Jasen Ngo and Tim Go

The $60 billion domestic construction industry is expected to be a major driver of economic activity in the Philippines in the coming years, projecting a 7% annual growth rate from 2024 to 2027. However, it continues to lag behind other major sectors like banking or manufacturing in technology adoption to connect intermediaries across the industry value chain. 

Enter BuildIt: a construction procurement marketplace founded by Jasen Ngo and Tim Go that links contractors with a vast network of suppliers to enhance and streamline the material buying experience that is marred with endless paperwork, manual bidding, and negotiations that increase errors, costs, and project durations. 

Buildit was initially built solely as a cost control software to give contractors clearer visibility of their project costs, but Jasen, with his construction expertise, and Tim, with his background in ecommerce, recognised a larger opportunity in helping to solve the industry’s rampant disintermediation. 

“I think that the construction space, while historically a very slow-to-change industry, is ripe for digitization, especially as a younger generation of business owners begin to embrace change," says Tim. “The Philippines has so much infrastructure and real estate that needs to be developed—hence, my continued optimism that this market will continue to grow.”

By combining the functionalities of a digital marketplace with a robust cost control software, Buildit simplifies and enhances the profitability of the procurement process. It's a one-stop shop, providing instant quotes on essential construction materials like gravel, cement, and sand. This eliminates the need for time-consuming processes and allows contracts to make informed purchasing decisions quickly.

The Founders’ Journey

Jasen has worked in the construction industry since graduating with a Civil Engineering degree from the Mapua Institute of Technology. Starting out in fit-out contracting, Jasen eventually ventured into housing construction— designing, building and selling single detached houses. 

Tim attended the University of the Philippines to study Industrial Engineering before obtaining his MBA at the IESE Business School in Spain. He began working at Lazada in 2012 and has since been building e-commerce businesses, most recently with SM Retail and the Primer Group of Companies. 

Creating BuildIt is more than just a business venture for the founding team, it's deeply personal. Jasen built a career in construction, while Tim grew up observing his father’s small hardware business, where he witnessed firsthand the industry’s resistance to technological innovation. When the pandemic struck and Tim lost his dad, he experienced a wake-up call. “It put into focus the importance of spending time doing things that really matter sooner rather than later. It made me realize that I need to try my hand at building a start-up now or I might regret not getting the chance to do so.” 

Besides solving a crucial sectoral need, Tim sees BuildIt as a way to honor his dad’s legacy. “He was one of my biggest role models in life and business,” says Tim. “Successfully turning Buildit from an idea to a driving force in the construction industry would be a fitting tribute to him.”

Jasen and Tim instantly clicked when they were connected by Kaya Founders in 2022. “I think Jasen and I had a shared vision of what a modern construction supply business could be. This made it an easy decision to build a team together that could work to change the future of Philippine construction together,” reflects Tim.

Ever since the early days of BuildIt, Jasen and Tim have worked closely with the Kaya Founders team. “Ray (General Partner) and Raya (Managing Director) have been fantastic sounding boards for some of the strategy and go-to-market discussions as we navigated finding product-market fit,” Tim shares. “I have worn various start-up hats in the past, but Kaya has been really helpful in the transition from working in an already-established start-up to running my own small organization and supporting functions like HR, finance, and legal.”

A vision for the future

Buildit has its sights set on dominating the construction procurement industry in the Philippines, with ambitions to eventually become the go-to company throughout Southeast Asia. In the next few years, BuildIt is focused on increasing their gross merchandise value and expanding their business beyond Metro Manila, reaching markets in Visayas and Mindanao. Jasen underscores this goal: "We aim to be the leading name in construction procurement within five years, extending our reach to Southeast Asia." Tim echoes this vision, adding, “I hope we can start to make beachheads in other emerging markets. I have seen parallels to our construction supply industry in many markets regionally and can see our solution to digitization working in many places outside the Philippines.”