Funds lay foundation for building products website

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A technology start-up which aims to transform the way architects decide which materials to use on construction projects has secured £125,000 in seed funding.

Edinburgh-based SpecifiedBy has developed a site where architects and others in the construction industry can research products and read reviews on them posted by others.

The company, founded by 28-year-old Edinburgh Napier University architectural technology graduate Darren Lester, has now closed a seed investment round of £125,000, led by Newcastle-based Northstar Ventures and IP Group, and supported by several business angels.

Lester said the funding would enable the fledgling site to invest in marketing and to recruit staff.

“The construction industry is not exactly renowned for its openness or sharing ­culture, so we’ve taken on a big challenge,” Lester admitted.

“Researching all the different products out there is a huge task for architects and others involved in construction but we believe that by giving the industry access to better information, better decisions will be made,” he said.

“We’re not a review website as such, but we provide access to first-hand experience of working with particular products, materials and companies in the same way that Trip­Advisor gives the inside track on hotels and restaurants.”

The site will generate revenues from manufacturers whose products are featured on the portal but will be free for architects and others to use.

As well as providing technical information, design data and reviews, the site also enables users to ask questions about each product which can be answered by other industry professionals who have worked with it, or by the manufacturer themselves.

The investment will also help to further develop the platform, including the introduction of a “private library” version aimed at teams and practices rather than individuals.

“Up to now the business has been funded by a couple of small grants and our own funds and we’ve come a long way in the past 12 months with very limited resources,” said Lester.

“This investment will allow us to do some of the more technically challenging stuff we’ve had planned and really crack on.”