Fireside Q&A: Procore’s Kristopher Lengieza


My name is Kristopher Lengieza and I am the business development manager for Procore Marketplace

Can you explain your title a little bit?

The team that I work on, we handle all of the technical partnership and strategic partnerships for anyone who wants to integrate and use our API or have their product built on top of Procore using an API as our platform. And that allows us to add value to our customers by eliminating double entry and expediting processes on the job site. It is really allowing them to integrate us more deeply into their business problems.

Procore is obviously a really well known and respected company throughout the AEC field. With that being said, I really love for you in your own word to describe for our readers what you all do?

Procore is a fully developed construction management solution. We realize that literally everyone in the world is touched by construction every single day. Our goal is to build a platform that allows construction to operate more efficiently and really change the lives of all those people that work in construction. It's a difficult business, it's a very grueling business at times. And we want to make things just a little bit easier on them so that we can go more building all of the things that come along with the built environment. We can do that by allowing them an efficient piece of software.

Can you chart Procore's progress since it began and evolution since then?

Procore really started when Tooey, our founder and CEO was building a house for himself. He realized that the contractor on the job was having a really difficult time communicating with him, communicating with the sub-contractors, getting a schedule in front of them, and getting them to get the job done. This was all highlighted by the fact that he kept receiving, at that time, a cordless phone bill because the superintendent would get so frustrated, he'd literally throw the cordless phone in the pool and you didn't have to go buy a new one because it's short it out. So he talked to the contractor and asked: "what's the problem?" The contractor said "I just can't everybody on the same page. We all have different drawings and we all have different schedules and nobody's really like working together."

Tooey, having a background in technology and software though, I could help solve that. He spun up a small little piece of software that allowed users to collaborate and communicate around the schedule and gave them all the other information that was necessary on the project. At the end of the project, things got better, and the contractor came back and asked to use it on all his projects. And then Tooey started to realize maybe he was on to something. He went on to grow that and develop it further. Around the time of the recession in 2008 and 2009, things were pretty bleak. A lot of the contractors were going out of business. The first thing they cut with software. But Procore stuck it out and came out of the recession when technology was pretty heavily evolving. Things like the iPhone and the iPad came out and played a big impact on the construction industry and allowed people to really embrace this truly cloud-based construction solution. So Procore started to gain a lot of customers at that point. It's been growing pretty rapidly over the last three, four years, signing ENR Top 50 customers. We have about 200 for the top ENR 400 right now as our customers and are really are the most widely used construction solution today.

One thing I'm really interested in personally as a writer is looking at companies' core values. With that in mind, what are Procore's core values?

Our core values are referred to as the Three O's here: openness, optimism, and ownership. Really, we want to have a completely open platform and an `open company for that matter. And we really do embody every bit of that. What's interesting about that is the information is shared internally and a lot of times externally with our customers. We want them to be right there along with us as we make decisions, and that's one of the biggest reasons that we have done so many innovation labs and bring customers on campus all the time. We want them to see the roadmap, we want them to be part of developing that roadmap, and we are pretty open about all the things that we're going to do and how we're going to get there.

On the optimization side, obviously, the company making it through the downturn, we always had to be optimistic about what is possible. We looked at it much bigger than just simply developing a piece of software, but can we actually change the construction landscape and change the world by doing that. Everyone who works here embodies that. Everyone here has a sense of ownership of a portion or a piece of this company and the efforts that they're putting in to really develop the company moving forward, and how we can really change those lives out here. That's been a message that's been set by the executives and really pushed down throughout the organization. It is very well communicated and very well adopted internally.

For the past few months, I've been running a lot about construction technology solutions and what they are doing to help companies. How is Procore different from than the Autodesks, Oracles, and Trimbles of the world?

From my perspective, one differentiator is really how open we are as a platform. I am working on a team that develops partnerships with other technology solutions and that really involves our competitors. We want to integrate with everyone, and we want to make sure that if you choose me as our solution, you can use it right alongside all the other choices that you have. And for that reason, we engage our customers a lot. At our annual conference in Austin last year, we had over 3,000 construction professionals that came through what we call innovation labs. We got them in touch with actual product managers and engineers to see the roadmap in the future and provide input on that roadmap. The opportunity that companies get to provide that level of input with those other folks is very, very small. If you're not a named account or an extremely large enterprise, good luck getting even a chance to step foot on campus.

We really engage our customers across the board. I think another big differentiator for us is just how we're really trying to change the industry from a social aspect. The efforts that our Women in Construction group put forward and the efforts that our group is pushing forward by working with the trade unions and universities are great examples. We can educate both how construction could and how to utilize tools to be more efficient so that the job site is safer and more productive. And we do that at no cost. We're basically providing those services as a free software to Habitat for Humanity, universities for no cost, so that they can learn how to use the tool.

Why, now in 2019, are construction technology tools like Procore so vital on job sites.

The industry has been in an unproductive place for so long. We are now faced with a place where we're not as productive as we used to be, we don't have the workers on the job site because we can't get people to come into the industry. Not to mention the fact that the projects are becoming more complex and faster. That means safety risks and extreme pressure. So, the need to have solutions to embrace technology and solve those problems on the job site is driven by that. It's driven that we don't have the people, we don't have the expertise, and we still need to be able to build faster and better than we ever have before. The only way we're going to get there is to follow what other industries have done and embrace technology and catch back up. That's why now today we are a year or two into a technology revolution in construction. It's because people have no other choice. There aren't other options for them to solve the problem, so they have to choose technology. And we've seen success out of it. We've seen companies adopt the technology. We've seen the case studies where they are being more successful, they're winning more work, they're making more profits when they utilize a solution that makes their business more efficient.

One of the problems that we've seen in the industry is that different organizations or different players use different solutions. Where does Procore stand when it comes to integrating with competing software?

Great question. I mentioned it earlier. We want to integrate with everybody. I truly believe one of the reasons I'm here is because we will not solve the industry's problem until we can share data across organizations freely. And that would mean we will need to be able to do it efficiently. And we'll be able to need to cross-share information across products. Our API is completely open so users can go in and use our API whether they're a customer, collaborator, or competitor and want to build an integration into our solution. We've been actively trying to work with the industry and our competitors to try and solve that problem with groups like the Construction Progress Coalition. I believe we will get there. But, other people are going to have to come to the table. We laid our cards on the table. Now we're waiting for others to share information and get joint customers to work together. It's what we need for the industry to move forward. And we honestly believe that it's the best thing for the industry and it will play out well for us as well.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I get to talk to so many technology partners, so many people every week. It's amazing. The solutions that people are coming up with to solve problems that I, personally, had a job site five to seven years ago is amazing to me. Just being able to see how the landscape has changed into really workflow solutions that can solve those problems for my fellow construction people is awesome. I get noticeably excited sometimes when the partners come in and we start whiteboarding out workflows, to the point where my coworkers sometimes make fun of me. It's so fun to me because I've lived the pain. I know how difficult it can be and the thought that I could help workflow or to architect this solution integration that could solve some of that pain is very exciting. That's probably my favorite part of the job.

What do you think the next 5 to 10 years at Procore looks like? What are the company's goals as you move forward?

We're working with more and more customer types every day, and we're moving well past just GCs. We have lots of opportunities that are working with lots of owners and subcontractors. We believe that the subcontractor market has been heavily under-serviced for a very long time. And we believe that we have a really great tool for them. So, we're designing specific tools for them. We're designing specific things that will make them more efficient. And then the other thing we're doing is we're making it so that we can not only collaborate amongst our competitors out there, but our users can collaborate more efficiently between their accounts and their solution. That's an active initiative for us because Tooey talked about it last year at Groundbreak. But everyone still owns their piece at the end of the day.

Those will be a big portion of the next five years or so. I would tell you if we're also rapidly expanding internationally with our offices in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and more countries coming soon. We will become a global player, and we will work with the entire construction ecosystem. We expect to be able to be utilized and work with other stakeholders in the construction industry such as insurance providers, suppliers, material handlers, and everyone up and down the supply chain or construction. And that's how we're going to make a massive difference in the industry.