What is the Mercator origin story?
Mercator’s story started around my family’s dinner table, as a kid. My dad’s been in construction for over 40 years, and if there’s one thing I know best, his relationships are the backbone of his business.
My background is in data strategy where I've worked with countless businesses (insert some of the largest US companies that come to mind) across a wide variety of industries (healthcare, automotive, gaming, tech) to help them understand their data and develop business intelligence programs that help them use it to their advantage. Throughout these experiences, I recognized two constants: 1. data is data, whether large or small, everyone has issues with data; and 2. while companies tend to analyze their internal operations (we’ve all heard of BI), they rarely have access to data that paints the picture of what’s happening outside their organization - what’s happening in their market.
As a former head of innovation at a global marketing advertising agency, I developed products to help us enter new markets quickly and create effective strategies using external data - the data created as a by-product of industry interaction. Don’t get me wrong, we had the same data that our competitors were using, but the products we built to interpret this data helped us gain a holistic view of the external business environment. It was here that I realized that this concept could be applied to traditional environments, like construction, to help map relationships and ensure professionals, like my father, spent their limited time effectively.
In the construction industry, relationships and word-of-mouth play a crucial role in attracting new business. In fact, the industry is built on the backs of these relationships. Relationships held by folks, like my father, who are nearing the end of their careers and taking those valuable relationships with them pose a real risk to businesses and their profitability over the next 5-7 years, as critical business makers begin to retire.
I saw an opportunity to apply my experience of building rapid market intelligence tools in the marketing and advertising space to construction. To empower the next generation with the tools to answer the critical questions like who's working with who, on what, when, and for how much. From there, Mercator AI was founded in 2020.
What is Mercator AI?
Our platform is designed to digitize word of mouth, offering a solution that provides invaluable insights to contractors, real estate brokers, and building product manufacturers. We analyze a vast array of information related to commercial and industrial projects, ranging from land purchase agreements to design plans, aerial imagery, and tenancy changes. The data is then delivered to our clients in real-time with the insights and contact information to take action.
This technology reduces the pursuit time by converting months of legwork to just a few clicks. In essence, we are creating a category for end-to-end marketing intelligence in construction, and there is truly nothing else quite like us.
What problem does Mercator AI aim to solve for the construction industry?
Our primary focus is on developing an early construction project detection tool. Over the past couple of decades, the construction industry has witnessed substantial growth in the number of players while simultaneously facing a historic shift due to a retiring workforce. Younger professionals are stepping into business development roles without the extensive industry knowledge that their predecessors possessed. Their challenge is to build relationships, keep track of industry activities, and get ahead of projects in a way that cultivates trust: the same foundation this industry has always needed to do great work.
How does Mercator AI work?
We collect data generated throughout the lifecycle of land development, from conception through to post-construction. Our AI connects all this data together, then determines the project's current stage, and identifies the involved stakeholders. Users can navigate through the information, view project details, explore other companies involved, access contact information, and gain insights into related trends—all within just a few clicks. This process significantly accelerates the pursuit identification and pursuit research tasks that typically take weeks to accomplish.
The future of marketing intelligence in construction
The response to Mercator AI has been overwhelmingly positive. While some might have initial reservations about working with AI, there are innovators out there that are hungry for it. They experience it in their day-to-day lives and are eager to see its applications in the office. The support we've received from industry veterans with decades of experience is a testament to the opportunity we present.
I am excited about the future of Mercator AI and the positive impact we can make on the construction industry, building a brighter and more data-informed future for all stakeholders involved.