Western Australian startup CO-architecture has raised $330,000 in a pre-Seed round for its community platform for professional designers and creatives.
The cash came from Victorian early-stage VC Skalata Ventures, with support from several local angel investors, including architect and former Perth deputy lord mayor Sandy Anghie, and Hassell director Peter Lee.
CO-architecture connects independent and job-seeking design professionals with small businesses hiring for projects or work. Users can seek permanent or temporary roles, at a lower recruitment cost, as well as building networks in a widely decentralised industry.
Founder Kevin Mitchem said sole traders and SMEs represent 98% of the industry, but larger practices receive the lion’s share of jobs.
“Little has been done to help the ‘little guy’ strategically recruit talent or access the same pool of projects and contracts,” he said.
Peter Lee said CO-architecture offers a unique solution for a volatile industry.
“As the world of architecture is so closely tied to construction, projects fluctuate drastically depending on the state of the market and economy, making traditional means of finding work challenging,” he said
Sandy Anghie said that while the idea of a networked studio happens informally, a platform that opens the opportunity up for all is a needed breakthrough.
“What’s smart about CO-architecture is that it formalises this idea and scales it nationally. The platform improves the hiring process, and it provides smart, efficient and accessible technology to help support the wider architecture and design community,” she said.
Mitchem cofounded CO-architecture Wade Smith and Luke Hallaways founded after the joined Curtin University’s Ignition program in 2020, which led to them being part of Curtin Accelerate program and a grant to build their first MVP.
Last year CO-architecture saw around 8% of Australia’s design professionals sign on their goal is to hit 20% by the end of the year with the introduction of its new designer directory.
Registered users nearly doubled in January.
Skalata Venture partner Shahirah Gardner said beyond the industry connections the platform creates, the data it also uncovers is invaluable.
“CO-architecture’s ability to collect data on larger scale issues will help support research and conversations around equity and diversity,” she said.
Mitchem and his team recently published a comprehensive industry salary guide, aimed at closing the notoriously large gender pay gaps in architecture, design and construction.
It a major shock that surprised no one, women are paid less than men. CO-architecture is hoping their insights will help change.
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