“What if there was an Uber for skip hire,” says Hussain Hilli of the inspiration that led he and the team at Skrap to launch their business in 2017. Hilli and co-founder Marwan Field had spent years building a successful residential property construction business, but were continually frustrated by problems with waste services suppliers such as skip hire companies. So they asked their third co-founder, Ahmed Rao, to help them develop a digital solution to their difficulties.
Three years on, Skrap has today announced the successful completion of a £1.2m seed fundraising round. The round, lead by Vanneck Investments, has attracted support from well-known investors including ARM Holdings founder Paul Huntingdon, Carwow’s James Hind, Market Finance’s Anil Stocker, MAB’s Peter Brodnicki, Onfido’s Eamon Jubbawy, Sundried’s Daniel Mulholland, Jay Radia of Yieldify and Reachdesk, and the business angels Adrian Beecroft, Charles Songhurst and Dennis Stevenson.
Although Skrap is a technology-enabled business, it operates in an industry that is a far cry from the sectors with which such investors are usually associated. Skrap provides an aggregation service in a fragmented market that has been slow to embrace digital technology. It matches construction companies looking for waste services such as skip hire with suppliers able to meet their needs. Construction businesses access these on-demand services through Skrap’s mobile app.
“We were aware of all these pain points in the construction sector and we were convinced we could solve them with a digital offering,” says Field. “We can help construction sites become more efficient and more resourceful.”
It’s an idea that is already gaining traction. Hundreds of suppliers across London, Manchester and Birmingham are on the app and have already completed more than 10,000 deliveries to construction company clients large and small.
However, Skrap’s entrepreneurs hope this is just the beginning. “The UK construction hire industry is a £20bn market, but it is poorly served with services not fit-for-purpose in a digital age,” Hilli argues. “We are well positioned to bring innovative solutions to help transform the industry and to make it a beacon of industry once again.”
There is certainly plenty of room for expansion. As well as building towards a nationwide offer, Skrap sees the potential for extending its service into a much broader range of construction industry verticals than just skips with a wide range of propositions spanning waste management.
International expansion is also on the agenda, with plans for launches in France and Germany, where the market dynamics of construction are very similar to those that apply in the UK – and where the size of the potential market is even bigger.
Ultimately, Skrap’s aim is “to automate the entire construction hire supply chain across major cities globally” in the years ahead. First, however, they must convince the sector of the benefits of doing business digitally. One of the biggest challenges for the business is that construction is a sector that has yet to be disrupted; while this provides plenty of potential for growth, Skrap also has to persuade construction companies and suppliers alike that switching to more modern procurement methods makes sense. Many in the industry have been doing business in the same way for decades, working with the same partners over and again; some do not yet possess a smartphone.
However, Skrap is undaunted. “We are creating new habits,” says Hilli. “The moment a new client uses us for the first time, they recognise the value of what we have to offer.” Skrap’s app enables construction companies to shop around for cheaper prices – often for the first time in years – to secure better service, and to source waste management solutions more conveniently than ever before. Suppliers, meanwhile, get access to a far broader client base than has ever previously been available.
The bottom line is that Skrap is tapping into a hoary old adage that so often turns out to be true – “where there’s muck there’s brass”. Skip hire may be a new frontier for digital disruption and entrepreneurial endeavour, but Skrap’s founders are happy to be the pioneers.
World News || Latest News || U.S. News