Meet Rhumbix: Building Technology for the Blue Collar Workforce

Posted by Zachary Scheel, Rhumbix CEO on 11/15/15 10:05 AM
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My co-founder, Drew DeWalt and I first met at Stanford Business School two years ago — and while that’s a founding story that could likely be said for many companies here in Silicon Valley, to us, that’s where the similarities to our startup story start and end.

What brought Drew and I together at Stanford was our shared experience of serving in the U.S. Navy. I myself served for five years as a Civil Engineer Corps Officer, including as the Resident Officer in Charge of Construction and Assistant Public Works Officer at Naval Station Everett, WA, and Military Construction Manager at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. My co-founder, Drew, served for six years as a Nuclear Submarine Officer on the USS CHEYENNE and taught Naval Science at his alma mater, University of Notre Dame. In addition to our military service, we’ve both worked on heavy civil infrastructure projects for major construction and development firms, such as Bechtel and Valhalla Energia.

While the construction industry is currently the second largest in the world, representing a $10.5T market and one that will grow 70% to a $17.85T market by 2025, the reason that Drew and I chose to tackle it isn’t just because of the immense market opportunities: but because it’s a journey that’s incredibly personal to both of us.

After Stanford, Drew and I reconnected over beers one night in Santiago, Chile. We had both finished work on a major construction project and noticed a huge need in the market for mobile-first solutions designed specifically for the blue-collar craftsmen. The vast majority of construction project management software is desktop-based and built for use by the project managers and engineers that comprise, on average, only 5% of total project headcount. The remaining 95% of workers are left filling out paper forms or using a shared job-site computer to complete their daily reports at the end of each shift.

These workers are basically management’s eyes and ears on the ground; reporting back on the progress of multi-million and billion dollar projects. You can imagine that having to remember which crew member did what, after working an incredibly arduous and long day, isn’t easy. These men and women are hard, smart workers but they are simply not given the tools they need to succeed. We sought to change that with Rhumbix.

Rhumbix is a dead simple mobile app coupled with sophisticated back-end technology. Operated by smartphones carried by construction workers, our mobile platform passively collects data and combines it with contextual labels inputted by its users. It then applies machine learning to this data to understand signals and patterns, deploying insights in real-time that save money, optimize performance and create safer job sites — as well as helping to make future predictions based on historical findings such as hours spent on a certain task or project.

Rhumbix not only helps workers to be more efficient and safe on the job, but because of the ubiquity of pen and paper reporting, up until now, real time insights into the status and health of a project is something that no one in the construction industry has had immediate access to before.

After operating Rhumbix for a year in private Beta where we built, tested and iterated it with customers including construction organizations like ANVIL BUILDERS and major building trade labor unions like the Training Center for the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workersand Santa Clara & San Benito Counties Building & Construction Trades Council, we’re thrilled to be opening up our mobile platform and core products — mobile timekeeping and real-time cost-coding — to even more contractors. Simply sign-up on our website to join our Beta program.

We are also grateful to our investors including Jerry Chen of Greylock Partners who led our Series A, as well as Darren Bechtel of Brick & Mortar Ventures, Eric Chen of UJ Ventures and Raymond Levitt, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, who participated in both our Series A and seed-round financings. They have given us the support we needed as we’ve developed our core technology, quickly grown our mighty team (PS: we’re hiring), and share our conviction that the construction industry is one that can and will benefit greatly from vertically-focused, mobile technology innovations.

We’re at the very beginning of a new adventure and we can’t wait to see how more contractors and partners use Rhumbix!

Topics: Construction Technology

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