Nine Four Insights

Why We Invested: Agora

We’re delighted to announce our newest strategic investment in Agora’s $33.3M Series B which was led by Tiger Global and included participation from 8VC, DST and Tishman Speyer. Nine Four Ventures cannot be more excited to partner with Maria and the entire Agora team to build a category defining construction materials platform. Here is a bit more about the business, opportunity and why we invested.

Agora is a construction materials platform that digitizes the procurement workflow for commercial trade contractors. Agora’s goal is to transition subcontractor customers from manual, paper-based procurement processes to a cloud-based system of record. This improves transparency and reduces the traditional costs, time and overhead required to submit, approve, track and reconcile orders. The platform is a distinct improvement for foremen, who can submit, edit and track orders through a mobile-app, purchase agents, who can retrieve real-time quotes from multiple suppliers and approve orders, and finance teams, who can reconcile digital order forms, invoices and proof of deliveries all in one place.

After talking with subcontractors throughout the ecosystem, it immediately became clear that Agora was addressing an overlooked and underestimated pain point in a global trillion-dollar market. Everyone was experiencing the same challenges associated with managing procurement workflows offline. Agora’s ‘connective tissue’ software results in less paperwork, reduced errors, shorter turnaround times, decreased costs and higher customer satisfaction. As a result, customers *love* the product. Customers buy more when their contracts are up for renewal. This speaks volumes about Agora’s product and its clear value proposition and ROI.

Over the last three years, Agora patiently built the leading construction materials software platform. Their methodical approach is laying the groundwork for a nimble platform capable of solving a variety of workflow problems and inefficiencies across construction procurement.  Over time, we expect to see Agora layer additional products and services within their incredible software foundation to increase wallet share, become even stickier for customers,  and further engrain themselves across critical daily workflows.

The construction industry suffers from a misalignment of incentives because downstream stakeholders (e.g. contractors and suppliers) often don’t get paid for 60 to 120 days. There are reasons why payments are delayed (e.g. inspections, liens, etc.) but there is no reason why it should take as long as it does. This led to our investments in Built Technologies (a construction finance platform) and OpenSpace (computer vision applicable to construction) and continued our focus on the evolution of the movement of money throughout the construction ecosystem that companies such as Agora can help drive in the future. Agora helps realign incentives by getting contractors the materials they need faster so that they can ultimately get paid faster. This presents an exciting opportunity for a company like Agora to create value for all stakeholders involved with a construction project, from developers to general contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers, by providing a new paradigm to expedite the development process and reversing the negative productivity trend the construction industry has experienced over the previous decades. Thus, it will be fun to watch how the business continues to unfold and evolve over time.

Congrats again to Maria and the entire team. We’re just getting started!

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