Builders enjoy building. Where their job becomes less fun is procuring the materials necessary to execute a job. Heartland stakeholder Leland Vogel from General Contractor (GC) Lehman Daman told us “in some cases the person buying our supplies is a subcontractor dealing with a distributor, then that distributor goes to a manufacturer’s rep who, of course, isn’t the one responsible for producing and transporting the underlying material, as ultimately that’s the manufacturer.” So, your standard material may easily go through four sets of hands before it’s on site, with each adding cost and risks of delays or mistakes.
Heartland’s construction and building materials stakeholders all feel the pain of this byzantine procurement process. Aside from producing incorrect, defective or not enough materials on site, the process slows GCs and sub contractors from completing and submitting successful bids, resulting in missed business every year. And it hurts those that sell and distribute the material being procured. “It’s incredibly frustrating to be waiting on a sub for their portion of a bid, knowing that a deadline will be missed, all because they’re waiting on parties that at the end of the day would also benefit from winning a bid” says Vogel.
Forest Flager, Michael Kushner and Pratyush Havelia knew there had to be a better way forward. That’s why they founded Parspec. The solution enables all stakeholders in the construction supply chain to optimize the buying and selling of materials. It does so by applying computer vision to parse data from designers’ specs, triggering an AI-informed web crawler of OEM tear sheets to identify the best matches, providing strategic recommendations and competitive options to the reps and distributors, and allowing for easy document mark-ups. Ultimately, this will reduce bid preparation time by 75%, cutting the cost of acquisition and, more importantly, increasing the amount of bids that can be processed by the same staff to generate more sales with even better service. Importantly, everything starts with Parspec’s first product, a submittal engine that optimizes the bid process for manufacturers’ reps and distributors, beginning in the lighting industry.
The Founders are the perfect team for the job. Forest envisioned the product after spending three and a half years with construction tech startup Katerra and experience working on the design side of several major stadium projects. Michael has been in lighting practically his entire life, including more than a decade leading a vertically integrated design and distribution business. And Pratyush, Parspec’s CTO, understands construction users from his time at construction tech behemoth Autodesk. His academic and development chops (Stanford) complement Forest’s impressive academic background (MIT Masters and Stanford PhD) and collectively, the trio’s industry experience shows in the user friendliness of their first product, now used by several major lighting reps and distributors.
Those existing customers all agree Parspec is a “game changer” in allowing them to put out more and higher quality bids, so they can better focus on business development and customer service. Soon, the product will also incorporate collaboration features to enable GCs to better value engineer bids. Existing processes in this space, for both buyers and sellers of construction supplies, are antiquated. Thus, the potential for improvement is high. For example, Parspec will eventually provide market demand data.
Heartland Ventures has already facilitated introductions to multiple high value Parspec customers throughout its network and we will continue to do so. In this way, our Fund will again execute upon its strategy of providing Heartland stakeholders with early access to innovative solutions and enabling a portfolio company to work with aligned early adopters who are interested in providing critical feedback for continued optimization.
We are thrilled to work with Parspec’s talented team and their exceptional lead investor, Innovation Endeavours, with whom we have worked on Third Wave, in improving the building materials supply chain.