At the time he took office in 2013, Patrick Murphy was the youngest member in the United States Congress. Now, this politician-turned-entrepreneur is looking to bring some youthful exuberance to the notoriously old-school construction industry.
Murphy is the founder of Togal.AI, a company that is an ode both to his Irish roots and his family background in the construction industry. Borrowing from the Gaelic word for building, togalai, the Miami-based AI software startup is making the construction estimating process easier.
Murphy grew up around his family construction business in South Florida before entering politics in 2012 by running for and winning Florida’s 18th congressional seat. He served two terms in Congress, where he spent a lot of time thinking about the future of work, artificial intelligence, and what it would take to prepare for the “next industrial revolution.”
When he rejoined his family construction business in 2017, he said he was “quickly reminded how antiquated the industry” really was. As he told Hypepotamus, it was also an industry that was incredibly capital inefficient.
That inefficiency was particularly felt in the pre-construction process.
“We had engineers and very educated people spending 50% of their time coloring on a set of plans” to measure out items during the estimating process. “It’s a manual process…but it’s an image that a computer can read and learn just like a human would,” Murphy explained.
Togal.AI’s platform software can estimate a project in a matter of minutes, as opposed to the days it traditionally takes. The startup works with contractors and subcontractors and is working on building out partnerships with enterprise construction companies.
Togal.AI launched its beta earlier this year and now has over 75 customers in the construction space.
Murphy said the startup has raised $5 million in funding over two separate rounds at a $30 million valuation, with plans to raise a third round in the near future. He’ll be pitching Togal.AI on the Venture Atlanta stage next month.
OVERALL CONSTRUCTION TECH SCENE
Joining Togal.AI at Venture Atlanta is an impressive list of other construction, real estate, and property-focused startups, including FlowPath, Leasecake, Smart Alto, and RentCheck.
It is about time for the construction industry to embrace technology, said Murphy.
“It’s a big industry with a lot of sort of money flowing through it. But the margins are very tight. There’s very little reward for innovation,” he explained to Hypepotamus. “I think construction and development in many ways is one of those industries that’s been somewhat misunderstood…but that seems to be changing now.”
Cities across the Southeast are part of the transformation of the construction-tech industry. Some of the bigger deals in the space this year included the acquisition of New Orleans-based Levelset (acquired by construction giant Procore), North Carolina’s Prescient $190 million round, North Carolina-based Higharc’s $21 million Series A, and Chattanooga’s Branch Technologies $11 million funding round.
“I think it’s going to be one of the really cool areas of watch over the next five to 10 years, as technology really starts to disrupt construction,” Murphy added.