3-D should stay 3-D, said Chris Callen, CEO of GRIT Virtual.
And with the rise of virtual reality and augmented reality technology, that philosophy can be applied to the construction of 3-D buildings, Callen said.
Wichita-based GRIT Virtual is a software-as-a-service platform for large contractors. It uses VR software to streamline the workflow for construction projects, increasing efficiency and decreasing time, Callen said.
“VR isn’t our value proposition,” he said. “We sell VR as a means to a greater end, which is the algorithm, the workflow and everything that comes out of our system.”
The firm – which is a member of Techstars KC’s 2017 cohort – allows stakeholders to input project data into the technology to determine the building strategy. Once the “what” is determined, the software’s algorithm then breaks down into a tactical “how,” Callen said.
“Rather than having a human driver assign daily tasks on a calendar, we plug users into a 3-D environment and allow them to add their own, unique subject matter expertise to the model,” he said. “They assign simple information, such as duration and dependency, and then later let the algorithms connect those inputs together to identify workflows that human planners cannot.”
VR tech is the future of construction, he said. If every contractor used GRIT Virtual, projects would have reduced workflow waste, Callen said.
“Our technology shortens construction timelines significantly,” he said. “We believe there is a huge potential for more work to occur on job sites. If you drive by construction sites, you see that most of the project is not being touched at any given point in time.”
That’s because the traditional means of project planning isn’t working, he said.
“Most planning done today is a very manual process, like spreadsheets, Post-it Notes or looking at blueprints, Callen said. “And most construction SaaS firms are just a digital version of a manual process. At GRIT, we’re no longer looking at 2-D bar charts to represent workflow. We’re looking at the pieces themselves.”
GRIT Virtual originally began in 2016 as a product of the family company Builders Plus Construction, which Called has been spearheading for more than three years. GRIT Virtual spun off into its own company in May.
Techstars has been a great opportunity for Callen to gain “startup skills,” he said.
“Learning about the world of startups and investments has been a big educational part for us,” he said. “Coming from a family business that was very revenue focused. (Through Techstars) we’ve clarified our story and identified target clients that are innovative and forward-thinking and want to be a part of something like this.”
GRIT Virtual is currently talking with regional contractors who might be interested in deploying its technology for market research and proof-of-concept purposes, prior to the firm’s beta launch in March 2018.
“We’d like to have 15 clients by March,” Callen said. “We want to be able to go out there and use an existing project as a control case so that we can quantify exactly what percent quicker projects completed with our technology is. We believe that this is technology that will be duplicated and we will have competitors, so it’s about gaining relationships with clients and gaining data from our pilots.”
Techstars – and Kansas City – has already opened several doors for Callen, he said.
“We’ve been received with open arms,” he said. “Wichita is not too far, so Kansas City has a similar culture and mindset. But, the energy here has been very exciting. After a long week of work, it’s been nice to be able to re-energize yourself by going to a Kansas City startup event and feel the energy come back to you.”