Memory is a powerful tool. But if your job was on the line, would you be able to trust your memory?
Enter OpenSpace. Founded in August 2017, three MIT graduate students came together to solve this problem for those who work in the physical industries, such as construction, real estate development and inspectors.
“If you’re an office worker, you kind of take for granted that you write a document and it’s stored somewhere and you can look at it over time and you can see how much change has been made, collaborate, but if you’re building something in the real physical world, you just don’t have that ability,” said Jeevan Kalanithi, CEO and Co-Founder of OpenSpace.
Kalanithi worked with drones flying over construction sites to get a bird’s eye view for developers at his prior company. Through that, he befriended a mid-size general contractor from the Bay Area. He would talk through his ideas with him until finally they landed on an idea that the contractor said, “Oh my gosh, we want that. That would be great, can you build that? If so, we’ll buy it.”
This idea was OpenSpace. OpenSpace is a software that captures “Google streetview” of a project that automatically tracks progress photos, whether by hours, days, months or years. Simply strap a 360° camera that OpenSpace provides onto a hard hat, hit go on the OpenSpace app, and the documenting begins. Users can then go back and look at the photos from any point in time on their computer or mobile device.
The reason this is a game changer in the construction industry is that workers will be able to see the layers of the project and not have to rely on someone’s memory. For example, if a project manager needed to know what was under the concrete before it was poured, they would be able to use OpenSpace to look back and find out for themselves.
“A lot of these things [in the construction industry] are irreversible,” Kalanithi said. “I mean, when you’re pouring concrete, that’s an issue because it’s so expensive and time consuming to figure out what’s under there. $15,000 minimum to see what’s under there. A picture is worth a thousand words. What we say is that we like to provide truth.”
It’s unnecessary for all workers to wear a camera, Kalanithi says, as the goal is to keep the behavior of the job unchanged.
Since the company launched a year and a half ago, it has grown from three to 15 employees and has captured 80 million square feet of projects. For context, that’s 27 Dallas Cowboys stadiums worth of space captured. Current clients are located across the globe, from Japan, Thailand, Brazil and within the United States.
“We’re seeing so many wins from our customers whether that’s to check something or resolve a conflict. It’s going to save not just a lot of money, but a lot of pain, a lot of trust destruction we’re helping to avoid, which we feel pretty good about,” Kalanithi said.
As for future growth, OpenSpace is looking to expand upon their current technology to help project managers make informed decisions in the future based on what was captured from the past. “We are looking to build analytics products on top of the data we’re collecting, to begin doing things like automatically measure change, flag issues before they are problems, all these things that we think will be really useful for our users that is like an additional brain and will help make their jobs easier,” Kathani said.
OpenSpace is currently located in San Francisco, California, but is hoping to expand their company to other locations in the future.
As for those who are looking to create their own tech company, Kalanithi recommends, “You shouldn’t want to start a tech company for its own sake. You should seek a problem you think you can solve in the world and you should decide if the best way to do that is with a technology startup. Never start a tech company for its own sake.”
Jeevan Kalanithi will be a panelist at the 2019 AZ Tech Innovation Summit, featuring keynote speaker Mark Cuban. The Summit welcomes speakers from leading edge tech companies that are driving innovation in Arizona, as well as investors who are powering today’s most exciting startups. To learn more, click here.