The Artificial Intelligence Meets Human Intelligence (AIMHI) startup, developer of the first Philippines-based AI-driven construction profit management platform, has finally secured a P4.3 million financial grant from the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) and Accenture.
The Tagum City-based startup has received an equity-free grant amounting to P3.8 million from DOST-PCIEERD and a half million from Accenture, a Dublin-based information and technology (IT) service provider and consulting company, for the improvement and expansion of their software-as-a-service platform AIMHI.
AIMHI is a construction profit management platform developed by Eve on Top, is co-founded by:
- Cherryanne Lee Angoy, a Tagumenya with extensive experience in the US tech industry for 16 years and the owner of a construction company;
- Monica Llamas-Turrecha, a Dabawenya residing in Australia with over ten years of experience in the Information Technology industry with a major focus on system analysis & design, digital architecture, and UX; and
- Atty. Ma. Janice Tejano, a Dabawenya, an intellectual property attorney, and a Certified Data Protection Officer.
The software aims to solve long-standing problems in construction projects, such as:
- delayed completion,
- over-budgeting, and
- falling below the profit margin.
With AIMHI, contractors also expect a five to 10 percent increase in their profit.
Ms. Angoy said being the first AI-driven project management innovation for the construction industry to hail from the Philippines is scary yet exciting.
“Scary because we are carving out a new path with our AI-profit-centric project management platform. Most of the construction innovations out in the market are focused on the preconstruction stage, while AIMHI deals with the monitoring and management of the things that are happening during the construction phase. These things have a cost and time impact that could greatly affect profitability,” she said; “Exciting because, based on our focus group discussions with different construction stakeholders, we know this is a solution greatly needed in the construction industry,” she added.
Besides being a women-led AI startup built for the male-dominated construction industry in the Philippines, AIMHI is the only Mindanaoan startup approved of the DOST-PCIEERD grant. “Our DOST startup grant journey is one to remember. It’s such a humbling experience! We still can’t believe we got into the program. We applied three times. We did not get in on our first two tries but still felt like winners,” Angoy said.
About the Startup Grant Fund
The Startup Grant Fund (SGF) Program of DOST-PCIEERD aims to fund up to P3.8 million to startups located in DOST-supported technology business incubators (TBI). This shall support the research and development activities of the recipients.
To apply for the grant, a startup shall submit a proposal highlighting market-ready early-stage technology that can contribute to sustainable industries, learning and education, remote work productivity tools, content and talent development for the creative industries, and industry data-driven solutions.
The qualifications and evaluation criteria were stiff, and AIMHI could not agree more.
“When you apply for the DOST Grant, you can’t just show up with an idea. You must have a working prototype and show an early user base. It was tough, but it challenged us to speed up the completion of our MVP (minimum variable product). We also directly consulted local contractors. We showed them the platform and solicited valuable feedback to help us iterate our current version,” Angoy shared.”
Bumps Along the Road
Angoy shared that their first two applications were unsuccessful, and the frustration almost got the best of them after their second try.
Despite the unsuccessful attempts, the feedback from DOST and guidance from their technology business incubator (TBI), the University of the Philippines Mindanao Growing and Developing Enterprises (UPGRADE), encouraged them to pursue another application. They were also mentored by the University of the Philippines Diliman Engineering Research and Development Foundation, Inc. (UPERDFI) and UP Sustaining Collaboration in an Advanced Learning Environment (UPSCALE) Innovation Hub.
“Indeed, grit, perseverance, being open to feedback, and learning new things are truly great – we pursued the third time. We have incorporated all the things we learned from the first two tries and listened to our early adopters. And now, we have been given a chance by DOST in our third application,” Angoy said.
“She shared that they are developing a forecasting and risk analysis tool using AI that helps address the problem of overbudgeting and scheduling. “We are very thankful and excited because papunta pa lang tayo sa exciting part, our implementation is about to start,” she said.
AIMHI has also forged partnerships with numerous groups, such as the Philippine Constructors Association (PCA), and people that made the company into what it is now.
Providing Local Job Opportunities
Meanwhile, the thriving of AIMHI does not only benefit the company as it entails another significant contribution to its community—local job opportunities.
After working for several years abroad, AIMHI founders believe it is time to create greener pastures in their community.
“My co-founders and I had the opportunity to work in the US, Australia, and NCR (National Capital Region). Many of our kababayan from the province believe it’s greener on those sides of the world, and I agree. But it will always be greener on that side if we don’t do something about it,” Angoy expressed.
She added that providing local opportunities allows employees to work near their families.
“We have many vacant positions with our DOST project, and I am inviting IT professionals and data scientists out there to join us as we change the status quo in this industry,” she said. Angoy inferred that seeing the startup community in Davao City and other places in Mindanao thriving, such as Cagayan de Oro City (CDO), gives them something to look forward to.
“We are very thankful for this opportunity, and we know this comes with a huge responsibility, so the goal is to complete the expected output and, at the same time, get closer to our customer base, get more feedback, and listen to their needs so we can continue to build a solution that is truly useful for the construction industry,” shared Angoy.
AIMHI is a product of the ISKO Business Incubation Program of UPGRADE, a TBI based in Davao City whose aim is to build impact-driven, profitable, and scalable startups.
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