Today, Dubai-based Tenderd, a marketplace that allows companies to supply and rent construction machinery, announced that it has raised a $5.8 million seed round. Investors in the round include Y Combinator, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Beco Capital and others.
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The company, founded by Arjun Mohan, launched a year ago. Mohan was introduced to the construction industry through his family business in the UAE after leaving his position with a startup in San Francisco.
“I noticed us renting out equipment to other contractors who didn’t have equipment or who had projects on hand,” explained Mohan. “We also noticed that when we had to rent equipment from other contractors we were usually using a broker who was doing it as a side hustle while working in another company.”
The process lacked transparency for renters, as it was primarily facilitated through the broker’s personal network of contractors and equipment rental companies. Additionally, those companies were spending significant amounts of money renting the equipment out themselves.
Mohan saw an opportunity.
Through Tenderd, contractors can rent equipment, which ranges from asphalt paver machines to laser scanners, from companies that have available, idle equipment. Mohan said that the company’s customers are usually focused on earthworks, including solar plants, roads, and other equipment-heavy projects.
Currently, the company operates only in the UAE, across all seven emirates. However, Mohan said that the company is aiming to expand to other nearby regions in the near future.
Aside from that rental service, the company has also developed an analytics dashboard which it says allows companies to “increase overall equipment productivity” and “track and regulate emissions to run equipment more sustainably.” Mohan said that the company supplies all of its clients with a live stream dashboard through which they can monitor equipment based on performance and how long the machinery is idle. This, he said, helps them make more informed, transparent decisions. And Mohan envisions more applications for this software in the future.
“The next step of this project ties into our larger vision of creating more and more intelligence in every aspect of project management, eventually enabling autonomous equipment… and retrofitting [of] old equipment with technologies that would enable them to be more intelligent,” he said.
Mohan says that the company is looking forward to hiring more individuals to scale rapidly and to double down on value-added services, including in its analytics software and dashboard.
Beyond the fact that the company is claiming that this is the largest seed round for a MENA-based startup, the news is interesting for a different reason. On the other side of the world, the construction industry has been heating up, as our Mary Ann Azevedo has chronicled.
According to her research, companies in the U.S. construction tech sector banked nearly $1.2 billion last year. That $1.2 billion was a 55 percent increase on funding totals for the year prior, and it does not include for two giant rounds for California-based Katerra and View, which accounted for an additional $1.96 billion.
And construction companies here are working on everything ranging from prefab homes to building tools that help stakeholders in the building process communicate more effectively and manage projects more efficiently.
It’s clear that from renting machinery to project management, the construction industry has been ripe for disruption for years. And giving that construction is a global industry, it’s likely that innovation like this will continue.
Illustration Credit: Li-Anne Dias