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Contractors may soon order concrete as easily as most of us order food deliveryJuly 8, 2020

Is the construction supply chain ready to go digital? Five master’s students in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program are betting on it with their start-up 3C Inc.

Majid Tayefeh, Keval Gandhi, Manmeet Jandu Baldev Singh, Zion Christine, and Karthik Mohan have founded 3C to reinvent how contractors and homeowners purchase concrete. The platform they are developing will benefit clients whether they require concrete for a new home build, renovations, or a landscaping project.

They hope to grow efficiency in the construction process through a new digital platform that contractors and individuals can use to order ready-mix concrete. They will enable small and medium contractors to place just-in-time orders from local concrete suppliers.

Their research sees a efficiency gains in deliveries (33%), and reduction in waste (26%) and pollution (12%) by shifting to their platform. These improvements represent tangible benefits for people and the planet as concrete manufacturing is a large source of CO emissions.

To achieve this, the team of students has devised a way to improve coordination between production and delivery across nearby work sites; like large couriers have optimized parcel deliveries using digital route planning technology.

Moreover, they see their platform allowing contractors to make more informed decisions on available concrete products. Concrete is not a singular product. There is wide variation in strength, durability and insulative properties.

“Many contractors are not well informed on the broad spectrum of concrete products available to them and they often work with a limited list of suppliers that they have a history with. We hope to expand access to more suppliers and eventually the spectrum of products suppliers offer,” says Tayefeh.

During their preliminary research, the team met Saiedeh Razavi, a civil engineering professor and Director of the McMaster Institute for Transportation and Logistics, whose research touches on digital intelligence for construction management.

“I enjoyed meeting with the 3C team. They demonstrated a clear passion for their product and presented it professionally. I also think that small to medium contractors in construction can immensely benefit from the agile and optimized solutions that their system offers,” said Razavi.

The team behind 3C have presented their proof of concept to industry, and people are beginning to take notice. They have already completed several transactions, totaling over $15,000 in revenue.

Rick Martins, 2018/2019 President of the Ontario Home Builders' Association, said the 3C team will bring value to the industry.

"I believe the platform 3C is developing can be of real benefit to smaller homebuilders, custom builders and the general public undertaking DIY projects," said Martins.

The 3C platform will also make it much easier for homeowners engaged in DIY projects on their property to order concrete as needed, and to understand the difference between products available.

Although shut-down of non-essential construction work during the COVID-19 pandemic has presented the team challenges in terms of connecting with prospective clients and producers, while gaining support from industry associations. With the beginning of Phase II of Ontario’s reopening they’re excited to resume their outreach efforts.

The Entrepreneurship and Innovation program equips students with the knowledge and experience to identify opportunities to innovate, and understand every step from market research, product prototyping, to approaching investors. Anyone with a passion for technological innovation can apply to the program and graduate with a Master of Engineering Entrepreneurship and Innovation or Master of Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation degree.