The Silicon Review
The construction industry is perhaps the only industry that has not seen a great proliferation of technology. But it is an industry where technology is making inroads. One of the companies making this change happen in construction is PlanHub, a Florida-based company. The PlanHub team consists of innovators who constantly brainstorm new ways to connect all the sectors of the commercial construction community.
Founded by Kevin Priddy and Kyle Conlan, the PlanHub platform is connecting and supporting contractors and subcontractors across the nation.
We recently interviewed them to know how their innovations are changing the construction landscape. Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q. What motivated you to establish a platform dedicated to construction, bidding and management?
Kevin: We started the business about 11 years ago. At that time, we were more of a lead service for subcontractors. By around 2015, Kyle and I started seeing a different trend in the industry. It was that general contractors were using all kinds of different platforms, software and tools to share their project files with their subcontractors and suppliers. That got us thinking-how could we do this better? So, we decided to create a free platform, PlanHub.
We built the software and allowed general contractors to use PlanHub for free. With PlanHub, they can post their projects to all their subcontractors and suppliers. They can also utilize the network of subcontractors that exist within the PlanHub system to get more bids on their projects faster.
Q. Can you tell us about the milestones that have defined the success of PlanHub?
Kyle: One of the biggest things we have been watching is our user acquisition goals. One of the first milestones we achieved was when the number of users on our platform exceeded 30,000 within the first three months of inception. Within six months, we were past 50,000. And in twelve months, we surpassed 100,000 users. As of today, we’re at about 300,000 contractors who use PlanHub every day as part of their lives.
We also look at project analytics, like bids submitted. They are the actual construction bids that are submitted on projects within PlanHub. This last month, we had over 100,000 bids that were submitted through our platform.
Q. How does PlanHub help the pre-construction process?
Kevin: PlanHub is the central marketplace where all commercial construction begins. It is a software for general contractors to use. It helps contractors to get the best coverage on all the projects to get subcontractor and supplier bids. They can also track the activity. They can see exactly see who looks for the project, who downloads it, and can reach out directly to them if they like as well.
On the subcontractors’ and suppliers’ side, these users are being given access to hundreds of thousands of projects that they may not have even known about.
One of the other items that we pride ourselves on is that we work really hard to get every general contractor, that’s bidding on a project, listed on the project, as well. When a subcontractor downloads the files and puts his or her bid together, that bid is going to be able to go to all the general contractors considering that project. This increases their chances of getting awarded that construction project.
There are a few other interesting features in our system currently, where we have a direct messaging feature that allows subcontractors and general contractors communicate. We have an RFI tool where they can request more information on projects, as well. We also have some really cool product tools that are in development right now.
Q. With so much of information in your app, how secure is your software?
Kevin: Most of our information is available for free. It’s very easy to get online with our platform, but as far as user information is concerned, that information is highly encrypted. It would be very difficult for someone to tap into someone else’s user profile.
Q. Would you say transparency is one of the things that PlanHub takes seriously?
Kevin: That’s one of the things that we really pride ourselves on. As far as how our system works and the costs associated with it - we’re completely transparent. All of our pricing and features, is viewable from the front end of our website.
Most of our competitors make you go through a two or three step process. A competitor may make you request a demo and then talk to a rep. You may have no clue what things will cost until you speak to a bunch of different people and they put a high-pressure, high pressure sales process on you. We don’t do that. All of our pricing’s listed online, you can register on our system, onboard yourself, watch a training video, and then upgrade all on your own if you want. There’s a lot of transparency in our system.
Q. What would you like to say about risk management in this industry? How do you help your clients in this regard?
Kyle: We keep them busy. We give them all the tools, resources and project opportunities so that they stay busy. Most of the subcontractors and general contractors realize that to maintain a stable project board, they need to increase the number of bids each month.
Without PlanHub, these users may not have a whole lot of project opportunities in their area. Whenever times are tough, like they are right now for a lot of construction professionals, they may see a lot of projects that are being delayed. We’re seeing an influx of bids and traffic from those companies that are going from bidding 10+ jobs a month to 30 jobs a month to try to replace all those delayed projects with more active projects. Hence, PlanHub, from a user standpoint, helps them stay away from risky situations and keep their employees moving and the workers on the job site.
Q. How is the current pandemic affecting your business?
Kevin: In the construction industry, we felt a drop in the new projects initially that are now coming online. In April, we saw about a 12% drop in new projects. That bounced back up a little bit in May. Then by June, we were at higher levels than we were in March. We took a little bit of a hit, but then the projects have just come roaring back. It hasn’t really affected the construction industry to a very high degree.
Kyle: Honestly, this business has never been better. Contractors are looking for work more than they ever have in the past four or five years. Our traffic has doubled, the amount of bids being submitted have doubled, which is all good for PlanHub.
The pandemic slowed down a certain percentage of the contractors out there, based on what type of projects they were used to performing. Now, they have more time to spend on a computer in their office on PlanHub looking for more projects. It’s been great for us.
Q. What do you think will be the next big thing in the construction space? And do you think PlanHub will be a part of it?
Kevin: I think the biggest trend in construction is the adaptation to technology. Construction is probably the one industry that’s lagging behind all other industries in technology adoption. A lot of these construction companies are still old school where they do a lot of stuff on paper and with a pencil. That’s changing; newer generations are being involved in construction companies. They’re used to working on a cell phone, tablet or laptop. The younger generations are leveraging software like never before. That’s part of their technology process, be it pre-construction software like PlanHub, or even tools like Autodesk. I think there’s going to be a lot more adoption of technology.
Q. What are your future plans for your company?
Kyle: PlanHub is focused on providing more and more solutions for subcontractors, suppliers and general contractors. We’ve already been successful in the occupying management software part of pre-construction, which is the flywheel of the construction process. It’s typically the first place a contractor goes whenever a project goes out for bidding. A lot of our big vision, big idea goals are centered around expanding on that and creating more and more solutions. Since we’ve already got these users on our website, 10-12 hours a day, we’re going to deliver more and more solutions that help them be more successful in commercial construction bidding.
Kevin Priddy, CEO and Founder: Kevin is a brilliant entrepreneur, speaker and an avid sports enthusiast. A thorough team player, he is responsible for strategy and direction of PlanHub. Prior to PlanHub, he was the owner and President of Priddy Concrete Construction, LLC. The company specialized in decorative concrete. Kevin earned his MBA in Finance and Financial Management Services from Florida Atlantic University.
Kyle Conlan, CSO and Co-Founder: At PlanHub, Kyle is Chief Strategy Officer and responsible for collaborating and working with other leadership team members to ensure the vision of the company comes to fruition. Prior to PlanHub, he was a Senior Account Executive at American Fidelity Assurance. He has also worked with AT&T Advertising Solutions at the capacity of an Outside Sales Representative. Kyle has a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from Georgia Southern University.