Autonomous industrial painting

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Welcome to March. Two months ago, we talked about automating the “unsexy industries” of the world in 2024. A lot of that analysis comes from our legendary contributor Derek Wong—including today’s article on PaintJet.

Processes exist for all kinds of things, but they aren’t always optimized, especially with the tech that exists today.

In other words, there’s got to be a better way to do this.

- Ethan and Arek 🦄

Autonomous industrial painting

PaintJet provides end-to-end painting for industrial buildings using AI and robotics. Using its in-house robotics software and AI, PaintJet can turn a robotic lift into an automated painting machine. Where traditional services would take a crew of six to eight workers weeks to finish a job with variable results, PaintJet can finish a project with two or three workers in a fraction of the time with uniform results.

🔗 Check it out:

💰 Business Model

PaintJet operates on a project-based pricing model, where charges are determined by the scope and complexity of each project.

📈 Traction and Fundraising

  • Raised $10 million in Series A funding from Outsiders Fund with participation from 53 Stations, Dynamo, Pathbreaker Ventures, MetaProp, and VSC Ventures

  • Painted over 1.5 million square feet of building exteriors and ships

👫 Founders

  • Nick Hegeman, CEO: Former CertaPro Painters Franchise Owner, Sales @ ExxonMobil

  • Steve Wasilowski, VP of National Accounts: Former Architect and Design Manager @ PPG Industries, Regional Production Manager @ CertaPro Painters

📖 Founder Story

Every great startup starts with a single phrase — 

“There’s got to be a better way to do this.”

PaintJet, the brainchild of Nick Hegeman and Steve Wasilowski, is no different. 

Almost 8 years ago, Hegeman purchased a CertaPro Painters Franchise. In it, he faced the stark labor shortage that many others have faced in the construction industry. On one instance, faced with a daunting task of painting a massive warehouse, Hegeman had to let someone go, which left him and his wife to work around the clock to finish the job themselves. 

It was during this time that Hegeman met Wasilowski. 

Wasilowski, a regional production manager at CertaPro, worked closely with Hegeman. With Hegeman’s first-hand experience and Wasilowski’s operational expertise, they came together to build PaintJet. PaintJet, born out of a painful necessity, looks to solve an unsexy, but common problem.

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💼 Opportunities

🔮 Our Analysis

There’s a sore labor shortage in the construction industry. With 62% of contractors reporting they struggled with finding skilled workers to hire and 45% of contractors turning down projects because of skilled labor shortages, there’s a dire need for workers.

Currently, there’s a shortage of approximately 100,000 workers in the painting industry alone. 

At an annual market of $200 billion, painting might be a bigger market than what you expect. Every commercial building needs to be painted for protection from the environment, and as every homeowner knows, that paint will need to be periodically reapplied. While normally, the painting process can be an expensive and tedious process, PaintJet looks to overhaul the entire process. 

With its lead roboticist, Dr. Sonia Mary Chacko, PaintJet makes the industrial painting process up to 5x as efficient as working with a manual crew, while saving anywhere between 25 to 30% on paint materials. 

The process begins with an inspection of a building’s exterior through drones, which helps give the team a complete picture of the project. After the inspection, exterior preparation begins. PaintJet’s robots wash the exterior of the building to remove any adhesives or dirt that may be on the building.

Once the building is prepared, the building is painted. The robots apply PaintJet’s proprietary paint, which has been formulated to last twice as long, and has been shown to reduce air conditioning usage by 9% due to its insulating properties. 

With the capital raised, PaintJet is eyeing marine-based projects. The U.S. Navy has a $3 billion budget just for painting its ships and submarines. Why? Because without the correct paint, ships can lose up to 40% of their fuel economy due to drag from rust, corrosion, and marine creatures attaching themselves to the bottom of ships.

All in all, PaintJet is looking to solve a painfully expensive problem. And what’s better than solving a painfully expensive problem?

📚 Further Reading

Written by Derek Wong

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