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INNOVATORS Q&A

New app aims to change the status quo in bidding for construction supplies and services

Dibbs serves as a marketplace for contractors, suppliers, and others

The Dibbs app, a new marketplace for construction products and services, was founded by two Rhode Islanders based in Newport.Dibbs Technology

Luke Fleury, a Newport-based real estate developer and general contractor, said he knows firsthand the frustrations of spending hours finding the lowest rates on projects and materials.

He and Case Olszewski co-founded Dibbs Technology, which allows contractors, builders, suppliers, homeowners, and others to find construction supplies and services in an app — scrapping the time-consuming, manual bidding wars.

“Users can compete, win bids and complete transactions using our built-in payment services,” said Olszewski, who serves as the company’s chief operating officer.

Fleury said the “marketplace,” as they are calling the app, was designed to improve infrastructure, increase construction sales, and provide access to more jobs. And its all led by people who work in the industry.

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Q: Who can use the Dibbs app?

Olszewski: Our primary user groups are the trades, so, any general contractor, sub-contractors, suppliers, and salespeople in supply houses and shops. We’ll also look to expand that into homeowners, too.

We are based in Newport, Rhode Island, so we wanted to be able to build traction here (in Rhode Island and Massachusetts) and scale it before introducing it to the larger networks, like New York City. We also have a full-scale launch plan to go nationwide within 12 months. It’s similar to how Uber launched. We are following a similar scale plan. The second phase of our rollout will be in April.

Q: How much does it cost to be on Dibbs?

Fleury: Other apps cost users, with high monthly subscriptions fees or by paying per lead. Our cost is similar to Airbnb: Users only pay when they win a bid. It will come in the form of a small transaction fee, based on the bid price.

Q: What is your primary competition?

Fleury: Our main competitor is the “status quo” of bidding, which is a manual, time-consuming process, especially for contractors that don’t like to use technology. I’ve used Thumbtack, Home Advisor, and Angie’s List (now ANGI Homeservices) in the past. But those companies were founded by tech gurus, not by an industry expert. The people who could use these apps were already technologically savvy.

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Q: For those who don’t like to integrate tech into their bidding, how could Dibbs will make it easier?

Fleury: Right now, if I needed to get a bid of materials, I would have to get on the phone and call a supplier, explain to them what I need, and go over my building plans. Then I’ll have to wait to hear back on questions while I call a slew of other suppliers. This is all while I’m shifting through my e-mail, looking at all those bids... comparing apples to oranges. With Dibbs, you make a one-time post and it’s accessed to a number of suppliers or general contractors based on your area.

Q: What about those providing bids?

Fleury: Someone would typically call me directly because they needed a kitchen remodel and I’d go to their house, take measurements, grab some photos, go back to the office, and put together a proposal and send it to them just to find out that their budget is half of what I could offer or that their timeline was unrealistic. So that general contractor just wasted the customer’s time and their own time.

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Dibbs scraps that time and streamlines the bidding process.

Q: How has the pandemic shaped the development of Dibbs?

Olszewski: We really formed in the middle of the pandemic. Every industry has been disrupted. People stopped traveling, the construction industry has changed, and there’s a number of issues with supply chains. Now was the right time to jump in and develop Dibbs, which be used by industry workers or homeowners that have been stuck at home and are looking to remodel or renovate.


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.