Ingenious solution

Small talk
Proptech is taking on an increasingly crucial role when it comes to realising and managing real estate projects. And as a result, there is now a plethora of different and incompatible apps available to confuse every developer and project manager. Nick Carter of Ingenious.Build, however, thinks he can provide the solution

Could you maybe introduce your company to our readers? When and where was it founded and by whom? And what was the main inspiration for starting the firm?

Nick Carter, founder and CEO of Ingenious.Build: Our project (formerly IngeniousIO) is a cutting-edge management platform specifically designed for the real estate development and construction sectors. My background is in software, but I ended up owning a hardwood plywood mill, a concrete company and an architecture firm. I saw how extremely inefficiently this industry actually operates. Everyone always celebrates the successful completion of a development, but I noticed no one was really digging deeper into the costs and the risks involved. I rolled the IP I owned into an entity back in 2016, but I didn’t really start pushing forward with it until the end of 2018.

So in your words, what do you offer that’s different from your competitors?

Everyone talks about collaboration in this sector. I feel that this term tends to get over-used without any true thought behind it. We are the only platform in the industry that provides a solution for the fragmentation between all project participants during the project’s life-cycle, while also organising the data and providing insights based on the data that is accumulated. We also automatically protect your legal basis throughout a project. People are so used to downloading and storing documents just to keep a record or manually updating spreadsheets to come up with insights. All of that evaporates with Ingenious.

This integrated project management tool is for developers, contractors, architects, facility managers – or all of the above?

All of the above. It’s really cool as all industries will end up moving to a workspace-to-workspace communication method. Think of it this way: what would it be like if your accounting platform could talk to your client’s accounting platform, but only on trusted connections and on the basis of the acceptance of the data that is pushed to you? Well, we do that with all of the processes involved in construction and development. It’s definitely the next level. Most people need that explained a few times to let it really sink in. We also enable free invites to other project participants so they get invited to their own private workspace to collaborate more effectively.

Why is there such a need for an app like this? What problems does it solve?

There’s absolutely a need for it! There have been numerous studies by McKinsey and others that highlight the inefficiencies and the added costs they generate. McKinsey in their last study pointed out that USD 1.6 tln is wasted yearly due to lack of good software tools. I also like referencing a study on RFIs [requests for information – Ed.], which to me is one of the easiest processes in construction (unlike order changes, automatic budgets, etc). It stated that on average an RFI takes 9.7 days to get a response to, has an administrative cost of USD 1,080 per RFI, and 21.9 pct of the time they are never responded to. That last number makes it even worse, as that means people are proceeding without a clear direction. That leads to changing orders and additional risks. Take that and add some complexity to it and the numbers just get even worse. There’s not a single other platform in the industry that addresses this issue.

Is it also a cheaper solution than using a variety of incompatible tech?

We wanted it to be affordable for the entire sector to use. Some companies charge a percentage per project, which we think is absurd – especially when it only helps one of the project’s participants and not all of the companies involved in it.

Which markets are you looking at in particular for your product? Are Poland and the CEE region on your radar?

We are rolling out globally. We actually have a team and an office in Warsaw, but we also just hired our first employee in Australia a couple months back. We will be rolling out an aggressive push in the EMEA region starting at the end of Q1 of next year. Three out of the top five brokerage firms in the sector are all moving forward on to Ingenious.

Has the pandemic disrupted the launch of this platform – or given it a boost?

It has both helped and hurt. It helped in the actual sector we are focusing on, but it has made hiring more difficult for software developers. But my background started in Silicon Valley, so I like giving everyone stock options when they join our firm. That was a big thing for me, to have our entire Polish team in place – and actually, our entire global team has a share in the ownership. That starts a cycle. When Ingenious goes public or is acquired, it will generate wealth for everyone at the company, some of whom will end up eventually starting their own firms and thus the cycle starts again. I think Poland is a great place for this mechanism to kick in. It has great tech talent and exceptional people. I’m just hoping they invite me there to help them out so I can enjoy Poland more often – especially all the great food there!

Do you have a busy time ahead, or is the hard part (the launch of the platform) over and you can take a breather?

I’ve got a pretty busy time ahead of me, but I’m scaling the team as fast as possible to start offloading some of my direct efforts. I think it’s just different stages of growth. You start small like a family, then the next thing you know it’s a town, then a city, then a country, and finally it’s gone global. Each stage has its own level of difficulty. To say the least, it’s all about achieving the right balance.

Interview: Nathan North