Courtesy Procore technologies inc.
Chris Karcher, software engineer at Procore Technologies Inc., writes down some user-submitted product ideas that will be built into a prototype of the company's budget-forecasting tool.

Two hundred companies on May 4-6 attended a sold-out Procore Technologies Inc. user conference at the construction-management firm's headquarters in Carpinteria, Calif. Users lined up to learn about new releases.

"I wanted this to be different than any other conference by eliminating all the selling that usually goes on," says Tooey Courtemanche, CEO and founder of Procore. "Sometimes you walk out of a room where you've been pitched for an hour and wonder why you even went there." The approach must have worked because Courtemanche sold out in two days and had to expand attendance to 200 from 150 companies.

"I've never been to a user conference that was sold out its first year," says Joseph Little, construction-training manager at Dallas-based Streetlights Residential, a user who gave a presentation at the event.

Courtemanche's approach recently helped Procore to close $30 million worth of growth funding from ICONIQ Capital, Silicone Valley, which boasts clients such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter.

While, at Courtemanche's orders, funding and selling weren't discussed at the conference, updates were. One of the biggest is the coming release of an open-source Application Programming Interface (API), which third-party developers can use to build programs or bridge to other software to operate with Procore and mine its data. "There are dangers to exposing our data," says Mark Bennett, Procore's senior product manager, who related how he guards against those dangers. Courtemanche says the benefits outweigh the risks.

"Some customers want to yank all their data into Excel and run pivot tables," he says. "We want to give them open access to the copious amounts of data that they store in Procore." The API is in closed beta testing to current customers. In the early third quarter of this year, it will be open to any developer who has an idea and wants to build. Such ideas surfaced minutes after the announcement.

"I'd like to integrate Procore with [accounting software] Foundation," says Bob Gardner, CEO Gardner Builders, Minneapolis, one of the conference attendees. "But is it worth hiring a consultant at $3,500 to just look at doing it?" He discussed the question with his colleague under one of the big white tents Procore had set up on its newly expanded campus, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean. "I think it would be nice to get a few companies together and pool our resources to build the integration," says Gardner.

Procore also announced an inspections tool, new drawing features, and the ability to attach documents and submittals.

"The direction they're going with submittals will solve pretty much all our problems," says Little. Users now can auto-associate projects with roles. For example, all project managers are notified, not just one specific PM, he says. "No role gets left out of updates, even if there's employee turnover," he says.

Procore had no trouble drumming up enthusiasm. Its users heaped praise on the software, even during lunch.

Mary Power-Hall, business systems manager at Robbins Reed Inc., San Luis Obispo, Calif., says major construction-management-software service providers are "so big that their practices usually aren't yours." Her company switched to Procore four years ago, and she is pleased with the customer service, she adds, saying, "They're the most responsive software company I've worked with."

Others talked about the benefits of Procore over analog methods.

"It's kind of scary how we operated before Procore," says Dain Fontenot, supervisor at B.E.T. Construction Inc., Houma, La. "I was one of those guys using the green [project planning] notebooks. The problem with that is retrieving information. Procore solved 95% of the problems I had."


Article updated on 5.18.15 to correct Streetlights Residential's corporate headquarters location.