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Crazy for ConTech with Josh Lowe, AkitaBox


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 Head of ConTech, Romey Oulton, to discuss all things construction technology with key players who are championing innovation and digitalisation in the construction space. 

This week we have been in touch with Josh Lowe, Chief Solutions Officer and Co-Founder of AkitaBox.

AkitaBox was founded in Madison, WI in 2015 and has raised its capital entirely from the middle of the country. AkitaBox started as our four founders were working in a large Midwest construction organization. They consistently heard from customers and operations leaders about a technology disconnect – facilities built using the latest 3-D CAD construction were handed over to the building owner with a mountain of paper blueprints and manuals.

With our founders’ strength in collecting data, they realized they could bridge that gap. They took the sophisticated technology they used in construction and applied it to facility operations by developing a way to present locational data in an easy-to-use format. This vision continues today with the evolution of AkitaBox software to better enable the telling of a building’s history, current condition, and projected future. In turn, this allows superior, data-driven decision making, from the boiler room to the boardroom.

Can you describe the inspiration behind being a co-founder? What motivated you to choose this path and found AkitaBox?

That is a hard question because it wasn’t something I was in search of. It just kind of happened.  The quest of searching for solutions sometimes leads us to creating marketable solutions that fill a gap in the market.  Leaving solid footing to jump off a cliff and build a parachute as you fall sounds crazy but it’s something that I found I really enjoy.


Talk to me about AI in construction… thoughts, feelings and concerns? 

AI is everywhere.  It has changed the focus of entire organizations in the course of 9 months.   Let’s start with the concerns…  You have to approach powerful technology the same way you would approach anything that has the potential to be dangerous.  However I get in a car everyday and at one time we fought that technology change because it was dangerous and going to threaten our very existence.  As far as thoughts…  I have so many we could kill a week talking about them.   AI is exciting for a reason.  The one point I lean on when having the conversation more than anything is the current rate of change.  Think of the fact that between 1440-1900 it took 400 years to double our information as humans.  We doubled it again between 1900-1950 so 50 years.  We are now doubling our information every 12-13 hours as humans currently.  This rate of change is not even comprehensible by our brain.  AI has the potential to help move us through this information in a coherent way.  


Imagine you have the ability to predict the future of construction technology. What breakthrough innovation do you think will completely change the industry in the next 10 years?

Augmented reality paired with robotics and AI.  


What learnings did you take from working with your boots on the ground as a project engineer and senior innovation lead, to the world of tech start-ups? Were there any unexpected obstacles along the way, and how did you navigate them?

I learned about software and how you can learn from getting thrown out of a job trailer trying to push technology on people who have built careers without ever touching it.  How to get buy-in from someone who has calluses so thick they can’t use a touch screen phone because it thinks their hands are dead.


What’s your secret sauce to success? Any advice you’d give to aspiring entrepreneurs or innovators in the ConTech space?

Talk to you clients so that you can listen to them and their needs…   And most importantly act on that priceless information.


What does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you? What value does it bring to you and your team?

We take DE&I to heart at AkitaBox.  We are very diverse in the world of technology.    We are 38% female at AkitaBox and proud of all the diversity we have.  


Tell us about AkitaBox’s approach to talent acquisition and culture? Has it changed since you first founded the company?

I don’t think we have changed at our core but we have evolved.   I am not sure if this is due to internal or external forces.  COVID changed a lot for us in terms of talent acquisition.  We went from being all in one office and hiring locally to having talent all over the country.  


Growth plans for AkitaBox: 6 months, 1 year, 3 years (i.e: geographies, products, verticals, hiring, funding)

We plan to double down on our core product and expand our usage both upstream and in other verticals.   Healthcare, Education and Local Government are big focuses this year but we also market to service providers in those spaces as well as directly serving the building owners.


What is your favourite quote? If you could have dinner with any two famous people, dead or alive, who would you choose?  

  • Too hard to choose two….  But if I had to, it would have to be a founding father and Taylor Swift at the same time.
  • “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed” – The Economist, December 4, 2003, William Gibson

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