Buildcon is a web and mobile app for construction project management. The product, that helps engineers and managers cut costs and meet deadlines on construction projects, has been created by a team of 4 founders from Serbia and now they’re in the middle of choosing between 500 Startups and Seedcamp, as they’re accepted on both worlds recognized investment/accelerator funds.
One of the latest aims from 500 startups, a well-known accelerator fund from the US that had previously accepted another startup from Serbia, TruckTruck, is to produce a more diverse class of companies that don’t focus just on Silicon Valley problems.
The latest statistics from Batch 16 show that about 27% of the founders are from outside of Silicon Valley and one-third of them are international. And while we are here, you can apply for the next batch here.
While TechCrunch has featured an article with the relevant accepted teams from Batch 16, we got in touch with one of the founders of Buildcon, Ilija Dragisic to talk more about their adventure and how they did manage to get accepted into both programs.
When did you come up with the idea and how did you start?
Ilija: The Idea came from Janko Stojanovic CEO of Buildcon, his personal working experience on construction was very valuable and insightful for our startup. Janko saw that people are used to tbe old fashion way of doing things for certain processes on construction projects and that they need improvement. Janko comes from a civil engineering family where both parents were working on big and important projects all over the world. Even his younger brother studies Civil Engineering.
We can say that Janko’s every day was pretty much all about construction since young ages. I went with Igor Milanovic and Janko Stojanovic in high school and we’re best friends ever since. The last 5 years I’m a business partner with Igor in our branding agency DIMIS, creating & improving brands and around a year ago we have talk how we can collaborate and how we can create something together. Our forth partner and CTO in Buildcon Djordje Filipovic, also the owner of 30 Hills development company came on board when we needed some technical skills to implement our idea.
What were the initial challenges and how did you manage to continue pushing forward?
Ilija: The Initial challenges were and still are to make the product market fit. If you don’t recognize this at the beginning you will have a lot of difficulties to market your product later. So we have tested our idea in the very early stage with potential users and repeated this process after wireframes phase and initial UX/UI design.
These conversations and feedback from them were of real value to us, it helped us to make better decisions and to create a better product. The second biggest challenge was the development team. Since Janko is a civil engineer, Igor a designer and me a marketing manager, we didn’t have an engineer to support us. As Djordje approached us on some startup event in Belgrade last year and that’s how we met each other, he liked the idea behind Buildcon and he saw the potential. Thus we were complete to start sailing.
What’s the product Buildcon and what problem does it solve?
Ilija: Buildcon is a web and mobile app for construction project management. It helps engineers and managers to cut costs and meet deadlines with full control over one or more construction projects.
Majority of construction projects have cost overrun and deadline breach so with better control and better project monitoring we believe that numbers could be reduced. Our app helps people on construction projects to schedule all project activities define responsibilities track recourse usage, take photos and write notes and share them with their team members. They can also make detailed and automated reports with ease for desired period of time and to print and share them.
How did you manage to join 500 Startups and Seedcamp?
Ilija: We have participated in Belgrade Venture Forum pitching event, there were 30 startups from Balkans region, among the crowd there was a mentor from 500 Startups, mister, Ed Speigel and he heard our pitch.
Luckily for us, he is a civil engineer and he understood at the glance of our pitch what we are doing, so we started the conversation with him and rest of the guys from 500 Startups and they were excited to have us in their batch 16.
Regarding SeedCamp we have applied for their program via f6s.com and we had a Skype interview where we have explained our idea. It was kind of a big help that 500 Startups already decided to back us up so their decision was really quick. Now we are in a position to have best of both accelerator programs, with 500 Startups we have access to USA market, investors and construction companies and on the other side with SeedCamp.
What’s next for Buildcon?
Ilija: Our idea is to be completely focused on product development in the next two years; we have our product roadmap and list of features that we want to implement, and we closely work with our customers and talk about their needs, every feedback is measured and analyzed so we can push our product in direction that is of real help for them.
In February we have enabled payment system and we started to charge for our product plans, we want to reach to as many construction companies and civil engineers as possible because the best confirmation whether you did a good or bad job comes from the market and real users.
What do you think are the challenges of launching a startup in our region? Even if you’re based in Belgrade or anywhere else in the Balkans you can still make it, right?
Ilija: Of course think that it really doesn’t matter where you come from if you have an idea, knowledge and you are persistent a lot of doors will open. Challenges are the same for any startup, funding, product market fit, team members etc.
Think that investments here are not a problem anymore because we have access to the internet to any relevant fund or accelerator and a lot of accelerators and investment funds are present in the Balkans. Personally, I would like to see more young people starting businesses and to learn more about business, that’s the biggest value that you can get from starting a company.
Knowledge is something that lasts and stays with you, money can be spent, companies can go bankrupt and close but the real value is knowledge. If we can introduce more people to business knowledge we’ll see more companies in our region.
This is something that accelerators do, startups that enter their programs are involved in extensive and intensive mentoring sessions about sales, finances, logistics, HR everything that has to do with the business that you starting.