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Bridgit co-founders Lauren Lake, left, and Mallorie Brodie.Handout

A Kitchener, Ont.-based software startup whose work force planning tool is being rapidly adopted by North American builders has raised $24-million led by U.S. venture capitalists.

Bridgit Inc., co-founded by CEO Mallorie Brodie and chief operating officer Lauren Lake, tapped real estate technology venture capital firm Camber Creek of Rockville, Md., and Silicon Valley’s Storm Ventures to lead the funding. Other investors in the round included Nine Four Ventures, as well as past investors StandUp Ventures, Sands Capital, Vanedge Capital and BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Venture Fund.

Bridgit’s flagship product, Bridgit Bench, has 150 construction company customers, double the amount from July, 2020, the company says. Annualized revenues have increased by 140 per cent in the past year, and 68 of the top 400 engineering and construction firms in North America use it, according to Bridgit. Ms. Brodie estimated the 83-person company could quadruple revenues just by expanding with existing clients.

“They’re punching at or above their weight” in terms of revenue growth, said Michelle Scarborough, managing partner of the BDC fund and a Bridgit board member.

In an era where technology ventures led by women are still scarce and underfunded, Bridgit is one of several Canadian companies founded or led by women that collectively have had a breakout year. Coconut Software Corp., Knix Wear Inc., Waabi Innovation Inc., Brim Financial Inc. and Symend Inc., have each raised tens of millions of dollars. Risk and compliance software maker Galvanize Inc., was sold for US$1-billion in February, while e-commerce merchant financier Clear Finance Technology, co-led by Michele Romanow, raised US$300-million-plus, achieving a US$2-billion valuation.

One of 2021′s most sought-after Canadian IPOs was this month’s issue by decision analytics software company Copperleaf Technologies Inc., led by Judi Hess. Thinkific Labs Inc., co-founded by chief operating officer Miranda Lievers, had a successful TSX debut in April.

Many more women-led Canadian companies are on the verge of breaking out, said Michelle McBane, managing director of Bridgit backer StandUp. “Our funnel of investment opportunities is incredibly strong right now,” said Ms. McBane, who firm invests in companies with at least one woman in the C-suite. “The path that this first group of women has paved has led to many more coming behind them.”

Bridgit’s co-founders met in 2013 during their final year at University of Western Ontario and were paired up through an accelerator program for young entrepreneurs. Ms. Brodie was a business student and Ms. Lake studied civil engineering. Both came from families that owned construction companies, so they decided to address industry problems. Their first product was a digital “punch list,” a kind of checklist that workers and inspectors used to track project tasks on mobile devices.

But they couldn’t generate recurring revenue with the punch list software alone, so they decided to develop something else. That led to Bridgit Bench, a work force and resource planning program construction that companies access online on a subscription basis. Depending on staff size, fees for Bridgit Bench, which replaces manual processes including spreadsheets and whiteboards, can run from $25,000 to $250,000 per firm annually.

People management “is an area of the business where we’re seeing a lot of investment, but there haven’t really been tools to support the specific needs of the industry when it comes to building up their people,” Ms. Brodie said.

Bridgit Bench was a quick hit, and last year Bridgit raised $9.4-million led by U.S. construction software giant Autodesk Inc. “When we talked to Bridgit customers the feedback was extremely positive,” said Arun Penmetsa, a partner with Storm Ventures. “It not only helped them manage their work force but become better at managing projects, enabling them to bid on future projects with more confidence.”

Johnathon Grammer, director of operational excellence with Dallas-based general contractor Rogers-O’Brien Construction Co., said he had been looking for eight months for a product that would help his firm effectively and digitally plan its people needs before he found Bridgit in 2019. “We’d gone through no less than a dozen other companies that do similar functions but were not geared to the construction industry. None checked all our mandatory boxes. Then Bench came along. It checked all of them.” He said by using Bridgit his firm has cut the length of weekly operational meetings by 30 to 50 per cent. “That’s a huge benefit.”

Meanwhile, the construction technology space has been building momentum. Autodesk has been a steady acquirer of construction tech startups and Procore Technologies Inc. went public on the New York Stock Exchange in May. “We felt like this was an opportunity where if we had more capital to put to work we could really scale the business at an accelerated rate” and expand into related areas, Ms. Brodie said.

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