Saudi Arabia is poised to become one of the largest global construction hubs owing to its trillion-dollar infrastructure and the real estate projects that are underway in the country. Yet even as the sector in the country continues to expand exponentially, it remains entrenched in traditional practices, leading to project interruptions and increased costs, says Ibrahim Manna, founder and CEO of BRKZ, a construction-tech startup based in Riyadh.

The purchase of building materials in Saudi Arabia and the larger MENA region majorly involves physical visits to suppliers, price haggling and lack of guarantees on quality and delivery dates, some of the pain points that inspired him to launch BRKZ in 2022, Manna told TechCrunch.

BRKZ is today emerging from stealth backed by a $8 million Series A round co-led by Beco Capital and 9900 Capital. Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures, Knollwood Investment Advisory, RZM Investment and MISY Ventures also participated in the round. The new investment follows a $5.55 million seed round led by Better Tomorrow Ventures, with participation from Class 5 Global, Knollwood Investment Advisory, Plus VC and a number of Saudi angel investors.

Following the fresh capital injection, the B2B marketplace aims to expand in Saudi Arabia and the MENA region to facilitate contractors in procuring materials and manufacturers in selling, with a focus on same or next-day delivery. Additionally, the startup intends to venture into equipment rentals and manpower sourcing.

“We’re looking to invest in several key areas to grow our platform. Our main focus for the upcoming year is to expand our in-house tech capabilities, double down on financing solutions, and ensure we have solid operations and supplier coverage in every city in KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia],” said Manna, who prior to founding BRKZ was an executive at Careem, the ride-hailing company bought by Uber in 2019 for $3.1 billion.

“We’re also working on strengthening our vertical integration with suppliers to have more control over the supply chain… Expanding within the MENA region is a big part of our strategy too, as we’re getting ready to bring our services to more markets,” he said.

The startup does not support direct online purchasing, but instead requires buyers to generate and share Requests for Quotation (RFQs) through its app or WhatsApp, a process that Manna says takes 30 seconds to complete.

“This method allows for customization and negotiation in bulk orders, which is common in the construction industry due to the specific requirements and large quantities that can impact pricing. The RFQ system ensures that buyers get the most accurate and competitive prices based on their needs,” he said.

He added that the startup can process commonly ordered building materials within minutes, but more time is required for “specialized materials”. However, the turnaround time is still faster than the traditional sourcing from brick-and-mortar stores. He added that they are also working on an upfront tailored-pricing mechanism for their customers.

Since launch, BRKZ claims to have facilitated over $170 million quotations across nearly 1,200 products from more than 350 suppliers, numbers that are set to increase, especially as it establishes a presence across the Kingdom and MENA, a region that is currently experiencing considerable construction market size growth.

“What’s fulfilling about digitizing a traditional sector is the amount of impact you can witness in a short period of time. Our customers are saving a lot of time – what used to take days now takes minutes, from raising an RFQ and completing an order,” said Manna. “We’ve got folks in Riyadh managing projects miles away without needing to step foot outside their offices. It’s all about making things run smoother and faster.”

About the author

teobrito.com

Leave a Comment