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Agora rebrands to Kojo as it expands construction procurement

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Digital construction procurement platform, Agora, has rebranded as Kojo as it expands to support new construction trades. In addition, it is also launching new products to help customers manage warehouse inventory, track project spending and reconcile invoices.

The construction sector is expected to grow from what was valued at $10 trillion in 2017 to $14 trillion in 2025, according to McKinsey. The firm predicts that about $1.6 trillion in additional value could be created through higher productivity using tools like construction digital twins and procurement automation. Kojo tools reduce the time for placing complex orders, optimize delivery schedules and reduce the need for onsite inventory. 

The company has grown annual recurring revenues four times over the last year by helping to bring automation to the construction sector. This growth has been driven by the construction industry’s unprecedented material procurement challenges. 

“Materials prices skyrocketed and supply chain shortages made it difficult for contractors across the country to get the materials they needed to get their jobs done,” Maria Rioumine, CEO and cofounder of Kojo, told VentureBeat,

Minimizing waste

Kojo is a term derived from lean manufacturing that suggests maximizing productivity while minimizing waste. The company claims to decrease the time superintendents spend managing materials by up to 38%, representing an average of $173,888 in productivity gains per year. Kojo claims its tool also streamlines procurement-related office tasks by 75%, saving construction sites an average of $124,000 per year. In addition, it can allow teams to solicit more quotes and automate the process of placing larger orders to help save an average of 3-5% on materials per order. 

With Kojo, field teams can access the Kojo mobile app and have real-time visibility into existing orders, material storage and delivery status. The app also makes it easy to reorder materials from previous jobs, create pre-approved materials lists and reduce all the time previously spent going back and forth with purchasing agents to clarify which materials are needed.

New features that automate requests for quotes (RFQ) help construction firms solicit quotes from more vendors to reduce material costs. The software can also help lock in prices in advance and manage larger buys. 

Expanding into new trades

In general, the construction industry has been a digital laggard compared to others. Getting buy-in requires simplifying the user experience and streamlining the workflow for construction workers, managers and office teams. However, workflows can vary widely across trades. 

So, they decided to focus specifically on the electrical trade to ensure the software solved their procurement pains. This success helped expand into other domains. Now the company has expanded into all major trades, including mechanical, concrete, drywall, roofing, flooring and self-perform general contractors. 

“Our process for expanding to a new market or building a new tool always starts with on the ground research,” Rioumine said. “We physically go out to the offices and job sites of our customers to learn first-hand how they operate their business so that we can ensure we’re building a solution that will solve their biggest pain points.”

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Tech News

ChilledCow lo-fi channel rebrands to reflect its iconic character

Modern-day lo-fi music was popularized by a number of YouTube channels, the most notable of which is arguably ChilledCow — which, going forward, will now be known as ‘Lofi Girl.’ The reason for the rebrand is obvious to anyone familiar with the channel: it presents a looping animation of a girl doing homework, and she is known as ‘lofi girl.’

Lo-fi as it exists today has become a massively popular genre largely with YouTube creators to thank. The channels rake in millions of views every month and have spawned similar genre variants like ‘lo-fi hiphop’ and the more demure ‘chillhop’ varients. These songs often involve looping beats and mixed-in retro audio or voice clips.

Though many channels seem to have sided with the Simpsons character theme, ChilledCow — which has been on YouTube for more than half a decade — went with something a bit more original: a simple looping animation of a girl doing homework with her cat in the background.

That character became known as the ‘lofi girl’ in pop culture, recently spawning the creation of an actual figurine. To reflect the popularity and the nature of the channel as it exists today, the creator behind it announced that ChilledCow has officially rebranded to ‘Lofi Girl.’

The channel’s creator notes that ChilledCow was the name selected years ago and that it ‘is no longer reflective of what the channel is about anymore.’ Fans don’t have to worry, though — the music won’t be changing, nor will the iconic background.

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