Constructor University graduates digitize construction industry
Rezi Chikviladze and Manuel Kimanov
In their second year at Constructor University in Bremen, Rezi Chikviladze (left) and fellow student Manuel Kimanov (right) founded the start-up "Sharemac", today “syniotec”. (Source: syniotec)

In his second year at Constructor University in Bremen, Rezi Chikviladze, then aged 19, and fellow student Manuel Kimanov founded the start-up "Sharemac". The former “Airbnb” for construction machinery has since become "syniotec", a company with around 60 employees that is driving digitization in the branch.

"Entrepreneurship and Innovation", was the name of the course in his freshman year in 2016 that started it all. Rezi didn't want to study in his native country Georgia but wanted to go to a campus university that was international, English-speaking, ambitious. "Constructor University is very well known in Georgia. For me, it was the best choice."

How do you develop a business idea? How do you make it palatable to potential investors? What goes into a business plan? Questions like these that were covered in the course. "Our first idea was to rent out the university's labs to externals to make them even busier. But that market quickly proved to be too small," Rezi recalled. They looked for assets that were expensive, shareable and could be used more efficiently – and came across construction machinery.

Excavators, cranes or wheel loaders are often only partially utilized. Why not rent them out during the time they are standing around uselessly? That was the basic idea behind Sharemac. While studying Industrial Engineering & Management, Rezi and Manuel Kimanov developed the idea further.  But two young international students with limited knowledge of the German language did not get very far in a rather conservative industry. It helped that Dr. Sven Voelpel, Professor of Business Administration at Constructor University, got involved as a co-founder.

In the fall of 2017, the start-up presented its project at a conference of the Lower Saxony-Bremen Construction Industry Association. A short time later, Sharemac had collected around 370,000 euros in seed capital. The platform was built in parallel with their studies. "Studies and the start-up: we had two full-time jobs, it wasn't easy to find the balance," Rezi said. Constructor University helped here, too, for example by providing office space on campus for the start-up. Rezi graduated in 2019 and has since taken care of the company full-time.

The solution was met with great interest in the construction industry; the added value created by the rental platform was obvious. But the limits of the business model were also becoming increasingly apparent. "In practice, many companies know too little about where their machines are at the moment, what they are used for and for how long. There is often an information gap between management and the jobsite," Rezi explained. "For us, that meant adapting our offer and developing it further."

Thus, the brokerage platform became a software developer for construction companies. The "Smart Asset Manager" (SAM) developed by the start-up offers companies a complete overview and transparency of their machinery and its disposition. Construction site documentation and personnel planning are also part of SAM. The construction machinery is equipped with GPS trackers and connected to the software via "Internet of Things" technology. The changes were also visible in the name: Sharemac became syniotec in 2022, the abbreviation standing for the synchronization of construction site data via IoT technology. But the basic idea remained the same: to help companies use their construction machines and excavators more efficiently.

In the meantime, syniotec is no longer located on the campus of Constructor University, but in downtown Bremen, not far from the main train station. A subsidiary was founded in Georgia, which is primarily concerned with software development. The start-up is also active in Austria, Switzerland and Latvia and has well-known companies from the industry among its customers.

Rezi and his team are working to further improve their offer. The IoT technology should provide more data, for example, about the condition of the machines, anticipated repairs, or even provide information for more efficient use by the operators. And of course, syniotec wants to continue to grow, also internationally.

From zero to 60 employees within seven years, that's something to be proud of. "You always wish that even more is possible," said Rezi, who describes himself as very ambitious. “But the bottom line is that we are very pleased with the way our solutions have been received."

This text is part of the "Faces" series, in which Constructor University introduces students, alumni, professors and staff.

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About Constructor University:
Founded in 2001, Constructor University is a top-ranked, English-language, private university, with a campus in Bremen, Germany. With its interdisciplinary approach, advanced digital learning tools and accredited programs, it equips students with fundamental knowledge, critical thinking and practical skills to build their professional career and address the world’s most pressing challenges.
The University emphasizes a synergetic and entrepreneurial spirit, offering program mentoring from top-tier professors and industry experts. Partner collaborations include the Constructor Institute in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, Carnegie Mellon, the National University of Singapore, the University of Geneva, and industry references such as Anisoprint, JetBrains and ChemDiv.
Internationality and diversity lie at the heart of Constructor University, with more than 110 nations at its vibrant and close-knit campus community in Bremen. There, students enjoy active campus life, with access to clubs, professional networks and academic counselling, essential to their personal and academic growth.
Research-centric faculty projects at the University are funded by the German Research Foundation, the European Union's Framework Program for Research and Innovation, and globally leading companies.  

The greater Constructor Knowledge ecosystem includes Constructor University in Bremen, Germany, and Constructor Institute in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.  It is a provider of education services with education tools, worldwide traditional and online educational services, as well as advisory and strategic services to education customers in the fields of student recruitment, communications, and marketing support.

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