Document Crunch Wins IGI 2020 Start-Up Battle
BY: Tim Speno, President & CEO, E2E Summit
New Firm Uses Artificial Intelligence to Review Contracts and Insurance Policies
One of the highlights of Virtual Industrial Grade Innovation 2020 was our third annual Start-Up Battle. This year, 16 construction-technology startups competed in four rounds of head-to-head battles to see who would win the title of IGI Start-Up Battle Champion — not to mention the $20,000 grand prize sponsored by Barton Malow and NMAPC. Each startup pitched its company to venture capitalists and online attendees, who all got a chance to vote.
When the dust settled and the buzzer sounded, the winner was Document Crunch, a fascinating new venture that brings the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to bear on one of the trickiest areas of the construction industry — risk provisions in contracts, insurance policies, plans/drawings and specifications. Here’s a look inside its operation.
Construction contract documents and insurance policies contain huge risks for contractors. They are often long and complex and can include hidden risk-shifting provisions and traps for the unwary. Those same critical risk provisions are sometimes hidden in voluminous technical specification books and in notes on drawings and plans.
Finding these risks — and understanding how to navigate and address them — is critical to ensuring that projects are completed successfully. Hiring lawyers to review all these documents is extremely expensive and time-consuming.
Enter Document Crunch co-founders, Josh Levy and Adam Handfinger. The two have been working as construction lawyers representing contractors as both in-house and outside counsel for more than 30 years combined. Josh was originally Adam’s law clerk and associate, until leaving to work inhouse at an ENR Top 50 Contractor. Josh then became Adam’s client, and the two continued to collaborate on these issues.
Josh and Adam have seen firsthand how a bad contract can torpedo a contractor and the pain points contractors feel trying to manage these risks and navigate toward success. About two years ago, after hearing about the significant advancements in natural language processing and data extraction, Josh and Adam went looking for a platform that could be immediately used to review these complex and voluminous documents. Nothing was available. Literally, no options.
So their mission changed. Josh and Adam formed Document Crunch to solve this problem specifically for the construction industry.
Document Crunch allows contractors, owners and insurers to upload contracts, insurance policies, technical specifications and drawings to its AI platform. This platform quickly digests and deconstructs the documents and provides an intuitive, easyto-use interface that helps users identify and review critical risk-shifting provisions and important business terms (see box, Page 25)
After processing the documents and identifying the relevant provisions, Document Crunch grants users access to an intuitive platform that allows them to quickly locate the provisions, conduct word searches, make notes for each provision and share the output (or what they call the “Crunch”) with other users free of charge. Document Crunch’s construction industry curators — real live human beings! — also provide helpful tips and practice pointers for each provision, as well as suggested sample language that can be used via simple copy/paste. The format is easy to use and promotes fast and efficient navigation through the document.
Document Crunch deploys best-in-class AI and natural language processing to identify provisions in documents. The platform was designed specifically to work with all forms of construction contracts, insurance policies, plans/drawings and specifications. It was “trained” by their curators, who specialize in managing these types of risks, to read and identify the provisions they typically look for when reviewing these documents. Document Crunch puts the power of their expertise and experience in its users’ hands for a fraction of the time and cost of traditional methods (hiring lawyers, long review processes, etc.).
This is possible because the AI platform can “learn” how to automatically identify, tag and extract relevant items the same way a human reviewer would. The technology isn’t perfect, but it provides an amazing tool for fast and efficient reviews. Document Crunch is a great way to conduct a “first pass” through a document for speed, as well as a “final pass” for accuracy, to confirm that nothing important was missed or changed before being executed. Document Crunch can also be used to conduct legacy/historical document reviews to identify the risks taken on by contractors over time (hello, underwriters!). Document Crunch is an extremely powerful tool to leverage the promise of big data and help inform future decision-making.
Learn more about this year’s IGI Start-Up Battle winner at www.DocumentCrunch.com, and view its Start-Up Battle video at www.tauc.org/dc.