warm-hearted, inspired, and growth minded.
Although our team has grown significantly over the last few years, and we are all spread apart (location wise), we make the effort to take time to bond and collaborate with each other.
Ensuring we have created an environment where each team member feels supported and valued will always be at the forefront of our culture. We give everyone the opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed in their careers. We celebrate individual and team successes and try to create an environment where everyone on our team feels valued.
Lastly, every single person who works at Document Crunch is dedicated to their role and truly believes in our mission to empower everyone in the construction industry.
What advice would you give someone looking to join the Document Crunch team? What qualities/ characteristics/ experience/ skillet/ mindset really stands out to you?
Be passionate about transforming the Document Crunch was developed out of our passion to raise industry standards, so having the passion and drive to transform the construction industry is most important.
Have an innovative We want to be able to help our customers with all the pain points, pressing issues and risks that they may be facing in today’s landscape, so staying updated with the construction industry and following trends, whether it is listening to podcasts, reading articles or attending industry events, is essential in the ConTech space.
Be a leader and a team player. Taking initiative and motivating others is of high value in our team, but so is supporting and collaborating with team We all continually learn from each other as we grow as a company and make the effort to make a positive impact each and every day.
At the core of every single company is the team that started it all, so having a strong and diverse company, where every single team member brings their unique expertise and skills that are in alignment with Document Crunch’s mission, is our end goal.
All of the above really fits neatly into the fact that all the Crunchers embrace our core values to be warm-hearted, inspired and growth-minded.
What’s been your high and low points as an entrepreneur?
There have been multiple high points in founding Document Crunch. Some of the most memorable high points are winning our first award in 2020, where we won the Start-Up Battle at the Association of Union Contractors’ (TAUC) Industrial Grade Innovation event, and also in 2021, when we won the CEMEX Ventures Construction Startup Competition. Both of these awards were a testament to our company and the vision we saw for the future of the construction industry.
However over time, my high points really relate to watching our customers use the product and integrate it more and more into their teams over time. That validation is the best! Initially a few employees in back offices were using our product, and as their companies evolved, so did the use of our product. Now, with so many of our customers there are dozens of employees that are using the product too. Seeing how empowered our customers are by using Document Crunch, is something that will continue to be a high point for me.
My low point as an entrepreneur deals with sometimes complex and evolving challenges that can emerge for someone who is a first time founder. It is very hard to know one is making the right decision around issues I don’t have previous experience in. That said, I lean on my core values, and always try to do the right thing. Sometimes the decisions work out and sometimes they don’t but the fear of the unknown can be hard. It also really helps to have amazing co-founders, investors, advisors and employees around me. Many of my decisions do come from some level of collaboration with others who I admire and respect.
What is your guilty pleasure? And favorite song?
My guilty pleasure is vegging out on an NFL Sunday and kind of just chilling out all day long and just binging on football. I am so active for so much of the week that just being totally lazy, at home with my family around, just feels great!
Favorite song- it varies by the mood of my 9 and 7 year old daughters. Right now they are digging country and we have a lot of fun singing “One Man Band”.
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