Living in Belgium didn’t stop Caroline Basecqz from competing in the San Diego Startup Week Idea Competition powered by Ideator this year. And Caroline went on to win the French Startup-Weekend in September! So what business idea is she working on that is so revolutionary it’s winning competitions?

SmartBeam: helping General Contractors learn from their experience.

The problem SmartBeam is tackling?

Currently within the $8 trillion construction industry, 66% of typical projects finish over budget wasting millions of dollars due to inaccurate budget estimates. Those inaccuracies are in 80 % of cases, due to a lack of information and organization rather than a problem of competence and expertise. Estimators can’t rely only on their experience to build an estimate. The price of the construction (materials, equipment, labour) fluctuates depending on the market and are also affected by various factors (project size, time consideration, constraints). These inconsistencies require estimators n to constantly update a price database which is a time consuming and complicated process. It requires a solid communication to the jobsite which is made difficult by their disconnected nature. (SmartBeam Ideator profile)

So how can estimators better connect the field to the office?

“It starts with building a feedback loop.” Caroline explained, “SmartBeam is a software that facilitates the feedback loop between pre-construction and the jobsite, aiming at rapid adjustment and learning. The SmartBeam Budgeting Tool automatically aligns your contracts and change orders with your budget, and makes it easy to review financial performance for a single project, or across many projects. A price library is automatically updated based on projects trade costs and performance rates. It provides estimators a range of up-to-date contextualized prices required to build an accurate budget estimate.”

SmartBeam helps General Contractors to minimize financial risks by centralizing information and connecting resources.

So how did Caroline ideate SmartBeam?

It first makes sense to introduce her background. Caroline is a Belgian Civil Engineer passionate about construction and technology. While working a couple years on construction sites as a Project Engineer she realized there was a better way to financially manage construction projects.

“I decided to drop my hardhat and work on innovative solutions to solve a pain that everyone around me was complaining about: General Contractors don’t have enough time and the correct resources to properly estimate budgets. Due to this lack of resources and time 40% of projects end up over budget and wasting millions of dollars. My team and I saw an opportunity and conceived SmartBeam, an online platform that helps General Contractors better and faster estimate their budgets. The platform tracks and centralises financial project data and uses it to generate an accurate price database.”

So why is SmartBeam unique?

“Unlike most project management softwares SmartBeam capitalises on past project information in order to build more relevant budget estimates.

Another thing that frustrated me when I was working in construction, is that most of construction softwares are very “user-unfriendly”.” Caroline recalls, “Facing those kind of budget spreadsheets all day long would give me serious headaches. I decided to build an intuitive and user-friendly software because I believe even construction engineers deserve a great design.”

Caroline’s goal is to make construction a less chaotic world and find creative solutions to significant problems. She has lived in six different countries. While she was living in Silicon Valley, she became inspired by the atmosphere of creativity.

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What’s been the hardest challenge thus far?

“Getting the right team together has been a real challenge. After having a co-founder dropping the project I decided to test more deeply the motivation and the qualification of my next co-founder. Startup-weekend was a good way for me to judge the collaboration, which ended up positively.”

Ideator helped Caroline clarify her idea and structure her presentation for the average population, which might not know the ins and outs of the construction industry. Caroline has benefited from the Ideator platform because the field inputs require each idea, no matter the industry, to boil the idea down to a very concrete, simple problem- solution. She also uses the Ideator sharing link often to share her idea’s concept to introduce the idea to people.

Keep SmartBeam on your radar. If you’re passionate about this problem and reducing the chaos in the construction industry, don’t hesitate to reach out to Caroline through Ideator. She’s looking for a web developer and partners in the construction industry. Also check out the cool pics of the startup weekend posted on SmartBeam Facebook page:!

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