Bandhoo Raises USD 1.1 Million Funding From Unitus Ventures

A CMIE report highlights how the real estate and construction industry took the biggest hit in employment during April–May 2021.

Bandhoo, a platform that aims to transform the digital landscape of the Indian construction sector, has raised USD 1.1 million from Unitus Ventures. By working closely with real estate, infrastructure and construction companies, building-material suppliers, and construction workers, Bandhoo 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.

Gupta believes, “The fragmentation and opacity of the construction sector results in the loss of opportunity, time and revenues for all stakeholders. To enhance the overall productivity of construction and reduce delays and cost overruns, Bandhoo brings transparency and ease of access across this value chain through mobile-first technology that connects builders and infrastructure companies to SME contractors, and SME contractors to migrant construction workers based on availability and location.”

Commenting on the fundraise, he adds, “The funds will primarily be used to expand the engineering team, invest in building new features and functionality, and scale up operations. We aim to onboard several large real estates 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.”

Speaking about the investment focus on employment-enabling startups, Surya Mantha, Senior Partner, Unitus Ventures, said, “Construction workers form the backbone of the Indian economy. 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.”

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.

Rahil Rangwala, Director, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation said, "The construction industry in India is the second-largest employer with 60–70 million workers. 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. We are pleased to see this startup emerge from our jobtech focused partnership with Unitus Ventures"

Growth since inception

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.

Digital literacy and smart-tech affordability

While technological awareness is growing in the country, Bandhoo is used by many skilled and semi-skilled workers who might not have the knowledge or the financial freedom to use a smartphone. To solve this, the platform focuses on ease of access: it provides a multi-channel user experience where users can interact with Bandhoo through its app, SMS, phone calls and WhatsApp.

Future landscape

The construction sector is likely to see a large-scale adoption of suitable business technology and move beyond WhatsApp and Google Sheets as tools for managing a business. Migrant construction workers will become much more knowledgeable about the variety of job opportunities available to them across various cities in India, and how that impacts their wages and living standards. The future holds promise for tech-driven solutions in matching demand and supply in the construction sector.

Market size

Construction is a USD 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 really smoothes out the discovery and interaction among all participants in the construction ecosystem: builders, infrastructure companies, general contractors, MSME contractors, building-material suppliers and construction workers (source: NSDC-KPMG sector report).

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