Miami Tech Leader: Patrick Murphy
Patrick Erin Murphy is blasting through some antiquated practices and proving that - through technology - blueprints can be created with greater efficiency and increased accuracy.
Congressman Patrick Erin Murphy serves as CEO and Founder of Togal.ai a company he founded while serving as Executive Vice President of Coastal Construction, the largest general contractor in Florida. Today, he’s not just leading both companies through a real estate explosion, but rather he’s blasting through some antiquated practices and proving that – through technology – blueprints can be created with greater efficiency and increased accuracy.
Murphy has worked in every aspect of construction, starting as a laborer, then project engineer, estimating assistant and accounting manager. He later served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013 to 2017 and was a nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2016. Murphy was eventually named chair of the Future Forum Foundation which researches key issues impacting millennials and he serves as a board member of the Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services, a homeless shelter for children. He graduated from the University of Miami and later worked at Deloitte, where he earned his CPA license that he maintains today.
Murphy sat down with SocialMiami editor Brett Graff and explained how starting a tech company can solve problems, create challenges and later, might be an endeavor some of us can consider.
The problem in construction: “The biggest component of our overhead,” says Murphy, “was the estimating department, about 50 percent of the time was spent on the square foot analysis, measuring each room of a house or building we’d construct. And until today, that’s been done 100 percent manually on a computer or with a ruler. We said, ‘this is a great use for artificial intelligence.’”
The technology Togal.ai developed: “We created a data set and now, what formerly took humans four to five days, can now be done in seconds. At the beginning, we thought it would be great to keep inside Coastal, to give our company a competitive advantage. Then we realized the technology applies to every construction company in the world, no matter how big or small, you need to know the size of the wall you’re building. That’s when we said, ‘Let’s spin this out.’”
The level of accuracy: “My focus for two years has been building out the technology to be sure it’s at least 98 percent accurate,” says Murphy. “If you’re talking about a $100 million job, being off by $2 million is a really big number. So we went back and blindly picked old plans, not knowing who performed the manual analysis, and found they were between 97 percent to 98 percent accurate.”
Challenges of the process: “Disrupting an industry in a big way will come with challenges. For starters, people are uncomfortable when they see an application that can replace their jobs as humans. So we have to constantly demonstrate the value. For starters, instead of drawing and coloring, they can spend time on higher value tasks. If you save money for your company, you can save real money for the client and become more competitive. And finally, it can save companies from taking on jobs they further down the line realize are too big or too small.”
For those of us at home who see a space for new technology, where do we start? “There are companies that will put together your tech team for you,” explains Murphy. “I couldn’t do the algorithms or write code. So unless you’re an expert in that space, you’re trusting a tech team. And there are companies out there who will find you a product manager to understand what you’re building, outline that roadmap, and present you with a collection of candidates for each position. We selected the team we wanted and now many of them are fully on our team – we pay them directly – and they have equity in the business. They’ve told us in the past, they’ve gotten nice salaries for creating companies that later sold for hundreds of millions of dollars, now they want to share in the upside.”
About the name Togal.ai: “Togalai means builder in Galic, the Irish language. We thought it was catchy.”
Brett Graff is SocialMiami.com’s managing editor and has been a journalist covering money, people and power for over 20 years. Graff contributes to national media outlets including Reuters, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Maxim, and the PBS show, Nightly Business Report. A former U.S. government economist, her nationally syndicated column The Home Economist is first published in The Miami Herald and then on the Tribune Content Agency, where it’s available to over 400 publications nationwide. She is broadcast weekly on two iHeartRadio news shows and is the author of “Not Buying It: Stop Overspending & Start Raising Happier, Healthier, More Successful Kids,” a parenting guide for people who might be tempted to buy their children the very obstacles they’re trying to avoid.