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Built by Builders: Featuring Tom Deane of ProjectMark
Steve Dell’Orto • 25 Apr 2023

Built by Builders: Featuring Tom Deane of ProjectMark

Tune in to this Built by Builders episode with Tom Deane, Co-Founder and CEO of Project Mark. In this interview, Tom and Steve discuss the importance of the very front-end of preconstruction and how it impacts both ConCntric and ProjectMark. Tom has extensive experience in the construction industry, specifically in cost and risk management. He is driven by helping pursuit teams across the U.S. win work smarter through ProjectMark.

The Built by Builders interview series by ConCntric features conversations with entrepreneurs who have construction backgrounds and have started technology companies to address the pains they have experienced in their construction careers. ConCntric’s Founder & CEO, Steve Dell’Orto, chats with guests about the importance of technology in the construction industry and discusses the various solutions being developed.

Watch the full Built by Builders video featuring our Founder and CEO, Steve Dell’Orto and Co-founder and CEO of Project Mark, Tom Deane, here:

Steve Dell’Orto: Welcome to Built by Builders. This is a series we’ve created to highlight construction professionals that have gone on to start construction technology firms for the construction industry. It’s really unique to have solutions created by the very people that have experienced those pain points for their career, and to take on the leadership of going and solving those pain points for the industry at large. For today’s guest, we have another fellow builder, Tom Deane, who is the CEO and Co-founder of ProjectMark. Tom, thanks for joining us today. Why don’t you tell us how you came up with the idea for ProjectMark?

Tom Deane: I’ve been in the industry for about 10 years, primarily in the preconstruction space. It was a couple of years ago that we started to see the emergence of technology in this space. I think being in preconstruction, I remember seeing the construction productivity technology software, PlanGrid, for the first time and it completely opened my eyes. It was the first time I had a lightbulb moment and realized that the technology we needed was finally being built. It’s really evolving the way companies and our folks do work that massively enhances my own productivity. We’ve seen that emergence of technology and with us being in the industry for about 10 odd years, we started to look at the workflows that we were obsessed with. One thing that I was really passionate about was the opportunity space—It was building relationships with new developers and building relationships with partners in the industry. And how do we communicate our value proposition in a really clear way in the interview process, putting together the absolute best proposal to win that project? When we started to look at the infrastructure that was the foundation of what companies are utilizing today, we thought that was a really great opportunity to bring in a platform to help companies win work smarter. What we did was we built a proposal solution that pretty much completely streamlines the RFP process, being able to access content, project sheets, team resumes, and really enhance the collaboration between different partners around the pursuit. And now we’ve just launched our CRM module, which we’re so excited about, and we have a number of companies involved in that build. I know the challenges and the problems that happen in preconstruction, and given the preconstruction workflow and all the management that needs to happen to really get the project on track, is that where you’ve seen the massive opportunity and the gaping hole?

Steve Dell’Orto: Preconstruction, I think is probably the most complex, and in many cases, the most valuable stage in the project’s development lifecycle. I think for that reason nobody’s been able to really come in and address and solve the pain points in preconstruction. I think a lot of that, too, is the general understanding of preconstruction. I think it takes somebody like ourselves, who’s done it day in and day out for years, and has a lot of that experience to be able to take what is really an array of workflows and ecosystems of workflows, and pull it all together. Right now everything’s in such an analog state with ad hoc spreadsheets, etc, that you really have to digitize and build this from the bottom. Building this technology from the bottom is the only way you can get the data you need and the structure you need to get the best practices incorporated and pull it all together. Preconstruction, oftentimes, is misunderstood to be estimating—which couldn’t be further from the truth. I think in order to solve something in preconstruction, because all of the workflows are so interrelated, you have to solve it as a platform. Otherwise the solution is not going to be what the industry needs. They would have to stitch together a bunch of point solutions addressing each workflow individually. At ConCntric we’re hyper focused on preconstruction, and doing it as a holistic, comprehensive platform. Thinking about how we can ultimately serve the customers that we once were, who is ProjectMark’s ideal customer? Is it the marketing folks? Is it preconstruction oriented folks? Is it the executives?

Tom Deane: At ProjectMark, we’ve caught ourselves in the pre-preconstruction space. We happen just before somebody like ConCntric comes in and really owns that preconstruction process. Our buying personas are our Marketing Directors, our Marketing Managers, our Business Developers, our VP’s of Business Development, our Presidents and Associates, C Suites, and anybody that’s involved in the revenue growth of the business terms of our company. We are also targeting General Contractors and Specialty Subcontractors—our sweet spot is anywhere between kind of the 20 to 500, employee mark. We look for that mid-market firm, but we have some great plans to continue to go up the chain as well.

Steve Dell’Orto: I think the approach and what you guys are doing is brilliant because you are taking what everybody’s having to use—solutions that are not built for construction—and creating a new level of efficiency with a smart CRM platform built specifically for the construction industry. By limiting the number of people that can respond to these RFP’s, you are making it a lot easier for everybody to contribute and play a role in getting the work, which is the lifeblood of a construction company.

Tom Deane: Considering your experience with Clark, I’m sure you were at the forefront in terms of technology. How would you frame the industry in terms of their willingness to adopt technology today?

Steve Dell’Orto: As a Founder of a software company, as well as a venture partner with two different venture capital funds, I honestly think the industry gets a bit of a bad rap. Everybody says that the industry is a laggard and that the construction industry is slow to adopt—I don’t think that’s entirely true. I think builders by nature are very innovative. Builders use tools, and they use tools to get the work done faster, in the least expensive way possible. And I think a lot of that is probably failure on the technology part from the standpoint of people coming in from the outside and building a tool that they think is useful, but ultimately isn’t truly tailored to what the contractor needs, ultimately making them waste their time. I think it’s the responsibility of a technology company to actually pay close attention and really know what they’re building, learn from the customer and build something that the contractors can use, that’s going to save them time and save them resources. They will be very quick to adopt if it’s a tool that will achieve those goals and what they need. The great thing that we’re doing is trying to solve these problems, you and I and a bunch of others that have experienced that all firsthand. Given that technology is becoming the way of the world and most companies have adopt technology in one form or another, what’s your experience with construction companies’ willingness to adopt new technology?

Tom Deane: I just go back to your previous point there about the industry getting a bad rap. I totally agree with you. I think the industry is full of sophisticated, educated buyers who want to mitigate risk on their projects, and it is absolutely on us to make that as smooth of a transition as possible. I can’t agree more. It’s like, the laggard—but there are folks there that are willing to adapt technology. For firms—and we’re starting to see that more—there absolutely needs to be space made during the course of the year to think about the long term and think about, how do you mitigate risk on projects in the preconstruction process and in the construction process? It’s about asking: how can you do more with less in terms of streamlining your marketing, your BD, your C Suite workflows to be able to put yourselves on the best foot forward to go and win work? Again, I echo your comments, Steve, I think it’s on us to make that transition and to build a solution as attractive as possible. Being in the industry, we can see where the pain points are initially. But at the same time, space needs to be made to think about the long term. The more companies that do that, the more companies we will see that are extremely successful and at forefront of making change.

Follow ConCntric on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, to stay up to date on when the next interview will go live. To demo ConCntric’s platform, click here.

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