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Gryps, a robotic process automation (RPA) startup focused on the construction industry, today announced it has raised $1.5 million. The company says it will use the funding to support product R&D and hire new employees, particularly engineers.
RPA — technology that automates monotonous, repetitive chores traditionally performed by human workers — is big business. Forrester estimates that RPA and other AI subfields created jobs for 40% of companies in 2019 and that a tenth of startups now employ more digital workers than human ones. According to a McKinsey survey, at least a third of activities could be automated in about 60% of occupations. And in its recent Trends in Workflow Automation report, Salesforce found that 95% of IT leaders are prioritizing workflow automation, with 70% seeing the equivalent of more than four hours savings per employee each week.
Gryps, which was founded in 2020, connects to multiple email, project management database, and other systems to automatically scrape and organize documents during the construction process. The platform ingests things like manuals, warranty certificates, contracts, change orders, invoices, lien waivers, and other close-out documents from different sources and then applies machine learning to categorize the files and label them correctly so that they can be shared with various stakeholders.
“We met in 2013 working on the same team at a construction management firm in New York City,” Gryps founders Dareen Salama and Amir Tasbihi told VentureBeat. “One thing was always top of mind: The industry is ready for and needs AI that helps process the volume of data generated, and it must be easy to adopt for users. We started Gryps to provide an amazing product with the best user experience and to create an environment where young professionals in construction can grow and find a fulfilling career.”
Gryps employs APIs and digital robots to process the documents it collects. Leveraging a combination of natural language processing, machine learning, computer vision, and document understanding, the platform canvasses, ingests, and transforms construction project data.
“We use cutting-edge transfer learning techniques to transfer AI knowledge from best-in-class models to boost our accuracy. We also use layout-based, Transformer-based deep learning models to extract information from documents,” Salama and Tasbihi explained. “Our RPA agents are rule-based software robots performing actions to get our information ingestion jobs done more accurately and faster than people can … For example, [we apply] computer vision and machine learning to extract and analyze trends such as companies, products used, services rendered, and costs involved from documents.”
Gryps has a number of competitors in a global intelligent process automation sector that’s estimated to be worth $15.8 billion by 2025, according to KBV Research. Automation Anywhere last secured a $290 million investment from SoftBank at a $6.8 billion valuation. Within a span of months, Blue Prism raised over $120 million, Kryon $40 million, and FortressIQ $30 million. Tech giants have also made forays into the field, including Microsoft, which acquired RPA startup Softomotive, and IBM, which purchased WDG Automation.
But Gryps, which has three paying customers and several in pilots, asserts that specializing in construction gives it a leg up over rivals focused on the broader market. To this end, one of the company’s first clients was the Javits Convention Center in New York. Gryps claims its software automatically ingested over 20,000 documents and 100,000 data points, collated them, and handed them over to the Javits team, with estimates putting the savings at hundreds of hours of staff time.
Salama and Tasbihi say the pandemic made apparent the need for and speed of digitization adoption, with construction teams desiring faster access to information remotely, in-office, and on-site. “With teams working from home, they needed more robust tools than what exists today to access project data such as contracts, financials, and other documentation as fast as possible,” they continued. “Project managers are typically extremely busy responding to project needs, which typically slows down technology adoption because they have no time to spend on digitizing their processes. The pandemic paused a lot of projects and provided executives and teams time to rethink their policies, procedures, and ways of doing business. Now these projects are coming back and the teams are determined to increase efficiency, and integrating new technologies is key to that goal.”
LDV Capital, Pear VC, and Harvard Business School Graduate Syndicate co-led Gryps’ seed round. A group of angel investors also participated.
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