Modern construction projects are complicated engineering problems, but unfortunately, construction management has been slow to acclimate to the modern digital world, and many construction projects are still executed much as they were decades ago.
But for Matthew Hudelson, this posed an opportunity, which eventually became Inertia, a company that offers construction management software, enabling seamless communication and detailed knowledge for real estate developers and construction teams.
On this edition of UpTech Report, Matthew describes some of the key problems commonly occurring on major construction projects that led him to found the company, and he discusses how he leveraged those problem-solving opportunities into a successful technology startup.
More information: https://www.inertiasystems.com/
Matthew Hudelson is the Founder and CEO of Inertia Systems. Since 2010, Matthew has worked alongside builders, owners, inspectors, architects and project teams to learn and solve the challenges they face on complex construction projects with technology.
The Inertia Platform is a location-driven construction management software that fosters seamless communication throughout complex projects, connecting construction teams from field to office on a visual and location centric platform.
DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!
Matthew Hudelson 0:00
We’re not just able to make a useful tool for the field. But we do we capture data in this proactive way that puts the problems in front of them so they could solve them before they impact.
Alexander Ferguson 0:15
Today, I’m joined by Matthew Hudelson, CEO of Inertia, their product is a construction management platform. Now, if you’re a CEO or a field technology leader, or another business leader of a mid to large construction company, this might be an intriguing platform for you. I’m really excited that you can join us today you started Inertia 10 years ago. What’s one thing that you wish you had known 10 years ago?
Matthew Hudelson 0:45
Well, first, thanks. Thanks for having me. This is exciting. What’s one thing I wish I knew 10 years ago? Probably? That’s a great question. Getting financial backing helps. That’s a it’s an interesting one.
Alexander Ferguson 1:07
The growth strategy of actually having that backing, it takes a different trajectory, probably of how were you get today, depending on if you have that or not,
Matthew Hudelson 1:16
consider it. I know, it’s a big decision point. For a lot of companies, it was for us to we waited a very long time. And there’s a lot of benefits to not having backers. But there’s a lot of advantages to doing it as well. And some of our more successful competitors. They had early funding, and they’ve been able to grow their platforms. And we compliment them well, and we compare with them nicely. We took a maybe a harder path, there’s no easy path. But
Alexander Ferguson 1:41
yeah, no easy path for growth. But you understand the problem itself. Now on your site, you emphasize a visual approach to construction management, making the most ambitious projects simple. By connecting teams information documents on a Visual Project Map. I’m curious when when you started inertia, what was the problem that you set out to solve and how has that changed now over these years?
Matthew Hudelson 2:04
Interesting. So the way we tell the story is used to build software could dive into different things just take on different problems. And in my in my immediate network, there are some hospital inspectors, California Hospital inspectors, and building a hospital in California is highly regulated, requires a lot of inspections, a lot of documentation. And they asked me if I could help them do their job a little more easily. And what they presented to me as the problem is that when someone comes from the state to inspect the facility as it’s being built, they’ll just want to point to something and say prove to me that this has been done right here in this area, this has ventilation shaft this wall, this whatever the requirement is, and if they can’t prove it quickly, the potential is there for the project to be shut down, you know, significantly delayed rework, etc. And so the problem was, can we just point at something, click on it and have a bunch of answers and get all the answers and information we need to the click of a button. And so that was our initial sort of objective, make things accessible through a click of a button.
Alexander Ferguson 3:03
Your model is a SaaS model. So it’s a subscription monthly yearly that someone would sign up for? What does that typically look like? Walk me through an example of someone saying, Yeah, let’s take advantage of your platform, maybe you can highlight even one of your customers.
Matthew Hudelson 3:18
Yeah, it’s an interesting, interesting scenario. So construction projects, especially the larger ones, they can go anywhere from three years to five years, sometimes even longer. And so they’re making decisions early on to, you know, partner up with a software provider, and sometimes several software providers. And they’ll, they’ll be a team for a long period of time. So you’re typically selling a service for the duration of the project. And with our platform, we have a lot of different solutions. And different solutions are relevant at different phases of construction. So the model itself is we sign up a project, we negotiate a rate, typically, it’s based on duration of the project, the size and scope of the project. And then once you have that project be negotiated, we turn on their service, set up the project, get their maps running, and go.
Alexander Ferguson 4:06
We were talking before we started here, part of using the software is getting actually buy in then from all of the team members, all the people actually on the floor because they end up utilizing this themselves if I understand like mobile devices, like it’s an app on there as well, or how does it all work? And how Why do you have to get that by him?
Matthew Hudelson 4:24
Yeah, it’s interesting. You say it’s a you know, you have to win from the top down, but you have to, you also have to win from the bottom up. There’s the when you talk to construction teams, they look at software just like one more tool and a lot of conventions, a lot of contractors, a lot of people will reference it’s it’s like the, the nail gun if it’s just sitting on the floor, if you don’t use it, it’s not useful to you. It’s just a tool that sits there if you don’t use it. And so that’s what software applications are. And so if you can build a tool that’s meaningful to the field team, that’s capturing data that makes things more efficient, more connected more. I like I like to refer to our tools being a proactive tool. We’re not just able to make a useful tool for the field. But we do we capture data in this proactive way that puts the problems in front of them so they can solve them before they impact. And so that’s why the field users like to use inertia, it’s, it’s easy, it’s simple, and it gives them what they need in front of them. So you have to win over the field, because otherwise, they’ll also complain loudly. You know, they, you can’t, you can’t make a team use a tool they don’t want to use or you’re not gonna have good morale on the project is put that way. So you got to win over the team. But in addition to that, you know, has to make financial sense to the the C level, the bosses, the project managers, and the owners. And so we have an appeal to all that’s to be successful, you have to kind of appeal to them
Alexander Ferguson 5:39
all. For the platform itself, the value of it, um, can you tell me more about the technology and how it’s different than whether it’s other options that exist? Or the the solution of not using any solution out there? How is that better than then not doing anything?
Matthew Hudelson 6:01
Yeah, that’s it’s been kind of fun. So over these years, the way that is grown, it’s spending a lot of time on the job sites with the teams, seeing how everybody uses the different tools. And there’s a couple of things that we’ve learned over those years. One of one of our larger projects, the Stanford hospitals, those ran for several years, and they had these massive sort of single point office where all the teams were for collaboration. So the owner design team, GCS, you name everyone was in there. And what’s neat about spending a lot of time in that trailer particular is you get to learn all the unique perspectives of the different users, like the design team has a real, real specific focus into what they want to see and how they want to operate. So do the sub sort of the GCS. And so getting an understanding of all these unique perspectives helps, it lets you know that usually a lot of people are just doing what they need to do. And then they throw the problem over the fence to the next person and let them resolve that problem. And so when you realize that that itself is the problem, and you can build a tool that allows all these teams to be independent and operate, how they want to operate, and the tool will connect them and transform the information that solves a big piece of the problem for them. So you’re getting everything in a single application, that gives everyone the perspective they need on all the issues they have to deal with. And how we do it differently from a technology point, is we do this on a concept of location based, meaning everyone’s gonna look at a wall differently, they’re going to one’s gonna look at it virtually through 3d platform, someone’s gonna look at it on a piece of paper through a drawing, someone’s going to look at it as a cost line item in an accounting piece of software. But we’re always talking about that same wall. And so what inertia does is we take that wall, and we make that the focal point of the conversation for everybody through our tool. And so when you want to know something about this wall, you go into inertia, and you click that wall. And you can know anything from the field concepts of like RFI trade damage, issue, punch list inspection, but it also feeds back into those other tools for purposes of accounting, or design or change management. And so by reorienting the conversation around the things that are being built the objects locations, and capturing information that way and communicating it through that medium, we’re finding it to be successful.
Alexander Ferguson 8:11
What are you most excited about? On your roadmap? Looking forward from here? Coming up?
Matthew Hudelson 8:19
It’s a good question. Okay. So what’s really exciting to me is this product that we’re calling ICDs, intelligent construction drawing. This is the evolution of like all of our hardships, lessons learned all the contributions from all the different users. Its construction is very interesting. And I stated that before, like you have all these diverse sets of skills and talents, and no one could really do each other’s job. And you you need all these people to come together to be successful. And so how do you give everyone so specific, a tool that’s universally useful to them and valuable to them. And that’s how we sort of evolved into this thing called ICDs, intelligent destruction, drugs. And what they is, it’s the ability to take what’s universally accepted across the project, that construction drawing itself, but make that drawing interactive and connected to everything. And when I say that, I mean, technologically, it’s connected to the 3d BIM model. So you’re gonna have different levels of sophistication, you’re gonna have the users in the field that are great at building things, but not such a big fan of getting into a 3d application in Revit, and virtual AI. And then you have guys who are great at virtual stuff, and they couldn’t, they couldn’t assemble anything in the field. And so you need to get these teams connecting, now they’re working on the same thing. So what we’ve done is we’ve created a conduit of information called the ICD where the 3d model feeds these intelligent construction drawings. The users in the field see a representation that looks and feels like it’s a PDF, something they’ve used for years. But when they click on it, all of a sudden it has way more information like it’s no behavior change, no, no habits have to change. You can still go on an iPad, you can still go look at your blueprints, your drawings, but now those drawings are so loaded with information interact.
Alexander Ferguson 9:59
Yeah, I’m sorry, interactive then
Matthew Hudelson 10:02
interactive. Yeah. And so it’s really neat. And what we learned over the years is, there’s different levels of interaction that different users need. And there’s different levels of detail that you need to actually be successful in tracking a project. So you can have like a floor plan that just clicks on a concept of a room. And that’s really good for organizing a lot of information. Or when you get really sophisticated MEP contractors, they need to know, you know, pipe by pipe joint by joint anchor by anchor, what has been installed, where does it go? What are the answers? What are the what is all the information? And so what the ICDs do, is they provide this universal platform in the field where you can just click on these components and get all these answers, or ask any question. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s really, really cool stuff. We think it’s gonna Yeah, we think it’s gonna be a game changer.
Alexander Ferguson 10:45
So as I asked that question, I could tell the passion in your and excitement. And what’s coming up. I agree that visual is a great bet to make putting the emphasis on an actual item people see I mean, are most people learn visually and interact things visually? Which sets it up nicely? I’m curious, have you already? Or do you have plans to integrate with virtual reality and augmented reality devices.
Matthew Hudelson 11:11
That’s what’s fun about this technology. So what’s really exciting about it is it’s a practical solution that’s like useful and valuable now. But it solves a lot of problems. And it creates a lot of potential for a lot of new technology to easy more easily integrate into future solutions. And so one of the bigger problems that I’d like to say we’re trying to solve or have solved with ICDs, is the concept that building information modeling. So this is the 3d modeling of projects virtually before you build them. So imagine you have a billion dollar hospital that you have to construct, you don’t just go in the field and start and solve your issues in real time. What they do now is they do a BIM model, and they identify all the issues virtually in advance and solve them before they actually cost money in the real world. And so that’s the concept of BIM, clash detection, front loading information, you know, fully loaded models. And what happens though, is you take this BIM model, and you have all this investment in it all this information in it in traditionally, you just export it to a PDF, and then you go build in the field. So you have a brilliant model, millions of millions of dollars are invested in it. And it has all these answers and all this intelligence, and then all that intelligence goes away as soon as you export to PDF. And so you export to PDF, you now have 1000s of PDFs that represent construction drawings, they have no connectivity, or no real information other than like a picture, just a snapshot. And so what happens is you lose all the value of them, that investment you’ve made, as soon as you hit export PDF, it’s gone. And so what ICDs do, is they maintain, and continue to add to that investment on them. So you have this 3d model is front loaded with all this information. Now you shoot it into an ICD, that ICD is always connected to the BIM model. So those 1000s of drawings are now 1000s of interactive sheets that speak the model and speak to each other. And what that does is it keeps the model relevant through the construction process now, meaning more people can focus on pushing BIM to its maximum potential, and more additional tools like ai, ai, VR, augmented reality, virtual reality, and just data mining, you could do so much more now with the information we capture with these ICPs. Because they maintain this 3d sort of geospatial recognition object records, like all that stuff, is consistent through ICDs. And that’s what’s special about them. Because now any other tech can bake into them use that information and then relate it back out or feed it to each other. It’s, um, it’s going to be pretty powerful stuff.
Alexander Ferguson 13:33
You’re definitely setting yourself up with your platform for future success, because that is definitely the direction.
Matthew Hudelson 13:41
We know we’re on to something we know this is a good answer. It does solve a lot of problems. Getting the answer into the field, you know, it’s never easy, you got it, you got to show you got to prove it. And it’s an interesting thing with construction. Like I mentioned before, you have projects that go three or four or five years. And there’s sometimes if you miss that project, you just miss that opportunity for a couple years. And so you got to get the next project and prove that your technology and how valuable it is. And it’s a it’s a it’s a fun space, there’s there it presents a lot of unique challenges.
Alexander Ferguson 14:09
So curious, do you have any insights unrelated to your product that a field technology leader or a business leader of a construction company that they should know in today’s world and where we’re heading?
Matthew Hudelson 14:21
Yeah, this is another good question. So there’s a lot of problems that we do solve with ICDs. And depending on who you’re talking to, there’s there’s different sort of value propositions. One of the ones that I find really interesting with ICDs is the concepts of lessons learned. If you do some homework on the construction industry, what they’ll talk about a lot is the ageing workforce. And so you got to get a lot of really talented, knowledgeable workers that are going to be retiring soon. And with them goes their skills and their answers and just little tricks of the trade that usually solve a lot of problems. And if you can’t pass that knowledge on effectively to the incoming talent, if you will. It’s And so capturing lessons learned and pushing this through to the team is a critical, critical thing to accomplish. And we can do that through the software. And one of the ways we can do it through the software is by maintaining that like, interactive concept and data driven approach to these drawings, any piece of information you attached to it, and then be reorganized and repurposed for the concept of lessons learned. So if you’re an owner, for example, and you’re building 10 different facilities in 10 Different states, but you’re using all the same equipment in all 10 projects. Well, we can take lessons learned from Project A in California and say, hey, there was a particular issue that caused the two week delay and a million dollars in overages. And we can take that lesson in through our database filtered over to the project in New York and say, This is what caused this problem. And this is how they solved it. Let’s prevent it. So it doesn’t happen here. Or more importantly, happen 10 times on 10 different projects. And so it’s a problem solving concept and lessons learned. And then there’s, there’s, there’s notes and tricks to the trade that when when you go into an intelligent construction going, you can click on something and say what type of work am I working on today? Like, what is what is the? What is the trade? Or what type of equipment Am I installing, and then when you click on it, it can show you notes in history and every project that’s ever working with similar type of equipment. So again, that note or trick from the experienced users can now be captured, preserved forever, and then be immediately accessible to everybody.
Alexander Ferguson 16:26
to kind of wrap us up here, where can people go to learn more? And what would you want them? What’s a good first step that they should take when they come to your website or what they
Matthew Hudelson 16:35
should do? Yeah, we are working very hard now to build out our website and and sort of educate if you will, on the potential solutions that something like an ICD can can provide. We we want to hear from people too. There’s a lot of really cool tech, like you mentioned, VR, AR, AI, and drones. 3d photography, like there’s just a lot of really neat tech out there that’s emerging that we want to show how when that connects with this, it’s an immediate conduit into the BIM model. And so what we’re working on on our website now is focused pages that explain you know, how this data connectivity values a project is valuable to a project how other technology can pull information from our database and make it more relevant. So what we’re working on now is building out specific marketing pages and case studies and white papers on how this technology can apply. But you’d basically need to go to a nervous system calm at this point. Hopefully, it’ll get a lot more robust.
Alexander Ferguson 17:31
That concludes the audio version of this episode. To see the original and more visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company, we should interview you can nominate them at UpTech report.com. Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you’re subscribed to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.