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Crazy for ConTech with Matthew Kleiman, Cumulus


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 Matthew Kleiman, Co-Founder and CEO of Cumulus.

Cumulus is a Quality Management System (QMS) that digitalizes manual work that is mission-critical, high volume, and difficult to automate to ensure that this work is done right the first time, every time. Its software improves the quality and productivity of safety-critical workflows, and is used to configure and visualize work activities across a wide range of industries. Cumulus is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, with offices in Houston, Texas, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

What motivated you to found Cumulus? What’s the problem, how are you fixing it, how are you different? 

Construction has a 30% rework rate, which means 30% of manual work has to be redone because it was not completed properly the first time. This adds a major cost to projects (12% on average) and is a common cause of worker injuries and fatalities.

I saw the impact of this first hand when I was working on capital projects in the energy industry. We would meticulously plan every aspect of our projects, and see those plans go sideways when something would go wrong in the field. That is why the last 20% of a project schedule can take more than 50% of the time. It’s also the inspiration for the saying, “we did it right because we did it twice!”

It was clear that quality management was not being properly addressed by the construction industry. A visual inspection can tell you that work was completed, but it does not tell you whether work was completed correctly. Cumulus incorporates quality management into the execution of the project itself by making it easy to digitize work procedures, guiding workers through each step of the SOP, and validating with technology and analytics that each step was completed properly. 

The premise of our technology is actually based on a principle from ISO 9000 that breaks quality down into three steps: 1. Write down what you do. 2. Do what you write down. 3. Make sure you are doing it.


From the world of law, to working at Shell, to founding a contech start-up – what learnings have you taken along the way? Challenges? Opportunities? Talk to us about transferable skills. 

Too many to list, but here are two that stick out:

  • Every opportunity also comes with a certain amount of risk. There are two types of people in the world: those who view risk as something to be avoided, and those who view risk as something to be managed. The best outcomes are achieved by those who manage risk, but are not afraid of it.
  • An entrepreneur is someone who observes a problem with the status quo, and is willing to risk their finances, career, or reputation to do something about it. Anyone in any organization can be an entrepreneur who affects change, it’s not just about being in a traditional, venture-backed startup. 


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given to bolster your career?

From an early business mentor of mine: don’t be greedy. 

  • What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are looking to make a positive impact through technology-driven solutions to construction?

Don’t fall in love with your technology. You should be starting a company to solve a business problem for your customers. At the early stages, your technology may or may not solve that problem. That remains to be proven. Be willing to adapt and change as you learn, but always keep the problem you are solving front and center. 


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

I am a big believer in the principle from Good to Great of “get the right people on the bus, then figure out where the bus is going.” We of course need to find people with specific skills for specific roles, but being obsessed with doing what needs to be done to create value for customers is at the core of what we look for in team members and our culture. The details of Cumulus’ business and product has and will continue to change and evolve over time. The focus on helping our customers make sure work is done right on their projects is a constant. 


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

We are very focused on reaching profitability this year. We have customers on 5 continents, but I expect most of our growth will continue to be in North America and Southeast Asia. We are incorporating AI into every aspect of our product suite to make user onboarding seamless and generate valuable, quality-focused insights for our customers. 


What’s the biggest challenge Vs opportunity that construction and construction technology faces in 2024?

The world needs new and better infrastructure, but we don’t have enough people to build it well, so the industry needs to make better use of the resources that are available, such as eliminating rework. Technology has a major role to play in this. 

A problem we have now is an oversaturation of technology in the industry. On the one hand, construction is massively under-penetrated from a digitalization perspective. On the other hand, there are now thousands of startups and many large companies all competing for limited technology dollars. That saturation is combined with the fact that many construction companies do not have the internal capabilities to evaluate, acquire, and scale up new technology platforms. The result can be gridlock where nothing is decided and the status quo persists. 


What is your guilty pleasure? What is your favourite quote? 

My guilty pleasure is YouTube. I can easily find myself going down a rabbit hole of videos for hours if I don’t stop myself. 

My favorite quote is “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” I don’t know who said it, but it was on a poster in my room as a kid, and I have always tried to live by that dictum. 

LMRE are specialist PropTech recruiters, if you need help growing your business or making any key hires please get in touch via the form below!

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