New Service for Construction Industry Is Open for Business

Bidsters, a network for contractors, is ready and open for business

A new Tuscaloosa startup founded by a 2013 University of Alabama graduate that helps the construction industry easily advertise and manage the project bidding process is now in business.

Bidsters, the brainchild of Ben Bickerstaff, a native of Anniston, who graduated in civil engineering from UA's College of Engineering in December 2013, is an online interactive database that is designed to help large contractors submit competitive bids while helping subcontractors grow by finding more projects to bid. The company, found at www.bidstersusa.com, had its official launch on June 6.

"Bidsters will not change what the construction industry does, but it will give them a tool to more easily do what they already do," Bickerstaff said. "Bidsters gives users the ability to manage and interact with their already existing network, but it also gives them the opportunity to find new contacts outside of their established relationships."

Bidsters provides a simple user friendly interface to manage project bids. Through Bidsters, users can create a profile detailing their company, all trades performed, and current contact information. Bidsters also allows users to create and post projects for bid and search for sub-contractors to be used on the projects. Subsequently, users can easily aggregate their contacts and send out invitations to bid containing project details and documents. Users can easily respond to the invitations and submit their bid. Bidsters interface makes it very easy to organize each project and track bids for them.

Bickerstaff worked in the construction industry at a general contracting firm. His main duties were project estimating, distributing invitations to bid, and ensuring all invited subs had access to drawings. He developed Bidsters to eliminate the wasted time he observed first hand while in the industry.

Bidsters is affiliated with the University of Alabama, and it works closely with the Office of Technology Transfer for development. Bickerstaff works out of The Edge, a business incubator in downtown Tuscaloosa and a joint collaboration between the University, city of Tuscaloosa, and the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.

Bickerstaff entered the Bidsters concept into Alabama Launchpad, a statewide business competition for early stage businesses and startups. Bidsters entered the competition three times before finally winning. "The feedback and insight the judges provide after every round is invaluable. I always used it to hone the idea and develop a better business plan." said Bickerstaff. Bidsters was awarded $16,000 for winning on March 21, 2014. "The funds have helped Bidsters get to market and become a reality. Between the funds and the insight provided by the judges, participating in Launchpad was one of the best decisions I could have made to start a business."