April 19, 2024
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At a time when many startups are struggling to raise funding or are raising but at lower valuations, it’s notable when companies raise at flat or higher valuations. Especially when their last raise took place in 2021 — a time when capital was much easier to come by and valuations were climbing at crazy rates.

Briq, which has built a platform designed to allow all departments of a construction company to automate financial workflows such as accounts payable and payroll, has raised $8 million in an extension round at a $150 million valuation. The startup last announced a fundraise in June of 2021 — a $30 million Series B financing led by Tiger Global Management.

The company opted to “wait out the market” and raise a smaller dollar amount with less dilution at a flat valuation rather than go out and try to raise a Series C, said CEO and co-founder Bassem Hamdy in an interview with TechCrunch.

Tiger Global doubled down on its investment in Briq by contributing to the extension. Blackhorn and Eniac co-led the round. MetaProp, whose managing partner Aaron Block is set to join Briq’s board, also invested. Multi-billion-dollar German firm Nemetschek also became a backer.

With over nearly 400 customers, Briz says it saw ARR (annual recurring revenue) growth of about 40% in 2023 compared to 2022. The company has also been executing a cost-reduction strategy, which has led to a 45% decrease in employees to 138 by the end of 2023 compared to 2022.

Customers include Choate Construction, Catamount Constructors, Fessler & Bowman, and Elder Construction, among others.

“Briq essentially sits on top of other solutions to run them better,” Hamdy said. “It’s like a playbook”

Bots automating business processes

Founded in 2018 by former Procore exec Hamdy and Wall Street veteran Ron Goldshmidt, Briq claims to have incorporated artificial intelligence (AI) into its offerings before AI was a mainstream term.

Briq has built an offering that uses a group of proprietary technologies, the flagship of which are its use of generative automation bots. The startup says it has a library of over 200 bots that have been trained “how to perform the actions and tasks that are otherwise done by humans in these financial workflows specific to the construction space,” according to Hamdy.

Briq deploys that across two products: Briq AutoPilot and Briq CoPilot. The Briq AutoPilot product uses bots to automate what Briq claims is up to 80% of those business processes “that are highly deterministic and predictable in nature, such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, and payroll processing.”

“These bots have learned how to read documents, apply logic to their contents, and take actions based on those rules,” said Hamdy. “Just think of it as Tesla’s autopilot for your accounting group. There’s definitely a labor crunch in construction so instead of throwing bodies at these departments, you can use our software.”

The other product where Briq deploys the tech is in Briq CoPilot. That product automates the creation and administration of financial forecasting processes such as job cost forecasting, revenue recognition and revenue forecasting. It also introduces end-user coaching and risk detection to help contractors and project managers avoid cost overruns, missed change orders, and other financial risks that are introduced in the course of a job, Hamdy said.

The end result, Briq claims, is that companies are able to reduce overhead costs and increase their profit margins. To date, Briq says it has automated over a million tasks in the construction industry.

Hamdy views Briq’s competitors to be companies such as UiPath and Automation Anywhere.

Expansion into new geographies

MetaProp’s Block believes that what Briq is doing is unique in the construction industry.

“Usually when we think about robots in construction, we think about machines on a jobsite. But Briq has turned that on its head and introduced to construction the idea that robots can be used in the back office to manage cost, process payroll, run forecasts, and perform all sorts of other mundane but super important tasks,” he said in a statement. “The construction community is on fire for this. They can scale an army of digital robots in their business to identify where profit is fading? And they’re on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Yes please!”

While Briq is focused on serving the general and specialty contracting market in North America, it does have plans to expand into new geographies in the coming years.

“I think what we’re really really excited about aren’t just the English language markets. I actually don’t think those are great construction markets,” Hamdy said. “I’m very interested in the Middle East and Asia and parts of the non-English emerging markets in Europe. That’s really where we’re moving forward strongly on.”

Looking ahead, Hamdy is excited about the possibility of using conversational AI to instruct financial transactions.

“That’s coming in 2024,” he said.

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