Mooven, the Auckland supplier of a software platform that helps minimise traffic disruption during construction projects, is eyeing the US market after closing a $5 million Series A round.
We've all grown to hate road cones, diversions, delays and other hassles that come with roadworks, a new office tower or a seawall patchup.
Mooven chief executive Micah Gabriels says the bad news is that more disruption is on the way as governments around the world pore Covid stimulus money into "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects
His company's software project pulls data from Google Maps and other sources, then wraps it up in an easily digestible form for clients such as councils, police and major construction companies, and helps them turn it into action plans to divert traffic to the right areas and carry out work at times that will cause minimum disruption and the least possible environmental impact.
Clients get real-time information about traffic flows without having to instal their own roadside hardware.
Gabriels says the funding comes off the back of a strong year for the business, with revenue doubling over the preceding 12 months.
Besides ongoing projects throughout New South Wales, Victoria and New Zealand, Mooven has picked up 17 major projects in Queensland since last August — alone worth upwards of $3 billion in construction value.
Mooven also counts more than half of the region's top 50 construction companies as customers and is consistently able to reduce project delivery times by up to 50 per cent.
The raise was led by Sydney-based venture capital firms Equity Venture Partners, which specialises in software-as-a-service (SaaS) start-ups, and a second Australian VC outfit, Five Ventures Investment - best known for being one of the early backers of Canva, back when it was worth A$60m (the Australian maker of easy tools for jazzing up social media posts with graphics recently raised more money at a A$16b valuation).
Gabriels says he talked to ten US VCs, but went with the Australians after NZ Trade and Enterprise made introductions.
Gabriels wants to boost staff from 10 to 40 on the back of the raise - a tight tech labour market allowing.
While hiring people who work from offshore could be an option down the track, Gabriels prefers most of his team to be in the same office during his start-up's formative stages, when a culture and direction need to be established.
Gabriels declined to give a post-money valuation, but Companies Office records show he and co-founder Paul McDonnell retain majority ownership, while new investors Five Ventures Investment and Equity Venture Partners hold 15 per cent between them.
His immediate plans are to grow his company's business in Australia and New Zealand over the next 12 months and make Mooven's first push into North America - a market that's looking attractive given President Joe Biden's push for a multitrillion stimulus package.
About a fifth of the newly raised funds are earmarked for the US push, Gabriels says.
And about half will go into sales and marketing - "areas where we've had little bandwidth so far", he says.
Certainly, Gabriels and McDonnell are from geek rather than sales backgrounds.
Before leaving to found their own company in 2018, the pair were with Spark's "big data" unit Qrious, where Gabriels was head of location apps.
Today, Gabriels says they still have no direct competitor.
And over the next two years, he predicts the company will triple in size (the privately-held start-up has not released any financials).
Gabriels says its next major funding move will be a Series B round. He won't say how much money will be involved, but he has already decided that it will be driven out of the US.
Biden's infrastructure drive is a constant theme of his conversation.
"Take California," he says. "We could help them achieve 40 per cent more on their current budget."
And, more broadly, he quotes a McKinsey report that says there's a US$57 trillion need for infrastructure investment worldwide over the next 10 years.
That translates to a heck of a lot of road cones to annoy breakfast radio hosts.
Mooven aims to make life a little less disruptive for them.