The Aussie construction tech startup Mastt is on a mission to digitise a traditionally spreadsheet-based industry. They’re looking well beyond our traditional definitions of disruption.
Its cloud-based capital works portfolio management system gives consultants and project owners the real-time insights they need to better manage and deliver projects faster and with less risk – improving collaboration and avoiding costly surprises and delays.
Mastt co-founder and CEO Doug Vincent is killing spreadsheets with a smile. With a storied experience in construction, he knows firsthand some of the challenges that his former colleagues face, and how to tackle them.
In this interview, Doug shares a few secrets of the founding team’s success, and how they plan to take their business to the next level.
You launched Mastt with a solid background in the construction and project management world. How has your perspective on the sector evolved since you began?
When I worked in construction and PM, it was very focussed on certain sectors and projects. I didn’t have a full picture as to where my project data went upstream into the hands of key decision makers. At Mastt, we’ve been able to really take a step back and look at the sector as a whole from top to bottom.
This has brought us new perspectives on how we’ve been able to unlock data that was trapped in thousands of spreadsheets to drive even greater transparency, visibility and decision making from the suppliers and subcontractors, all the way up to the highest levels of government. It’s very important that we push on and bring these efficiencies to the world’s largest industry – construction.
Our investment team noted the strong collaborative nature your founding team exhibits. What advice do you have for founders on building an important foundation?
I’d met my co-founders Jamie Cerexhe and Raman Nambiar when it was just myself and an idea. I was just looking around for someone to point me in the right direction on building software. Although I understood the problem and lived the pain, I had no idea on how to start a business or build technology products.
Raman and Jamie brought these skills into Mastt and the three of us work amazingly together across CEO, COO and CTO roles. It’s important that other founders recognise their weaknesses and plug these gaps with like minded people. Building a business is a team sport!
Your ‘Spreadsheets Kill’ mantra strikes a chord with project managers of all types. How has this thinking driven your product roadmap?
In the construction industry, there are many spreadsheets to kill! At Mastt, we are focused on the key areas that trap a Portfolio manager’s data. This is across risks, cost and time which we can unblock at the project level to provide key decision makers with predictive and real-time analytics to inform decision making at the top.
I mean, how would you feel if the bank kept a record of your savings account on a spreadsheet? That’s seriously what is happening in the construction industry with cost and risk data!
Spending on infrastructure is a hot topic around the world for post-COVID. How is Mastt looking at this opportunity?
Governments are spending their way out of the global pandemic, announcing large infrastructure packages globally. Recently, we’ve seen Saudi Arabia announcing a totally awesome $11 trillion in capital and infrastructure spending. Being a cloud based SaaS product allows us to penetrate these markets from Australia. We’re already in trials in the UAE and are having conversations across the US, UK and NZ.
It doesn’t matter if these countries are building schools, naval wharves or solar farms – Mastt can service any project.
Sometimes the first hurdle is the most challenging. What advice do you have for SaaS businesses looking to secure their earliest customers?
Get ready to grovel, and eat glass. Be prepared to do whatever it takes.
Mastt earned a coveted spot in the 2020-21 NSW Going Global program. What are you learning as you gear up to take the company overseas?
The NSW Going Global program has provided us with access to valuable local knowledge in key markets and introductions to early customers. We’re finding that the problem we solve here in Australia truly is global, as these large capital and infrastructure owners try to make sense and handle their sometimes hundreds of projects.
Certainly one of the earliest lessons is how well Australia competes as the “Silicon Valley of Construction Tech”. Some of the world’s best solutions are being born here like ourselves, Matrak and others. We can’t just throw bodies at construction problems – we must innovate here to get things done efficiently.
You’ve got a number of open roles on the team right now. What’s next for Mastt?
We’re over $10 billion in projects in our system at the moment – so I guess the next hurdle is $20 billion 😉? We’re also announcing this year new skews on our product to bring further value to our customers. Keep an eye out for new modules launching mid year that kill more spreadsheets!
Find more from Doug and the Mastt team on their blog.