Bay Area Road Trip: PlanGrid’s Road to Success


Twenty years ago, launching a start-up to create intuitive mobile construction productivity software would have been impossible. The tools the industry needed didn’t yet exist. Raising almost $70 million in venture capital and expanding to over one million jobsites through 79 countries? That wouldn’t have been possible 10 years ago. Since its inception in 2012, however, PlanGrid has defied the odds and become one of the most successful and widely-used productivity suites in the industry.

Tomorrow on the Bay Area Road Trip, members of the BuiltWorlds crew will catch up with PlanGrid at their office in San Francisco. Ahead of that meet-up, we spoke with Tracy Young, co-founder and CEO of PlanGrid, to learn more about the company’s path through a maturing venture environment that’s beginning to embrace built world tech more heavily than ever before.

“If I wanted to start PlanGrid 20 years ago, I would have to raise tens of millions of dollars at least, maybe more, and buy some land, build a data center, run my own server farm,” detailed Young. “Because of the cloud, because of Amazon Web Services, a lot of companies like PlanGrid, start-ups specifically, can rent server space from Amazon to do very complex computing.”

The advent of accessible servers is only one piece of the puzzle that had to be completed for built world tech like PlanGrid to thrive, though. Young explained that the advent of many Apple products, specifically the first generation iPad, offered game-changing opportunities to harness mobile software. Finally, the continuing workforce shortage has contributed to companies’ desire to get jobs done more efficiently. That’s where implementing PlanGrid’s tech can help.

Demand drives supply, of course, meaning the trifecta of available technology, mobile capability, and the current workforce shortage have created buzz amongst the largest of venture capital firms looking for a piece of the pie. “I think in general when you get a firm like Sequoia putting money into an industry, all other VCs just follow,” Young observed. “Everyone wants a horse in the construction software race. There’s a ton of money being poured in, which I think is really good for the industry.”