Architecture meets Artificial Intelligence
What made you decide to found CoPlannery? Was there a particular moment that sealed the decision for you?
I grew more and more impatient with the introspectiveness of the architecture world and the slowness of practicing architecture. To me, there was this great split between those who make architecture, and those who have to live in it – and pay for it.
I knew very early on that I wanted to establish my own practice, but when the opportunity came along I realized that the last thing I wanted to do was become one of the millions of small architecture firms out there that struggle to produce meaningful work and make a living.
So, I asked myself whether my contribution to the field could be different, perhaps more impactful and future-oriented. Since I’ve always had greater affinity for concepts, strategies, even computation, rather than developing construction details, I decided to create my own dream job and start CoPlannery.
What does CoPlannery do? And what is the business model behind your idea?
CoPlannery basically wants to fix that split I mentioned between those who make architecture and those who have to live in it and pay for it. The CoPlannery team identified two main problems in the planning and construction industry with regard to the split:
On the client side, starting a construction project is extremely difficult because the market is highly specialized and, therefore, very difficult for outsiders to grasp. And clients often have no idea where to begin or find help. Building is complex and extremely expensive. On top of that, clients are often misunderstood, and that can mistranslate throughout all phases of the project, making for an extremely expensive error.
On the planner side, we found that self-employment rates in Germany among architecture professionals are significantly higher than the national average. And these self-employed professionals suffer from very high personal risk and financial struggle, and they have very meager prospects for growth.
So, the bottom line seems to be, or is (studies have proven it): the smaller a firm, the more miserable its business situation. Bigger firms will always perform better in terms of revenue per capita.
We want to make the planning and construction process much easier for all parties. The idea is for CoPlannery to become a one-stop shop platform for planning and construction services that supports clients and planners, as well as contractors in future, from a project’s start to its completion.
Through artificial intelligence, CoPlannery can quickly assess the requirements and needs of a client regarding any construction project. Based on collected data, CoPlannery can match its clients with specially curated teams of independent planning experts as well as custom finance and insurance solutions. Throughout this process, CoPlannery provides clients with an online infrastructure that has intelligent tools for managing workflow, payments and contract management. So, many elements of the project’s management can take place online.
That especially helps planners who are fed up with – or just can’t deal with – the bureaucracy. Through CoPlannery we hope to create a symbiotic ecosystem from which all sides can benefit. Clients will receive a bespoke service for a good price that carries less risk than if they were to go through the process alone. And CoPlannery also gives them a clear, transparent and fully supported user experience.
Planners will also benefit through our new acquisition channel. Through CoPlannery, projects come to them instead of planners having to spend months on competitions that are unlikely to be won. That provides them an even and risk-free path for professional growth and productivity while also enjoying all the advantages of working independently.
What are your next steps? When will you launch your product?
Our next steps are to take our grand vision for the platform and to subdivide it into smaller, practicable steps or products. In a few weeks’ time we will incrementally release MVPs so that we can start to have a conversation with our customers and listen to their feedback on the product. It doesn’t make sense to remain in stealth mode like a hermit for two years, only to release a hugely complex platform that turns out to be interesting to nobody. We want to avoid that.
Our first product is Baustarter.com, which will be launched in March. It will help clients take the first steps in a construction project. Baustarter will help clients find out their requirements and assesses their financial needs for a new project. We will also recommend public grants for which our clients might qualify.