Bandhoo, a platform that aims to transform the digital landscape of the Indian construction sector, has raised $1.1 million from Unitus Ventures. By working closely with real estate, infrastructure and construction companies, building-material suppliers, and construction workers, Bandhoo said it is set to make the labor market more transparent and efficient. With this, Unitus Ventures completes its twelfth investment in the job-tech category. Bharat Innovation Fund and other angel investors participated in this round.
Founded by Prashant Gupta, CEO, and Sridhar Sundaram, CTO, in 2020, Bandhoo helps builders and infrastructure companies save costs and time in their project and procurement process. The platform brings the ease of e-commerce to construction by enabling the entire value chain using cutting-edge technology. Bandhoo is a 15-member team based out of Gurugram and Bengaluru.
“The funds will primarily be used to expand the engineering team, invest in building new features and functionality, and scale up operations,” said Prashant Gupta, CEO, Bandhoo. “We aim to onboard several large real estate and infrastructure companies, about 25,000 SME construction contractors and more than 150,000 construction workers by 2022–23. With such dramatically increased scale of supply, getting workers and labor contractors to any project site anywhere in India will be far easier and cost and time effective.”
A CMIE report highlights how the real estate and construction industry took the biggest hit in employment during April–May 2021. It saw employment shrink by 8.8 million on a base of about 64 million in March 2021. Most of the employment in this industry is informal. Manufacturing industries took a hit of 4.2 million jobs on a base of 30 million. It is possible that most of these were in the medium- and small-scale industries.
“Construction workers form the backbone of the Indian economy,” said Surya Mantha, senior partner, Unitus Ventures. He said Bandhoo delivers impact at scale for this segment of workers and enhances the productivity and business results of SME’s by connecting them with workers and large builders and contractors alike. “This will put India back on the global map in the coming decades as Bandhoo formalises a labor-intensive market like India,” said Mantha.
Born during the pandemic, the startup is distinct in its identity as a part of the construction tech segment. Since February 2020, Bandhoo has about 6,500 SME construction contractors and more than 35,000 construction workers on board. The company serviced more than 10,000 jobs and more than 500 tenders for SME contractors across more than a dozen cities in India.
“The construction industry in India is the second-largest employer with 60–70 million workers,” said Rahil Rangwala, Director, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation
He said bringing these workers and business owners under a formalised, tech-first set up is crucial to create sustained impact in their lives and the economy eventually.
“Ventures like Bandhoo are a catalyst to this new growth, engaging migrant workers, contractors, and semi-skilled workers,” said Rangwala. “We are pleased to see this startup emerge from our jobtech focused partnership with Unitus Ventures.”
Construction is a $200 billion market in India and so far hasn’t adopted much technology in its operations. It is also a growing sector due to investments in real estate and infrastructure. The construction sector is the second-largest employer in India (after agriculture) with about 60–70 million construction workers and 5–7 million micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) contractors. Bandhoo has seized on the opportunity to build a tech-centric business that smoothes out the discovery and interaction among all participants in the construction ecosystem.