By David Kim, Co-founder & CEO, Harbr
Harbr is a smarter payments platform for construction. We work with owners, owners-reps, self-performers, GC’s, and sub-trades. Our core technology connects data gathered through SMS to not only streamline approvals workflows but help grow businesses through friendlier liquidity options. We are focused on creating huge opportunities in prompt-payment workflows.
I think that many external forces are causing the industry to change and adapt at a pace not seen before. Capital spending is continuing to grow and with efficiencies in technology finally hitting the mainstream it kind of feels like a perfect storm brewing for massive disruption – in the good type of way. For instance, something closer to home like adhering to the federal prompt – payment act would be an increasingly difficult mandate to prescribe to without the help of technology to streamline workflows and provide the crucial line- of-sight required to ensure prompt-payments are not over-payments. Harbr looks at this problem and recognizes a massive win-win opportunity for owners and sub-trades.
It’s funny, we look around and see fantastic technological achievements and innovations, like bendable smartphones for example, but more often than not these inventions end up looking more like a solution seeking a problem. Widely successful innovations, however, typically appear, on the cover, as tried and true, well-adopted technologies like SMS but under the covers bleeding-edge innovations powering them. For example our use of AI techniques in Natural Language Processing to convert SMS messages into meaningful operational data.
Our biggest challenge was in gathering reliable and frequent data/updates from the field. We’re guilting of trying to push “another app” into the field, but we quickly pivoted and realized the best way to overcome this barrier to entry was to already be in the pockets of those on the job site – SMS has come default on every phone since 1992. It doesn’t rely on cellular data, and if there’s no cell service it automatically reconnects and sends the message when it comes back online.
Our benchmarks of success are productivity efficiency and capital efficiency; our primary KPI is the percentage of efficiency gain from a task, phase, project, and portfolio perspective.
The advantage we have building Harbr is that our team comes from the technology startup ecosystem and the commercial development and construction ecosystem. We understand how venture capital works as well as traditional financing models, and importantly how financing works in real estate development. With the advice and guidance of our angel investors who in their own right are expert financiers, we have been extremely fortunate to develop a blend of financing that allows all eyes, ears, and brains to focus on the success of our customers.