Filipina Women in Tech: Gamechanger Tracey Young Disrupts Construction Industry with PlanGrid

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Tracy Young, 32, is so focused on efficiency that she switched from contacts to glasses to streamline her morning routine (now down to five minutes). So it should come as no surprise that in 2010, while working as a construction engineer, she responded to a meeting that was slowed down by only having one up-to-date set of blueprints by personally ordering 15 extra sets. The bill? $27,000. "I almost fell out of my chair," she says.

This was Young's introduction to a costly reality the industry has long grappled with: Construction companies spend $4 billion on blueprints annually. That night, Young bemoaned her bill to Ryan Sutton-Gee, another engineer. "We should be able to load blueprints on my new device!" he said, referring to the just-released iPad. This could not only save costs, they realized, but also resolve another construction difficulty: Plans change so frequently that people often end up working off incorrect drawings. If everyone were using iPads, changes could immediately be conveyed to the entire team. They recruited a software designer, Antoine Hersen, and a Pixar rendering engineer, Ralph Gootee, Young's then boyfriend (now husband), and PlanGrid was born.

In 2011, the company was accepted into the prestigious start-up incubator Y Combinator, and with Young as CEO, it has since been used on 400,000 projects in 195 countries. Its benefits—logistical and economic—are so apparent that one project manager recently told Young that learning about it felt like being taught to use fire for the first time. Top venture firm Sequoia Capital sees the same magic; they've invested $30 million. "I joke that I used to work for one superintendent," Young says. "Now I work for hundreds of thousands."

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