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Saturday, Sep 23, 2023

Startup Seeks to Ease Chaos of Construction

Datapoints for a construction project can easily climb into the millions. From general floorplans to tiny details such as which electrical cords to wire, architects and engineers have historically played the annoying telephone-tag game with file management, hoping the correct versions pass through a building project’s chain of command.

A Sherman Oaks-based startup called Pirros Inc. believes data automation can remove the chaos from file tracking for architects, and its seed round, backed by one of the most coveted startup incubators, proves it hit a pain point in the construction industry.

Pirros raised $2 million for its seed round coming out of the three-month Y Combinator Management LLC boot camp this spring, with support from the incubator, FundersClub Inc., and notable industry angels such as software giant AutoDesk Inc.

Pirros, according to its co-founder and chief executive Ari Baranian, already has customers using its product and is cash-flow positive. Baranian added that 30 companies regularly work with Pirros on feedback and development.

“The industry is so familiar with the problem that when we talk to people and just mention a detail-management solution, they can already resonate with what they’ve been hoping for since they started their careers,” Baranian said.

Here’s how it works: firms onboard their historical computer aided-design models, also known as CADs, and Pirros automates the search process by automatically tagging the hundreds of details found in blueprints. The company claims architects can type an asset they are looking for – like the dimensions of a staircase or a roof framing design – into a search bar and the details will appear.

Leader: Ari Baranian, the chief executive of Pirros. (Photo by Ringo Chiu)

Bigger picture, this simple call-up function could reduce the amount of time architects spend drawing blueprint details. Pirros can find specific details a firm designed years ago, allowing architects to automatically copy this data into a current project without manually drawing new assets.

“You can just use a Google search almost in the platform to find anything you’re looking for,” Baranian said.

Baranian, an L.A. native, began building out the product while working as a structural engineer at KPFF Inc. with his co-founder Peter Johann. The duo identified a web-based automation tool as intellectual property with legs and decided to run with it as a startup.

The “cloud-based” race has become a key tech push across industries, with companies looking to aggregate historical data so designers, engineers and artists can create quicker and increase client load.

For construction specifically, firms adopt digital projects so specs don’t get lost in translation in the long chain of command spanning high-level architects to workers on site.

It should be noted Pirros isn’t the first to venture into developing a web-based solution building information modelling data. AutoDesk, one of Pirros’s investors and the largest design automation software company in the world, announced it will be acquiring Unifi Labs Inc., a competitor to the startup, in March.

Unifi has a 12-year head start, but Pirros’s Y Combinator status elevates its intellectual property value, and the multinational conglomerate Autodesk spotted it.

In the short term, Baranian isn’t concerned about his seed money drying up – his company’s cash flow means the $2 million round will be directed towards growing operations. Pending customer traction, the company aims for a series A round next year.

Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk is a managing editor at the Los Angeles Business Journal and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. She previously covered real estate for the Los Angeles Business Journal. She has done work with publications including The Orange County Register, The Real Deal and doityourself.com.

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