Technology Entrepreneurship Abie Award
Tracy Young is the co-founder and former CEO of PlanGrid, the leader in mobile construction management software.
Under Tracy’s leadership and vision, PlanGrid grew from a small startup in 2011 to a construction industry leader with more than 400 employees and 1.5 million construction projects in over 90 countries. In this period of growth, Tracy oversaw the corporate direction and strategy of the company, focusing on leadership, technological innovation, and customers.
PlanGrid’s mission was to build simple, beautiful software that construction teams found easy and enjoyable to use, while addressing the challenges of the $13 trillion global construction industry. PlanGrid is now a widely used cloud-based platform and has transformed field-document handling. PlanGrid raised $69 million in funding before being acquired by Autodesk for $875 million in 2018.
Prior to founding PlanGrid, Tracy spent four years in the construction industry. During her time as a project engineer, she oversaw mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection trades on several hospital projects.
Tracy Young co-founded PlanGrid in 2011 to bridge the gap between great software and the construction industry. PlanGrid was the first software solution built from the ground up for construction workers in the field.
Despite the industry’s importance in the world economy, it has seen a decrease in productivity in the last 50 years. This is a result of several key challenges — the industry never experienced a technological transformation; document control and distribution are too slow; communications and decisions are siloed and bureaucratic; and field teams do not have consistent access to the information needed to build. PlanGrid’s mission was to solve these problems.
Tracy believes that construction is the infrastructure of our world; and humanity will not be able to deliver the housing, road improvements, new facilities, and utility upgrades needed unless the industry becomes more productive.
PlanGrid holds several patents for its technology and invented software features such as automatic version control of blueprints, automatic sheet naming, automatic detail call-out referencing, and automatic submittals log to help construction teams save time and deliver projects more reliably.
After the acquisition by Autodesk, Tracy was part of the leadership team that formed Autodesk Construction Solutions.
Mentorship and Inclusive Hiring Practices
Tracy believes that she could not have built PlanGrid over the years without all the help and support she received along the way, and now pays it forward by advising technology startups she funded through Coyote (her family office), Sequoia Scouts, and YCombinator, where she visited as a Partner in Winter 2020.
She also serves as an independent Board Director at a technology company called Drone Deploy. Aside from technology, talent management, and cash flow management decisions, she believes that a major part of the entrepreneur’s and technology CEO’s job is to bring humanity and vulnerability into the workplace. These are the areas she pushes and provides advice to CEOs and founders.
Under her leadership inside PlanGrid (prior to acquisition), 40% of the PlanGrid’s board of directors and approximately 40% of director-level and above team members were women.
All of PlanGrid’s interviewers and managers were also trained on unconscious bias. PlanGrid’s Diversity and Inclusion Council (D&I) and six employee resource groups (ERGs) focused on creating inclusive and safe environments for real conversations were so impactful that they became the D&I council and ERGs for Autodesk Construction Solutions Unit.
Tracy was a construction engineer prior to becoming a tech founder and saw first-hand how the industry suffers from a massive lack of diversity. Through PlanGrid as the sponsoring brand, dozens of Women In Construction Engineering communities have been built across the US, which pushes construction companies to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for women.
The Abie Award Selection Committee commended Tracy for:
— Building a highly successful company that disrupted two male-dominated industries — construction and technology.
— Actively seeking opportunities to make PlanGrid and the construction industry an inclusive space for all.
Tracy is an inspiration to women, founders, and entrepreneurs everywhere — and is an example that no industry should be inaccessible to someone based on gender.
Tracy In 2020:
Tracy has been on stage at the Female Founders Conference, Costanoa Ventures “Seat at the Table” event, Stanford Women in Entrepreneurship Summit, and the Building Leadership Women's Forum, and the San Francisco Public Utility Commission's 6th Annual Women in Construction Expo in 2019. Tracy has also spoken at Techonomy, Salesforce Dreamforce, and SaaStr, and is a guest lecturer on university campuses.
Tracy has been recognized by Forbes Top 50 Women in Tech, 2018; ENR (Engineering News-Record) Top 25 Newsmakers, 2018; London Business School People’s Choice Award “Harnessing Winds of Change”, 2018; Named a Top 50 SaaS CEO by The SaaS Report, 2018; Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, 2018; “Maven Award” by construction industry leader BuiltWorlds, 2018; Construction Dive Awards – Rising Star of the Year, 2017; Fast Company Most Creative People in Business, 2015.
Tracy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Construction Engineering Management from California State University at Sacramento.
Learn about the Technology Entrepreneurship Abie Award.