Agora and the future of construction: announcing our $7M Series A
Construction is a $10T/year industry that employs over 200 million people worldwide. Despite this, the sector’s annual productivity growth has remained flat since 1945.
The cost of commercial real estate drives the price of goods and services in cities and, for many people, housing represents their biggest expense. Living in San Francisco, we were painfully aware of the consequences of a built environment that is expensive and slow to build. In a place brimming with technological innovation, surely we could do better?
We all live our lives on a stage composed of subways, apartments, bridges, offices, houses, schools, and hospitals. It’s absolutely critical that access to them is affordable, equitable, and sustainable. This is why we started Agora - to bring the build environment into the 21st century by making it more efficient and faster to build.
This ambition is vast and won’t be achieved overnight. Our approach has been to find the largest and most broken part of the industry and to start by building technology that would propel it forward.
We realized that the materials supply chain is responsible for 40% of the cost to build, representing more than $250B of spend in the US every year. Yet, to our surprise, materials management is too often run on pen and paper and ineffective legacy software. The outdated processes contractors have to rely on, often created long before the advent of smartphones, slow them down and inflate costs. This problem is especially prevalent in electrical construction, the largest of the trades at $100B in size in the US annually, and a great starting point for our technology.
Over the last 2 years, we set out to solve this problem by building a materials management platform that streamlines the materials supply chain for commercial trade contractors. Agora connects field foremen, purchasing teams, and vendors on one platform and gives them the tools they need to collaborate effortlessly.
Foremen use our field app to submit requisitions in under 30 seconds, track order status in real time, and flag delivery errors instantaneously. This allows them to reduce the time they spend on materials handling by up to 40%. We also help purchasing teams easily collaborate with their vendors and process purchase orders 10x faster than they do today.
The response from the industry couldn’t have been better since the need for Agora is now perhaps greater than ever. Since March alone, we’ve grown the number of users on our platform by more than 20x and tripled our booked revenue as the need for contractors to save costs has become increasingly urgent in the face of the pandemic. We’re now processing $50M in annualized order volume and our platform is being relied on to build a wide variety of public and private projects.
Today, we’re thrilled to announce our $7M Series A, which brings our total funds raised to date to $11M. The round was led by 8VC, with participation from Tishman Speyer, Suffolk Construction, Kevin Hartz, Abstract Ventures, and BoxGroup. These funds will allow us to expand the platform, better serve contractors, and enable them to more easily collaborate with their distributors.
Most importantly, I’m incredibly proud of the brilliant team that we’ve built. Bringing construction into the 21st century is an audacious goal, and I feel truly privileged to be able to take on this challenge alongside such extraordinarily talented, determined, and creative people.
It’s only the beginning of our journey to help improve one of the world’s largest industries, and I couldn’t be more grateful for all of the support we’ve got along the way. To our investors, advisors, customers, partners, and friends – thank you. On behalf of Agora, we’re more excited than ever to bring our vision to life.