Communication is difficult in any workplace, but the co-founders behind Prokeep recognized that it was a particular problem for those working in construction.
Jack Carrere, McKay Johnson, and Mark Kanof noticed this when they started working more with contractors for various home improvement projects. Ultimately, the team saw a need to help distributors manage how they work and communicate with all their contractors.
Prokeep touts itself as ‘mission control’ for distributors, with messaging at the core of its platform. Contractors can can text, send pictures, or send orders to a distributor and that information is integrated into a more organized system for the distributor’s inside sales funnel.
In a sign that the tool they built was necessary, 11 out of the 12 customers they acquired with their early free version immediately stayed on when they put up a paywall in early 2018. (Though Carrere said that the 12th company converted into a happy paying customer as well).
Prokeep is used by over 1,000 distributors and the team has grown to over 60 employees.
Business grew over the course of the pandemic as contractors and distributors had to rely even more heavily on remote forms of communication. “We became a very important avenue for our customers to maintain business continuity, so they could fields orders and maintain those relationships with their customers. And then also an important tool for moving to curbside pickup,” Carrere added.
The team bootstrapped for the first few years but recently took on their first round of institutional funding.
The $9 million seed round was led by Ironspring Ventures, an Austin-based firm focused on industrial innovation. S3 Ventures, Benson Capital Partners, and other individual investors like Scott Wolfe Jr (Levelset founder and CEO), Lawrence Hester (former co-founder and CEO of FareHarbor), and Hugh Evans (T Rowe Price Head of PE/VC Portfolio).
“I like to say we’re funded by our customers to get to this point, and we’ll continue to rely on them to help us grow. Because at the end of the day, that makes us who we are. We rely on them for feedback. They help us innovate. They help us come up with the next big thing,” Carrere told Hypepotamus. “But capital is an enabler that will help us reach more prospects and help us build more into the product so we can help our customers be better for their customers.”
The current uncertain economic climate has led many startups to be more conservative about capital raises and growth projections moving forward. But Carrere said it is a unique moment to be building technology that enables the construction industry since the country is still dealing with an extreme housing shortage. The Southeast and Southwest regions of the US are particularly hard-hit by the current housing shortage, according to Realtor.com.
Alongside a sizeable remote workforce, Prokeep’s team has offices and teams in both New Orleans and Atlanta. New Orleans, where the startup’s headquarters is located, has made a name for itself in the construction technology space recently. Levelset, a FinTech solution for the construction space, was acquired by Procore in October 2021 for $500 million. Carrere added that such success stories validates the city’s growing technology ecosystem where support and collaboration are a strength.