Construction-Tech Startup BRKZ Emerges from Stealth in MENA with $8M in Funding

Saudi Arabia is poised to become one of the largest global construction hubs owing to its trillion-dollar infrastructure and the real estate projects that are underway in the country. BRKZ is today emerging from stealth backed by a $8 million Series A round co-led by Beco Capital and 9900 Capital. Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures, Knollwood Investment Advisory, RZM Investment and MISY Ventures also participated in the round. Following the fresh capital injection, the B2B marketplace aims to expand in Saudi Arabia and the MENA region to facilitate contractors in procuring materials and manufacturers in selling, with a focus on same or next-day delivery. He added that the startup can process commonly ordered building materials within minutes, but more time is required for “specialized materials”.

Saudi Arabia is on the verge of becoming a major global construction hub thanks to its trillion-dollar infrastructure and ongoing real estate projects. However, despite rapid growth, the industry remains entrenched in traditional practices, causing project delays and increased costs, according to Ibrahim Manna, the founder and CEO of BRKZ, a construction-tech startup based in Riyadh.

According to Manna, the process of purchasing building materials in Saudi Arabia and the wider MENA region typically involves physically visiting suppliers, haggling over prices, and no guarantees on quality or delivery dates – all pain points that inspired him to launch BRKZ in 2022. In an interview with TechCrunch, Manna explained, “We saw an opportunity to modernize and streamline the procurement process for construction materials, and ultimately save contractors time and money in the long run.”

Following an $8 million Series A investment round co-led by Beco Capital and 9900 Capital, BRKZ is now emerging from stealth mode. The round also included contributions from Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures, Knollwood Investment Advisory, RZM Investment, and MISY Ventures. This follows a $5.55 million seed round led by Better Tomorrow Ventures in 2021, with participation from Class 5 Global, Knollwood Investment Advisory, Plus VC, and several angel investors from Saudi Arabia.

With this new infusion of capital, BRKZ plans to expand its B2B marketplace in Saudi Arabia and the MENA region, focusing on facilitating the procurement process for contractors and manufacturers, particularly through same or next-day delivery. The startup also plans to venture into equipment rentals and manpower sourcing in the future.

“We’re looking to invest in several key areas to grow our platform,” shared Manna, who previously held executive positions at Careem, the ride-hailing company acquired by Uber in 2019 for a whopping $3.1 billion. “Our main focus for the upcoming year is to expand our in-house tech capabilities, double down on financing solutions, and ensure we have solid operations and supplier coverage in every city in KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia]. We’re also working on strengthening our vertical integration with suppliers to have more control over the supply chain. Additionally, expanding within the MENA region is a big part of our strategy, as we’re getting ready to bring our services to more markets.”

Unlike traditional methods of purchasing construction materials, BRKZ does not support direct online purchasing. Instead, buyers are required to generate and share Requests for Quotation (RFQs) through the startup’s app or WhatsApp. Manna claims this process takes just 30 seconds to complete.

“This method allows for customization and negotiation in bulk orders, which is common in the construction industry due to the specific requirements and large quantities that can impact pricing. The RFQ system ensures that buyers get the most accurate and competitive prices based on their needs,” Manna explained.

He added that while commonly ordered building materials can be processed within minutes, more time is required for “specialized materials.” However, even with specialized materials, the turnaround time is still faster than traditional sourcing methods from brick-and-mortar stores. The startup is also working on implementing an upfront tailored-pricing mechanism for their customers.

Since its launch, BRKZ claims to have facilitated over $170 million in quotations across nearly 1,200 products from more than 350 suppliers. These numbers are expected to increase as the startup establishes its presence across the Kingdom and MENA. This region is currently experiencing significant growth in the construction market size.

In regards to the impact of digitizing a traditional sector, Manna shared, “What’s fulfilling about digitizing a traditional sector is the amount of impact you can witness in a short period of time. Our customers are saving a lot of time – what used to take days now takes minutes, from raising an RFQ and completing an order. We’ve got folks in Riyadh managing projects miles away without needing to step foot outside their offices. It’s all about making things run smoother and faster.”

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Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

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