Patrick Murphy on Togal.AI’s 940% growth in 2023

Patrick Murphy on Togal.AI’s 940% growth in 2023

Riley KaminerJanuary 2, 2024

Murphy shares lessons learned, advice for future founders, and his vision for the future of construction tech

By Riley Kaminer

Have you been keeping up with proptech startup Togal.AI? If not, don’t worry – a lot has happened since the company set up shop less than two years ago.

The main headline: growth. In 2023, Togal.AI has seen 940 percent growth—going from 250 users to more than 2,600 users.

Founded by former congressman Patrick Murphy, Togal.AI has developed an AI-powered platform that streamlines the planning process for construction projects. The ultimate goal: saving contractors time and money.

By that metric, the 20-person company has already had a fair bit of success. For instance, they helped general contractor Coastal Construction cut their estimating workload by 40 percent, a savings of about $1 million and 10,000 hours of work – all in just one year.

We sat down with Murphy to discuss this growth and get a sense for what the future has to hold for Togal.AI.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Refresh Miami: To what do you attribute Togal.AI’s rapid growth this year?

Patrick Murphy: Looking back at 2023, it’s clear that it was a defining year for AI, and Togal.AI’s growth was closely tied to this trend. Our launch in 2022 aligned perfectly with the increased public interest in AI, particularly in technologies like GPT. This timing was crucial for us, as it coincided with a growing awareness and curiosity about AI among the general public. We were able to capitalize on this by refining our product early in 2023, addressing initial challenges, and ensuring that our features met the specific needs of estimators in the construction industry.

The construction industry is traditionally slow in adopting new technologies, but we saw a gradual shift as our users began to trust and depend on our product. What’s been really exciting is seeing our customers not only increase their use of our product but also recommend it to others in the industry. This organic growth, along with our move towards a product-led growth strategy, where users can easily sign up and start using Togal.AI, has allowed us to expand rapidly. We’re now seeing a global uptake of our product, which is beyond what we initially anticipated.

What tips would you give fellow founders looking to find product-market fit?

Early on, a fellow founder advised me to focus intently on our beta customers. It’s crucial to sit with them, understand their issues, and observe how they use the platform. Every friction point they encounter matters significantly. In our beta phase, we listened, but maybe not closely enough. Reflecting on it, a more dedicated approach to understanding those first 10 or 15 users could have accelerated our journey to product-market fit.

There’s a natural excitement about marketing, making sales, and securing big deals. It’s easy to get swept up in that and lose sight of what’s truly important – listening to your early users. Founders should remember that immediate market reactions aren’t as crucial as finding the right product-market fit. Looking back, I realize we could have reached our fit faster had we listened to that advice. My experience has taught me the value of prioritizing early user feedback, and I hope other founders can learn from this and achieve their fit more efficiently.

In terms of future product development from Togal.AI, what can we expect to see?

We’re forging ahead with exciting developments that build on our foundational architectural plan processing. Our trajectory mirrors the evolution of a construction project, becoming increasingly comprehensive and detailed over time. We’re expanding our capabilities to encompass electrical, plumbing, and mechanical plans, pushing further into automating estimations and take-offs. This deep dive into automation signifies a major step forward in our product development.

Another groundbreaking feature in the pipeline is Togal GPT. It’s designed to enable users to upload extensive documents and interact with them through a secure, conversation-like interface, free from external influences or misinformation. This innovation extends to a mobile version, optimizing on-site usability. Users can swiftly access thousands of pages of contracts and specifications, streamlining decision-making processes. Furthermore, we’re leveraging this technology to compare drawing revisions, with GPT articulating the changes in simple, human language. This feature acts as a digital ledger, tracking all modifications throughout a project’s lifespan, which is crucial for addressing common issues like change orders and construction delays. Additionally, our collaboration and commenting tool, akin to Google Sheets but for construction plans, fosters real-time interaction and ensures appropriate access permissions, enhancing teamwork and efficiency. These advancements position us for accelerated growth as we head into 2024.

Can you tell us a bit about your involvement with Renco, a separate company where you lead government relations?

Renco specializes in renewable composites, having spent over 12 years in research and development to create a unique building material. Our efforts have culminated in a product that significantly differs from traditional materials like concrete, requiring over 40 rigorous safety tests for U.S. building approval. The key innovation is our lightweight, highly durable building blocks, which are much stronger and lighter than concrete, and can be assembled with unskilled labor, reducing both cost and construction time.

Our eco-friendly blocks, capable of withstanding various environmental challenges, offer exceptional durability with a 250-year lifespan, compared to the 25-40 years for wood and concrete. This innovation not only reduces long-term maintenance costs but also has a substantially lower environmental impact. Our first project in Palm Beach demonstrated these benefits, showing a 20% cost reduction and faster construction. Renco is now poised to scale up production in Palm Beach, with a factory capable of producing materials for 6,000 apartments annually, marking a significant step towards sustainable and efficient construction.

What are your thoughts on the South Florida tech ecosystem these days?

The South Florida tech ecosystem is showing resilience and strength, with a vibrant community of founders and investors consistently engaging in events and collaborations. There’s a noticeable momentum in the region, thanks to initiatives like eMerge, which help foster connections within the tech network. However, compared to tech hubs like Silicon Valley, South Florida still lacks a deep pool of technical talent, particularly developers and coders – essential for supporting the growing number of tech companies.

This gap in technical expertise is a challenge, but it also presents an opportunity for growth and development. Increased focus on education and funding can help nurture this talent pool. The positive aspect is the foundational strength of the ecosystem, which is more than just a temporary surge in interest. It’s a growing, supportive community that’s diversifying the local economy and contributing to its stability. There’s a sense of permanence and commitment among those involved, indicating that the South Florida tech scene is not just a passing trend but a developing pillar of the local economy.

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How does the AI work in Togal's takeoff software?

Togal.AI is a complete takeoff tool built by estimators, for estimators. There are three main built-in tools that use AI to help estimators save time and money on takeoffs:

1. The Togal Button
2. AI Image Search
3. Togal.CHAT

Learn More About Our AI Features
image of Togal's application with a floorplan layout screen