In this interview, Lukas Olbrich, Co-Founder and CEO at Sablono, tells about his company and the unique product they’ve developed for managing complex construction processes.
Can you say a few words about the background of your team?
We are three main founders of Sablono – Sven, Florian and me. Sven and I have been working together in research at Technical University of Berlin. At the chair of computation in civil engineering we were looking at ways to improve the planning and management of highly detailed and complex construction processes. The result of our work was a software prototype which served as the foundation of our product and company today. In the phase of starting a business we decided to take on Florian with a fresh view onto the whole idea and a very good feeling for marketing.
What was the first thing you developed in the company and what were the results?
After starting the company in 2013, we quickly understood that our software prototype was not yet a full product. Although the theory and scientific approach were ground-breaking, the software itself needed to be refurbished. Our aim was to become one of the first platform providers for the construction industry enabling the people to access our tools easily through the internet and across multiple and mobile devices. Hence, the first thing we had to develop was a web-based version of our software and mobile applications. The result was Sablono Onsite, a software that helped project managers to collect progress data in the field.
Who are your business partners and how do you collaborate with them?
First of all, our most important business partners are our clients and users. We constantly receive feedback which we incorporate into our product development. In 2015, the most valuable collaboration happened with Waagner Biro Stahlbau AG and Dressler Bau GmbH, who used our products in large reference projects. Additionally, we are being supported by our investors High-Tech Gruenderfonds, Hasso Plattner Ventures and Allplan GmbH with whom we collaborate in the fields of business development, marketing and sales.
Tell us about your current product. Who uses it, how do they use it, and for what?
Sablono is a state of the art web-based process management platform specifically designed for the construction industry. Its unique technology allows for handling highly complex projects with hundreds of thousands of components and tasks.
General contractors as well as project management companies are using the software to constantly keep track of the latest developments on their sites. Various participants can collaboratively collect information on the detailed progress of the project by using mobile applications on the site as well as other relevant places such as component factories.
For the very first time, all information that is connected to the building process can be captured in one central database enabling the user to run complex calculations and progress analysis instantly.
Can you mention a few examples of where Sablono has been used?
The system has been used in building projects in Europe and the Middle East. In most cases, Sablono was used to track the progress of interior construction work in residential building projects as well as shopping centres -very often in the context of Lean Construction. The most prestigious project though, is the ongoing Louvre Abu Dhabi. Our client Waagner Biro is the main contractor for the façade, which consists of 7850 individual prefabricated steel components. These have to be produced off-site, delivered, assembled and approved by the owner in a certain order and at predefined time slots. By tracking the status of all 7850 parts across all 13 process steps with Sablono, Waagner Biro remained in control of all sequences from production at the factory to final approval on site.
What benefits can your customers expect to receive from using Sablono?
Sablono is the first platform that can handle more than 100K tasks for project management without losing the overview. We close the gap between high level of detail that is required on site and low level of detail that project management needs to receive as a quick overview. Data is captured with mobile devices which avoids redundant work as well as media gaps. Moreover, even site staff can be included to report on specific activities they have to execute. Real-time information becomes more and more crucial in the building industry. Understanding early on where your project is heading will help construction companies save tremendous amounts of additional costs which occur in almost every project.
How can our readers learn more about Sablono and how can they start using it?
It’s actually very easy. We offer regular introduction demos which people can simply sign-up for on our website www.sablono.com. In about 15 minutes, we guide you through the main features of the platform and answer potential questions. Afterwards, interested companies can get on board through our “reference project approach”. We offer specific plans for companies that want to try-out the software in one particular project first before deciding for a company license. In any case, our plans always include a professional set-up with one of our team members to ensure a quick and satisfying transition.
What are your future plans?
From the business perspective, we are focussing on growing our customer base. We have an awesome product that has proven its ROI for our clients.
On the product side we are looking at three major topics in 2016: Lean Construction, BIM and Schedule Forecasting. In all of these areas we have great new features upcoming and there will be a new mobile app. We are very excited and will keep you updated on our company’s development.
Berlin, February 17, 2016. Images courtesy of Sablono.