A new website, SearchCornerstone, claims to be “the most advanced searchable website for the Construction industry.”
Over the past 20 years, I have seen dozens of websites launched aiming to provide marketing platforms for the construction industry (I even helped one or two into existence myself, including the ultimately ill-fated tCn; post). Some have been global in perspective; others have been more regional, national, local or even hyper-local. Some have covered every part of the construction supply chain; others have focused on discrete sections of the industry landscape. Many of these have disappeared; some bombed spectacularly without gaining any traction; others struggled for months, even years, before eventually succumbing when it became clear they could no longer monetise themselves.
The latest website to try to capture the industry’s imagination is London-based Cornerstone, launched as a Beta version today (26 August 2014) by a two-man team comprising graphic designer Jon-Paul Winter and construction industry executive Andrew Link (formerly of Bovis Lend Lease, more recently at the Construction Industry Council). Accompanied by the now obligatory array of social media presences, the website aims to:
“… bring the construction industry’s projects, people, products and businesses together to provide an effective marketing platform, a database of searchable building information and a digital record of who built what.
Cornerstone is an open-source website where companies and individuals can create online portfolios showcasing their projects, skills, experiences and products. Users can add building projects to the map or edit existing projects with specific technical details, pictures or trivia.
Users are also invited to inscribe their name on to the Cornerstone of a project, informing the world ‘I built this. By adding this information they become easier to find in a fragmented market whilst also creating a useful archive of building information, the likes of which does not currently exist.
I am not sure about the last point. While users may not exactly “inscribe their names on to a project’s Cornerstone”, they can at least associate themselves or their firms with their projects at sites such as HonestBuildings.com (launched in February 2013, securing $5.5m funding in June 2013 and a further $4m in December). A year ago, this was also offering to help UK users connect to BREEAM sustainability data collated by BRE Global; Cornerstone also aims to help people identify what offices are rated BREEAM Excellent, as well as what major projects are planned near them, which buildings in London have more than 30 floors, and which products or companies were involved. However, I think HonestBuildings has gone through a number of changes in the past year, and now appears to be mainly focused on the US market (seemingly New York in particular), so Cornerstone’s USP may be accurate … up to a point.
For the Cornerstone proposition also reminded me of OpenBuildings, which I wrote about in July 2011. This site, also developed by a then London-based duo, now lists over 41,000 buildings, and nearly 15,000 professionals involved in delivery of those and other projects. It also spawned another site in early 2012, Clippings.com, which showcases many of the products deployed by architects and interior designers in the delivery of buildings.
Cornerstone is a free-to-use site. Premium services will be introduced in January 2015; however, anyone who joins before the end of 2014 will receive Premium Services free for life. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how quickly, if at all, the site gains traction. As the tCn experience showed, launching a site is the easy bit, marketing it effectively across the UK construction industry is very much more challenging.