Construction supply chain startup Matrak raises $2.9m as China beckons

Construction supply chain startup Matrak raises $2.9m as China beckons

The official opening of the new Matrak China office

Melbourne-based startup Matrak, a company that is streamlining supply chains for the construction sector, has raised $2.9 million in a Series A round that the company says will help establish a presence close to the industry’s manufacturing base in China.

The latest round has been led by G&M Capital with support from Sydney-based venture capital group Our Innovation Fund and former Aconex chairman Simon Yencken.

Founded in 2018 by Shane and Brett Hodgkins, Matrak has tracked more than 1.2 million materials for its customers such as Multiplex, Lendlease, John Holland and Hutchinson Builders since inception.

Matrak, which has more than 280 clients on its network ranging from manufacturers, suppliers and builders, says it is transforming construction supply chains through connected materials tracking which helps drive costs lower and improve reliability for the construction sector.

The $2.9 million raised in the latest capital round will be used to fortify the company’s balance sheet as the company officially launches Matrak China, a collaboration with G&M Capital – a China-based VC firm - that the company says marks a pivotal step in Matrak’s mission to revolutionise the sector globally.

"We are focused on the smart construction sector and are always on the lookout for innovative, rising startups like Matrak,” says Lim Gu, the founder of G&M Capital.

“We are therefore excited to strengthen our legacy of international collaboration by investing in Matrak’s China office in order to support local clients as they reach out to the global market.

“Partnering with Matrak underscores our investment commitment to enhancing transparency and trust in global manufacturing supply chains and our support for global innovative startups.”

The Hodgkins brothers established Matrak while Shane was working for his father’s façade installation company Masterlite, when he noted the complexity of manually tracking and managing materials for the business.

Working with his brother Brett, they developed an end-to-end digital supply chain management tool that offers universal access.

Among the projects Matrak has assisted over the past six years are The Star Entertainment Group’s (ASX: SGR) Queen’s Wharf development in Brisbane, Melbourne’s 65-storey Aspire project, the Victorian Heart Hospital and Brisbane’s Cross River Rail.

Shane Hodgkins, the Matrak CEO, says the support of G&M Capital and the company’s existing investors was a vital step towards the company’s international expansion plans.

“We’ve been working with our customer in China since the very beginning and having a permanent presence on the ground means we’ll be able to support them a lot more closely, not only with their Australian projects but their other export projects around the world,” Hodgkins tells Business News Australia.

“We currently have customers in 14 countries with a very sizeable presence in Hong Kong as well as a number of manufacturing hubs such as Canada, the US and UK.

“For companies that have very long-term relationships with Australia, our goal is to help them get the same materials tracking transparency anywhere in the world.”

Commenting on Matrak’s growth over the past six years, Hodgkins says “the whole industry has been ready for new ways of working together, particularly for critical construction materials”.

“As we’ve started to see more Gen-Xers take leadership roles, we have seen a lot more tech adoption in construction and particularly in being able to connect for long lead-time items and things that are on the critical path. That’s where we are seeing a lot of different companies trying to work together."

Hodgkins adds that managing costs in construction is critical, with Matrak’s goal set to de-risk critical supply chains and “unlock more sustainable procurement worldwide”.

“For any construction project, if you miss your due dates, the penalties are enormous to the point where they can force companies into liquidation as we’ve seen quite a bit in the industry recently.

“Being able to prevent those delays from occurring and avoid those financial penalties is just a lifesaver for companies.”

Matrak first made contact with G&M Capital in 2019 and the VC firm has followed the company's progress since then. The latest investment has been triggered by Matrak's participation in the Austrade Landing Pads program.

“Austrade continues to play a pivotal role in enabling Australian startups to be successful in China and they particularly support start-ups who promote sustainability, like Matrak.”

Emily Ma, the Shanghai Landing Pad manager at Australian Trade & Investment Commission (Austrade) says she worked closely with the Hodgkins brothers to facilitate Matrak’s entry into the China market.

“I am deeply impressed by the two founders, for their resilience, vision, and willingness to embrace new markets,” she says.

“These fundamental qualities have undoubtedly contributed to their success, traits I believe resonate strongly with investors as well.”

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