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.
ConCntric transforms the fractured preconstruction environment by unifying processes and providing a dynamic view of the project. Acting as a single source of truth, ConCntric’s platform unites data, workflows and people, thus ensuring a certainty of outcome.
What led you to Construction Tech?
My journey into Construction Tech was inspired by a deep-rooted connection to the construction industry. Coming from a family of handymen, I was exposed to carpentry and construction work from an early age, fostering a passion for building and creating. In high school, I further delved into the field through my lacrosse coach’s millwork company, interacting with various subcontractors, and gaining valuable insights into the industry’s inner workings.
Having spent an impressive 26 years immersed in the construction industry, I’ve become intricately acquainted with the intricacies of delivering preconstruction projects. This profound experience uniquely positions me to spearhead a digital transformation within the industry. Notably, I held the esteemed role of Executive Officer within one of the largest privately-owned domestic general contractors in the U.S., overseeing an impressive annual revenue range of $5-6 billion.
During my tenure as Executive Officer, I orchestrated a significant expansion in my former company’s Western Region, encompassing both the Northern California and Pacific Northwest divisions. Through a steadfast commitment to selective work acquisition and the implementation of a comprehensive preconstruction process, I successfully achieved an extraordinary 10-fold growth and an impressive margin increase exceeding 40%.
My leadership has made an indelible impact on the industry, with notable projects bearing my mark. Under my guidance, visionary endeavors including the Golden State Warriors Arena and Development, Salesforce Tower, Facebook’s San Francisco Park Tower, Seattle Convention Center Expansion, Manchester Grand Hyatt, LA County Museum of Art Expansion, and the LA Live Development came to fruition. These achievements underscore my unwavering dedication to driving innovative construction practices and transformative outcomes.
What was the mission of ConCntric when you created it? And what is unique about your business VS competitors?
My goal is to empower construction professionals with tools that offer data visibility, predict project outcomes, and facilitate informed decision-making. Through ConCntric, I am determined to bridge the gap between construction expertise and technology, enabling smarter, more efficient practices and transforming the way projects are executed in the construction and real estate industry.
What is unique about ConCntric?
ConCntric’s uniqueness lies in its approach to tackling the challenges faced by the construction industry. What sets us apart is the fact that we are not just another tech company trying to solve problems in construction; we are creating a solution based on the firsthand experience that I have gained working in the industry for 26 years. Our platform is built from the ground up by an exceptional team with extensive experience and expertise in the ConTech industry as well as other industries that have advanced significantly in the incorporation of technology. We have taken the hard lessons learned and the ideas generated from our collective experiences to create a platform that truly caters to the needs of contractors, developers, and architects.
One key advantage we have is that we are not outsiders coming in with a blank canvas, trying to understand the industry’s intricacies. Instead, we are intimately familiar with the world of construction, having lived and breathed it for years. This enables us to offer a solution that is like a beautifully painted canvas, ready to be refined and embellished to match each client’s unique requirements. We don’t just provide a generic tech solution; we offer a tailored, world-class platform that aligns precisely with how owners and design professionals work and consume information.
Our collaborative approach sets us apart even further. We don’t expect our clients to become tech experts or burden themselves with building custom solutions.
As a builder-led company, we engage in an ongoing exchange of ideas and feedback with our customers and partners. Their insights and needs, combined with our internal designs and visions, fuel the development of our platform. This approach ensures that ConCntric remains finely attuned to the real-life needs of construction professionals, making it a powerful and unparalleled tool in the industry.
In essence, ConCntric’s uniqueness lies in the seamless fusion of construction expertise and advanced technology. We are not just a software company; we are the perfect partner for builders, providing them with the voice and influence to shape the software to work precisely for their needs. The result is a revolutionary platform that addresses the pain points and frictions of the construction industry, built with precision, speed, and a deep understanding of the field. Our commitment to solving real problems and empowering construction professionals makes ConCntric truly one of a kind.
How do you plan to address the potential resistance or skepticism from construction industry professionals who may be reluctant to adopt new technology or those with varying levels of technological experience? Can you provide strategies for gaining their trust and buy-in & explain how you ensure that your technology remains user friendly and accessible?
Addressing potential resistance or skepticism from construction industry professionals is a crucial aspect of our approach at ConCntric. We acknowledge that there are varying levels of technological experience and a widespread reluctance to adopt new technology, especially in the preconstruction space. This sector has been underserved in terms of technological advancements for years. While we’ve seen progress in 3D design and estimating software, the planning aspect of projects, which involves numerous workflows, remains largely reliant on ad hoc spreadsheets and makeshift solutions.
Our goal is to address these challenges by providing a comprehensive and user-friendly platform that streamlines the planning process from all angles. We understand the difficulties faced by professionals in planning complex projects, and our platform seeks to plug and play all these different forms together, enabling better decision-making from the start.
Recognizing that Rome wasn’t built in a day, we are committed to continuous improvement and development. Drawing from my extensive background as an executive in a top 10 general contractor, I’ve witnessed the common thread of a lack of data in project management. Our platform aims to harness the wealth of available project data and use it to improve the accuracy and efficiency of future endeavors
Effective communication and data sharing are vital for building trust and transparency among stakeholders—the owner, design team, and builder. We aim to bridge the communication gap by providing a platform that facilitates contextual sharing of information, ensuring that each stakeholder can access and digest the data according to their specific needs.
One of the key challenges we address is the seamless flow of project-oriented data to inform decision-making for all stakeholders involved. We envision a future where the majority of project data is readily accessible and shared among team members, fostering collaboration and informed choices.
Ultimately, ConCntric’s uniqueness lies in our dedication to providing an all-encompassing platform that not only addresses the industry’s underserved needs but also ensures that the technology remains accessible and easy to use for professionals with varying levels of technological experience. Through continuous development and close collaboration with our clients, we strive to transform the planning process, enabling more efficient and successful construction projects.
What will be the biggest trend in the ConTech space in 2024? What will be the biggest challenge?
Biggest Trend: AI — we’re building a foundation at ConCntric that will ultimately enable AI solutions to evaluate cost and design scenarios, dynamic search functions and other decision-making processes all to provide output to the user instantly.
Biggest Challenge: AI will be good for the industry but challenges include:
1) Creating the wrong impression that AI replaces jobs in construction—the industry is hurting for the talent needed and I don’t believe job replacement will ever be a real threat, in fact, I think it will enable us to do more as individuals with less effort.
2) People having the expectation that AI will provide immediate, accurate results is the wrong perspective. AI depends on available data and information and there is a lot of unstructured data (like spreadsheets, pdfs) that are not properly stored or characterizrd in a place accessible for the future.
Until we across the industry have way more data available, then AI’s accuracy will be significantly limited.
Growth plans for ConCntric: 1 year, 3 years, 5 years (i.e: geographies, products, verticals, headcount, funding)
1 year: In the next one year, we plan to close our Series A funding. This will ensure that our platform will increase at least double in size in terms of the number of modules and features.
3 years: Our 3 year plans will be to break into international markets and expand the ongoing domestic business. We will also continue to add new modules to enhance the platform for our customers.
5 years: We anticipate that when we reflect upon our journey, it will be evident that we’ve made substantial positive changes in the realm of preconstruction and the wider industry. And while we celebrate these achievements, we will also recognize that there’s still a multitude of accomplishments awaiting us on the horizon.
Tell us about your approach to talent acquisition and culture? Has it changed since you founded the company? If so, how?
Since day one, our approach has remained constant. We aim to foster a “family culture” and seek exceptional talent from all corners of the world. Our commitment to excellence hasn’t wavered.
While our core philosophy stays unchanged, our methods have evolved. We now actively consider individuals from diverse industries. This not only brings fresh perspectives but also specialized expertise, propelling our industry forward.
In essence, our values persist, but our approach has adapted. We still prioritize a close-knit community and global talent acquisition. Yet, our openness to cross-industry talent has enriched our strategy.
How do you approach innovation within your organization? What strategies or processes do you have in place to foster a culture of continuous improvement and creativity?
Innovation starts from within and I believe that innovation starts with the people that we bring into the ConCntric family. Our foundation lies in individuals who embrace challenges and novel ideas with an unwavering “why not” or “let’s bring it to life!” attitude.
Significant effort is dedicated to actively listening and learning from our customers. This ensures our solutions effectively address genuine pain points in a pragmatic manner.
As someone who worked as an executive for a top General Contractor for over 26 years, it was a big leap of faith to decide to start a tech company.
Peak Moments: As an entrepreneur, an immense sense of fulfillment washes over me when a customer’s excitement serves as validation for the elegance of our design and the instinctive functionality of our platform. We often emphasize that “simple is hard,” yet it’s the very principle we relentlessly pursue.
Moreover, witnessing the collective enthusiasm of our team during every interaction, particularly at our onsite engagements, brings me an unparalleled high. The gratification of having a closely-knit team that collaborates harmoniously and accomplishes substantial missions is truly remarkable. The ambiance of productivity and positivity creates an uplifting and exhilarating environment that is unmatched.
Challenges: Entrepreneurship invariably entails encountering a regular stream of rejections, even in the midst of having esteemed customers who not only recognize our value but actively champion our cause. These moments serve as poignant reminders to persevere and acknowledge that not everyone will become a fervent supporter yet.
In your experience, how highly do you value VC funding and support for a start-up to be successful?
Venture capitalists (VCs) hold a pivotal role within the startup ecosystem, providing essential support and resources.
In the current scenario, we find ourselves presented with a pressing opportunity that demands rapid scaling. The industry’s urgent requirement for a platform akin to ConCntric, one that could have had transformative effects twenty years ago (as the adage goes, best time to plant a tree was 20 year ago, second best was yesterday and third best is today), is now more evident than ever. The imperative for such innovation necessitates a business model that can facilitate swift market penetration at a substantial scale, and venture capital serves as the linchpin for achieving this.
Personally, I am privileged to have the role of a venture partner within two VC funds. This vantage point allows me to intimately understand the tangible value that VCs bring to the table. Simultaneously, I’m acutely aware of the risks they undertake by placing bets on ventures like ours. This dual perspective underscores the symbiotic relationship between startups and venture capitalists and highlights their collaborative efforts in shaping the entrepreneurial landscape.
What is your superpower? And favorite song…?
My superpower lies in the ability to deeply comprehend and master the intricacies of preconstruction processes. This is a field that demands significant time and dedication to truly grasp. What sets me apart is the rare decision to transition from an established career path to embark on a journey from scratch. Few individuals possess the courage and determination to make such a leap.
Furthermore, I possess a unique aptitude for systematic thinking, enabling me to seamlessly assemble vast quantities of components and concepts. This is coupled with a discerning aesthetic eye that accurately predicts what will be both functional and visually appealing. This fusion of skills allows me to contribute in a distinctive way, bringing coherence and elegance to what we’re building at ConCntric.
Favorite song: ”Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison is my favorite
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