The construction industry, India’s second-largest employer, has around 49 million people. As with other sectors, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed players in the construction ecosystem to adopt digital tools, especially solutions that optimise workflows.
Investments in construction tech startups in India, in fact, hit record-high levels in 2021. The segment received total funding of $104.2 million (as of June 15, 2021), the highest in the last seven years, according to data from Tracxn.
Riding on this growth is Bengaluru-based construction management startup Powerplay. Founded in 2020 by IIT Roorkee graduates Iesh Dixit and Shubham Goyal, the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform helps construction stakeholders collaborate and manage teams working on projects.
Powerplay’s freemium app simplifies communication between construction sites and central office teams. The app enables specialty contractors, general contractors, and builders to manage site work, material, and labour via a single platform.
“Powerplay has used state-of-the-art technology to build scalable, optimised applications across Android, iOS, and web platforms. Synchronised and real-time communication are core to its products. We have a highly experimental and user-first approach towards product building. The applications are optimised to work on low-end devices with poor internet connectivity. Currently, the app is available in 12 or more regional languages,” Iesh, Co-Founder and CEO, Powerplay tells YourStory.
Powerplay has registered a growth of 40X (January 2020- January 2021) in active business, the co-founder claims.
When asked about the startup’s subscription plans, the co-founder says that it provides “premium modules on our web app (desktop version). This includes project management, financial management and procurement management services, which are apt for the office teams.”
According to Iesh, Powerplay has the first-mover advantage in the construction management space as no other app currently helps teams manage their workflows.
“The adoption is just like how teams adopt Slack, and then the whole company starts using it,” he says.
Internationally, companies like Procore and Assignar are servicing the top of the pyramid, i.e., the enterprises within the construction space, but there still remains a void when it comes to the SMB contractors, Iesh adds.
Iesh heads Powerplay’s corporate team while Co-Founder and CTO Shubham is responsible for the technical wing.
Both Iesh and Shubham completed their bachelors from IIT Roorkee, where they became friends and worked on multiple ideas together. They have built multiple products ranging from AR Maps, AR Mindmap to subscription management before landing on Powerplay.
Iesh has previously founded three startups and has also worked as key account manager at Jumbotail, while Shubham has worked with technology giant Samsung as a senior software engineer.
Constructing a powerhouse
Powerplay claims to have a pan-India reach and plans to expand overseas by the end of 2022.
SMB (small to medium business) contractors who use Powerplay work for companies like L&T, Tata Projects, Godrej, HADPL, Buildcon, GMR, NSPL, Hindland Infrastructure, etc.
“The platform has an all-embracing reach, covering all states in India, including NCR, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Jammu, Manipur, and even the union territory of Andaman. The penetration rate has been healthy in all states, with Maharashtra leading the pack with 16 percent, followed by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka at 9 percent, Gujarat at 8 percent, NCR and Telangana at 7 percent, and Madhya Pradesh at 6 percent,” says Iesh.
“In 2021, Powerplay managed 1 percent of total construction activity of India worth Rs 7000 crore. Materials worth Rs 1100 crore were managed on Powerplay in 2021. More than 250,000 labour per day were managed on the platform last year,” he adds.
Powerplay is currently in the pre-revenue stage and plans to monetise in 2022 through subscriptions.
On the funding front, Powerplay has previously secured funding of $5.8 million from Accel Partners, Sequoia Surge, and India Quotient.
“In the early days, no institutional investor believed Powerplay would work. But, we saw the customers were happy with the product and kept on building. We raised a small angel cheque of Rs 30 lakh from our first customer. Using that money, we were able to scale our product into the market. After seven months, we started seeing interest from the most prominent investors in India,” Iesh says.
The goal for 2022 includes reaching the milestone number of 1 million construction businesses, adding more features and service modules to its app, and expanding globally as a SaaS platform.