In Founder Focus we introduce entrepreneurs and innovators working on our next generation of new business startups, social enterprises and small businesses.

At a glance

Founder: Christopher Staal

Business: EC8

Founded: 2019

HQ: Waikato

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

Imagine if building materials arrived on site pre-cut, ready to be installed. We’ve developed the technology to make this a reality starting with pre-cut drywall (plasterboard).

We’ve created an end-to-end solution: digital capturing of wall dimensions, processing software and large computerised cutting machines; reducing the time to cut each drywall sheet from 8min to 2min, slashing install times by days per build worldwide.

Other building technologies, like 3D printed housing, try to replace the builder. We believe a better way is to provide millions of existing builders with accessible automation tech, bringing their cost to build similar to factory-built houses. We’ve made our measuring gear inexpensive to be handed out on mass to builders for free. Our cutting equipment would be provided to builders’ existing material distributors like PlaceMakers or GIB in NZ, or Home Depot in the USA under a subscription model, so they can offer pre-cut services to their existing building clients. This is a great way to slot into the supply chain and is already done with items such as pre-nailed framing.

By using software to optimise material cutting we can reduce waste and error rates. Cutting in-factory enables recycling of 100% of material waste; as a result, no more drywall in building site skips, creating a sustainable solution for drywall waste.

We are doing trials of the equipment and aim for first revenue this year (2023).

What’s the backstory for your business idea?

There’s got to be a better way. Like most entrepreneurs this started with bashing my head against a wall, in this case drywall, trying to line my own house. Such a repetitive process, measure to place the order, measuring for dimensions and measuring again to mark the sheet (plus a 4th time when you cut the sheet 100mm short grrrr).

I’d always been a tinker with CNCs, 3D printers and Arduinos so I thought we can digitise the process.

After shifting back to NZ with my family from the UK, I started tinkering in the garage.

A few years later with a Callaghan Grant to keep my kids fed we had some cool digital measuring gear, software from a talented student and a giant 12m long CNC cutting machine made of plywood that stuck outside the garage.

We’ve grown up a bit since those days, have a swanky new factory, 4 staff and industrial quality machines and software that we’re very proud of.

What programmes, learning or mentoring have been of assistance so far?

  • We had some great assistance from Soda Inc in Hamilton putting us through two mentoring programs on startups, and funding.
  • We have also had multiple Callaghan Innovation Grants helping with the funding.
  • We have worked with a number of industry stakeholders for advice on the industry.


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