St. Louis BizJournal Reports on Jobsite Unite

by JIM BAFARO, St. Louis Business Journal

Originally published on July 07, 2015

Time is money.

No place better demonstrates that adage than a construction job site, where lost time due to miscommunication over work schedules, weather and a variety of other issues can push a project off schedule and over budget in a big way.

Jay Olsen, the founder of startup company Jobsite Unite, saw the lack of effective communication numerous times in more than a decade’s worth of work as a carpenter, a site foreman, a crew manager and construction company general manager.

“It was always frustrating to me,” Olsen said. “Seeing all of the inefficiencies and mistakes being made because of poor communication, and the method of communication. So I started looking into a solution.”

Olsen created a social collaboration tool for the construction industry, and after two years of interviewing contractors, building a team, generating some startup capital and generally validating the concept within the construction market, Olsen and his team last year launched Jobsite Unite, a mobile app that’s designed to streamline job site communication among workers, foremen, project managers and superintendents, facilitating transparent access to vital information for those working on the job site, and in the back office.

The app lets workers check in with a tablet or smartphone and enables location-based communication while allowing the user to view tasks or images, locate and communicate with contacts, take part in project interactions and stay current with happenings on the job site via a news feed.

“We basically used traditional social media features that already existed and that people on the construction site probably were already using or familiar with, and used that as a way to tailor our product,” he said.

Launched in Des Moines in December 2014, Jobsite Unite scored a major coup earlier this year when it received $50,000 from Capital Innovators, the top-rated St. Louis accelerator, as one of seven startups for its spring 2015 class. Then in June, Jobsite Unite won another $50,000 from Arch Grants, the St. Louis nonprofit that awards cash grants and pro bono support services to startups that locate their business in St. Louis.

And while in St. Louis, Olsen said Jobsite Unite is busy reaching out to the region’s numerous construction firms, which, he says, have been “pretty receptive to the idea. Because most of these companies are so big and because they’re competing with each other, they need to stay on the leading edge of technology. If using new technology can give them a leg up, they’re definitely interested in learning about it.”

Jim Bafaro is the executive director and founder of InnovoxSTL, a nonprofit that promotes innovation and entrereneurship in St. Louis. He is an accomplished communications, government relations and corporate philathropy executive who maintains a tech startup column at the St. Louis Business Journal.