Sitemate, a project management startup focused on the construction industry, has closed a $1.3 million funding round to fuel its next phase of growth, just a month after it rebranded.
Previously named Construction Cloud, the startup was launched out of the University of Sydney’s UTS Startups program in 2015, by civil engineer Hartley Pike and co-founder Sam McDonnell.
It also graduated the Startmate Accelerator program in 2017, before re-branding to Sitemate just last month.
The platform is intended to provide shared workflow documents for industrial projects, including financial documents, commercial record-keeping and environmental and safety workflows.
Having worked in the construction space, Pike tells StartupSmart the industry tends to work off of paper documents, excel spreadsheets and the odd standalone app to manage a specific aspect of the project.
The lack of a central platform is a problem “every day, for every project, every company”, he says.
Pike doesn’t disclose Sitemate’s current user-base or growth figures, but he does say that when the startup was participating in Startmate it only had customers in Australia. Now it has users in 30 countries, he says.
The team has plans to build their marketing and sales teams, as well as investing in product and engineering staff.
As the user base is starting to grow, “infrastructure demands on the back-end system are starting to increase”, Pike says.
What’s in a name?
Although the startup has its roots in the construction industry, “the problem we’re solving is so much broader than just construction”, Pike says.
Rebranding from Construction Cloud to Sitemate was part of a plan to make this clear to customers, and tapping into new sectors grappling with “almost identical” problems.
The Sitemate concept is also applicable to building, energy, utilities, mining, oil and gas industries, Pike says.
“Having constriction in the name was causing some friction with people not sure if it would be relevant to them,” he explains.
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“We wanted to make something that was more general, but also applies to the industrial focus that we have,” he adds.
The industrial sector gets a bad rap for being “behind the times” and unwilling to embrace new technologies, Pike says, but “we’ve seen quite the opposite”.
Instead of asking why people aren’t adopting new technologies, people should be asking “why aren’t they, and what are the products available that they’re not using,” he adds.
For the most part, end users and management teams are “hungry for these types of tech,” Pike says.
“They’ve seen the benefits they’re going to get in an industry that has such high levels of risk.”
A friend in Startmate
Pike’s biggest piece of advice for startup founders is to go through an accelerator program. Being accepted into Startmate was “a big turning point for the company”, he says.
“The calibre of the people that are involved … just really hits home where the bar is,” he adds.
Being able to work with people who have been in the same position, and are now a few years ahead can be invaluable in terms of both advice and inspiration.
“What they have done is achievable for you — they’ve solved similar problems recently,” Pike says.
Accelerators offer the opportunity to be surrounded by people who have got over the issues you might be facing, and who are “moving on to the next phase of the business”, he says.
“They have that experience and are willing to help,” he adds.
Finally, Pike says having those peers and mentors around him helped in the transition from working in the construction industry to running a tech company, something he says has been “a bit of a change”.
The Startmate experience “really helped me adjust and really move into the execution stage that we’re in”, he says.