Two large construction IT startups came together on Oct. 19 as Textura Corp. closed on its acquisition of Together, the firms will serve more than 400,000 construction companies.

"We are going to work with GradeBeam to build what we call the next version of bid management for the industry," says Patrick Allin, Textura's chairman and CEO.

The firms, both from the Chicago area, create software that eliminates traditional paper exchanges, such as contracts, plans and invoices, and allow business-to-business communication over secure networks. GradeBeam, founded in 2001, has 450,000 active users. Textura, which started up in 2004, serves about 85,000 construction firms.

Roughly 60% to 70% of Textura's clients also use GradeBeam, say executives involved in the deal.

"We were bumping into each other constantly," explains Bill Eichhorn, Textura's senior vice president and co-founder. "I think we both clearly saw the synergies between our organizations."

Both firms started with the idea to use the Internet to make construction more efficient. Textura was the result of a consulting exercise, while GradeBeam's former owners include such large Chicago-area contractors as Walsh Construction, Pepper Construction, W.E. O'Neil, Graycor and Bulley & Andrews.

"Those companies still to this day are contractors that use the service," says Bryan Jurewicz, president and CEO of GradeBeam, who adds that the founding firms are receiving a portion of the cash deal. Terms have not been disclosed.

"It's an opportunity for these guys to see a return on their investment," says Jurewicz, who will stay on as president of GradeBeam. It will operate as a division of Textura.

A popular tool in the construction industry, GradeBeam lately has sought greater financial backing and IT resources, sources close to the deal told ENR. Textura, whose investors include Aon Corp., Northwater Capital and First Midwest Bank, opens the door to new platforms and services.