Trying to bring forth a behavioural change in the way construction business operations are carried out is Bengaluru-based Powerplay. It provides a digital platform to manage workforce and material resources from the time of planning to finishing the construction at a site; basically the endeavour is to create an operating system that horizontally cuts across different construction functions.
“Before we started in 2020, we realised that WhatsApp was widely used among construction workers to communicate day-to-day activities and updates. Over time, WhatsApp chats could get cumbersome and workers could lose track of the important project data,” says Iesh Dixit, co-founder and CEO, Powerplay. The main driver for adoption of digital products by a largely unorganised workforce would be features that make them come back again and again, he adds.
According to him, communication is an hourly problem in a construction site. “We are essentially solving for that in native languages while organising data and adding more features,” says Dixit.
Launched right during the time of pandemic in 2020, the company has witnessed strong growth. As per Dixit, after Covid-19, the adoption of the platform increased to 50,000 users. By 2021, there were two lakh users and 30,000 businesses using the platform monthly. “The cumulative value of construction that was being carried out via our platform rose to $1 billion by the end of 2021,” says Dixit.
The platform lets workers and supervisors log their work data with multimedia proof and helps them plan their next phase of work in the site with advanced analytics. The startup follows a SaaS model with free downloads and charges users additionally for every premium feature they want to use. “Our primary focus right now are construction businesses which have turnover of about Rs 100 crore. We want to increase user engagement to over three hours on our platform on a daily basis from the current one and a half hours,” says Dixit.
The startup has raised close to $13 million in angel and venture capital investments and aims to become profitable by the end of 2023. With a new product for an industry that is predominantly not a great adopter of software, the company is also faced with a set of unique challenges. While the Covid-19 pandemic and social media channels have solved the problem of awareness of digitisation in the construction sector, finding out exact features that consumers will pay for in an industry where there is no benchmark yet is a major problem that Dixit is trying to solve internally.
Then, there is the young digital workforce who do not necessarily find the construction sector exciting to be part of. “We are solving these two by hiring digital native civil engineers who can learn and implement software solutions and are curious enough to go into the construction industry and find new use cases to solve for. It does not matter if they are from tier 1 or tier 2 colleges, We can not also be choosy of talent given the current talent climate in the market,” says Dixit.