- Tom Young was inspired to start uDrew after a long, complex home renovation.
- After a meticulous research process, funding was a challenge.
- Young shares his thoughts on what makes a successful proptech company.
The proptech outlook is bright, as some of Australia’s finest minds tear down the barriers of real estate with innovative solutions. We kick off this proptech series with uDrew’s Tom Young from Western Australia, and with thanks to Cullum Ashton and Proptech Hub WA.
For Founder and CEO Tom Young, uDrew was a culmination point, the solution to his problems with the building industry.
What were those problems? A wearying menagerie of inefficient processes, a bloated bureaucracy, and creaky old systems.
While Young was in the middle of his home renovation, what should have been a simple approval for a fully compliant fence turned into an 11 month headache.
“It got me thinking, if I was having difficulty with my industry experience, then what chance would say, my grandma or accountant buddy have to get through the process before the design work even begins?”
So began the conception of uDrew, a building technology company that provides an interactive way to streamline the design, planning and approval of residential projects.
“I spent nearly a decade researching, mapping processes, teaching myself coding and figuring out ways to remove every bottleneck, headache, and unnecessary process by digitizing it all,” Young said.
Launching and funding uDrew
“Building a deeply scientific and scalable platform such as uDrew takes time, peer review, and careful testing,” Young said.
A compromised version of uDrew could result in injury and death. Getting it right was essential.
“We took our time ensuring the science was right, and closely collaborated with the Government and industry.”
Sounds simple enough in theory but making uDrew a reality was a little more complicated.
“Our biggest challenge was that people simply did not believe the platform could work, as the problems it solves have always been deemed too challenging – to many, it seemed like witchcraft.”
Investor funding was a challenge, especially in a typical startup space where a two to three year return on investment was expected.
“Initially, I re-mortgaged my house to build the first prototype, but I always knew we would need additional financial support to go global,” Young said.
“We were fortunate and eventually found some champion early-stage investors who saw the big vision and have supported us along the journey, which provided the resources to get the core system where it is today.”
With uDrew applying for their patents in 2017, the building technology company has gone from strength to strength, propelled by one innovation after another.
One recent innovation is the sewer pipe tool.
“Click on a utility and it tells you how deep it is, what it’s made from – basically an instant dial before you dig that does the maths for you.”
Another has been a refinement of uDrew’s Geotechnical Site Inspection capabilities.
“We’ve also had some significant scientific breakthroughs in the last month, which have the potential to do instant site inspections, site classifications, and footing design.
“One specific variable we figured out is calculating the ability to save tens of thousands of dollars per new building project and about two months of time per build.”
However, in what is perhaps the rosetta stone uDrew feature, the completion of the End-to-End workflow.
“All of our modules allow for the full building/design lifecycle to be unified – from initial lead, sale, contract, design, compliance and council approval,” he said.
“All modules come together to create a fully auditable and transparent flow from start to finish, each with different functionality and view points.”
“Just uDrew it!”
Young’s big-picture vision for uDrew’s future is grand.
“I’d like uDrew to be globally recognised as the digital transformation enabler of the residential building industry and surrounds, by enabling the entire building project lifecycle digitised, streamlined and automated; from lead, sale, design, approval, maintenance, retirement, data analytics, and help shape long-term policy creation,” he said.
“Ultimately, we’d like to be known as an enabler of efficiency.”
The hope, Young says, is that uDrew is utilised to such an extent that uDrew becomes a verb, the shorthand word for making a process easier or removing red tape.
“I want to hear people saying ‘Just uDrew it!'”
Blueprint for success
Summing up his passion for proptech, Young says, “What I love about proptech is that it is one of the last frontiers where technology meets industry, and there is so much room for innovation.”
In an environment where demand is high due to a housing shortage crisis, Young says any application of proptech that makes things more environmentally friendly, affordable, easier, and quicker for people and businesses gets his admiration.
For a proptech company to achieve success, Young laid out a few pearls of wisdom:
- A unique solution to solve genuine pain.
- Scalability for full potential market size.
- A solid, incremental long-term plan.
- A great team with niche skillsets and experience.
- Be adaptable.
The key to uDrew’s success seems to be a combination of passion and a genuine interest in problem solving.
“Every week we are adding to our functionality, and every week I am extremely proud and genuinely excited,” he said.