Elements of the construction industry may be unashamedly old-school, but a Danish firm, GenieBelt, co-founded by Klaus Nyengaard, one of the founders of food delivery Unicorn Just Eat (which began life in Denmark) is showing that it is far from immune to a dose of tech disruption.
GenieBelt announced this week that it has raised a new round of funding from another Danish company, Solar Group, and Nyengaard himself.
Solar Group is a “leading European sourcing and services company”, specialising in the heating, plumbing, and ventilation technology sectors. The company generated DKK 10.6bn (about £1.2bn) of revenues in 2015, and employs more than 3,000 people. It is listed on the Danish Nasdaq.
Between them, Solar and Nyengaard have injected €2m of fresh capital into GenieBelt, a project management and communication platform to the global construction industry, which operates in the Danish, British, Polish and Canadian markets, where it has offices.
GenieBelt’s tech-inspired operational and project planning platforms is tailored specifically for the construction industry, helping to improve “the way projects coordinate, collaborate and communicate by opening up and simplifying the vast information flow of modern projects”, say its founders.
According to GenieBelt’s research, delays, re-work and waiting time constitutes more than 70% of paid time during the completion of a construction project, as well as 15% of project costs – in other words, too much time is spent hanging around waiting for somebody to make a decision and communicate it effectively – something anyone who has spent time around construction projects will doubtless be familiar with.
Geniebelt say they can reduce this by 50%, simply by controlling processes better and disseminating information more quickly and effectively, using the latest technology.
The company has grown to 25 employees since it first launched in 2013, led by Ulrik Branner, CEO, Nikolaj Bernsten, CTO, and Brit Gari Nickson, CCO, who describes himself as a “tech geek at heart, who loves to sell”. Klaus Nyengaard, who lists his favourite tool as a “chisel”, on the company website, is Chairman, and doubtless plans to drive similar growth to that which he achieved at JustEat, where he helped grow the company from 40 to 1,000 employees.
Hugo Dorph, CCO at Solar, said that “we recognized a vision that is closely aligned with Solar’s, and we have also met the team who are capable of carrying out this vision”, adding “it is imperative for Solar to support solutions that our customer’s experience as intuitive, easy-to-use and most of all – relevant in making their jobs faster”.
Nyengaard believes that the “Con-Tech” sector has become “hot” over the last couple of years, and believes that Europe is finally beginning to follow the US’ lead; “from what I know”, he commented, “this is the largest single European investment in next-gen mobile and user friendly solutions to the global construction industry – and that is something to be proud of!”
CEO Branner added “Even though Solar won’t step in and change GenieBelt’s structure, priorities or strategy, this investment is a unique match of industry experience meeting cutting edge technology.”
GenieBelt provides live programme management and project overview software tools for project managers, instant reporting, and “fast and effective” collaboration for subcontractors – and can be used with a smartphone. Documents can be shared easily between project stakeholders and automated drawing controls specifically designed for the construction industry are also available.
The projects are hosted using cloud technology and 24/7 support is also provided.
The company had previously raised 2 angel rounds of $500k, in Nov 2013, and $700k in Feb 2015.
Denmark’s capital is home to one of the fastest growing start-up communities in Europe, thanks to a dedicated and passionate community of entrepreneurs, notably Nyengaard, and Peter Muhlmann, founder of Trustpilot, who have raised more than $130m of funding in a city where, according to local founders, “everybody knows everybody”, and thanks to agencies like Copenhagen for the Win, which is funded by entrepreneurs and start-ups and acts as a kind of PR agency for Danish tech start-ups.