Procore founder Honored with 2020 Venky Entrepreneurship Award

Procore founder Craig “Tooey” Courtemanche wins 2020 Venky Entrepreneurship Award

By James Badham, UCSB The Current

There is no machine somewhere that cranks out successful entrepreneurs. While all share some traits — energy, tenacity and passion come to mind — they are equally original, as unique as the products and ideas they bring to market. 

Recipients of the Venky Narayanamurti Entrepreneurial Leadership Award from the UC Santa Barbara College of Engineering demonstrate this singular nature. The award is conferred annually on an individual who has demonstrated success and leadership in the Central Coast’s high-technology entrepreneurial community. This year’s winner, Craig “Tooey” Courtemanche, founder and chief executive officer of Carpinteria-based Procore, a construction management software company, is no exception.

“If you have an idea, the first thing to do is to literally go sit on the beach for a few days and think about your strengths and weaknesses,” Courtemanche said by way of advice to would-be entrepreneurs. “Examine who you are as a person, and don’t fool yourself.”

“On behalf of the UCSB College of Engineering, I offer sincere congratulations to Tooey Courtemanche for being named the recipient of the 2020 Venky Award,” said Dean Rod Alferness. “It takes immense courage, originality and energy to accept the challenge of steering one’s startup into largely uncharted entrepreneurial waters. Dean Venky understood that, and Tooey Courtemanche embodies it.”

Courtemanche — his first name is the same as his father’s, so he became “Craig, too,” which got turned into Tooey — first worked in construction and later became a software engineer. He founded Procore in 2002, growing it to over two thousand employees operating out of 14 offices around the world. More than 1 million construction projects have run on the Procore platform, which is used daily by more than 1.3 million people in over 125 countries. Courtemanche has been credited by Forbes magazine with building the Cloud’s hottest technology “unicorn” by bringing software to low-tech construction sites.

“We were born in the cloud in 2002, something I’m really proud of,” he said. “The whole concept of Procore has always been to connect everybody in construction on a platform. There was no way we were going to do that if every client had to have a server.

“But I knew how to deploy a cloud server — an ASP server, as it was known back in the day — and I knew how to create multi-tenancy [so that multiple users could work off one server simultaneously] — and it was something I was kind of passionate about,” Courtemanche continued. “It was a very new idea in the late nineties. I had seen it deployed in a company called Edify, and I thought, ‘What a novel way to work.’ It was also way less expensive to buy one computer than to buy multiple servers and databases and everything else.”  

When the company began, Courtemanche and Procore president, Steve Zahm, employee number two, who has now been with him for 15 years, would go to job sites to install internet Wi-Fi access points and routers so that the builders could use their software for $95 a month.

Now, 20 years later, Courtemanche has received the prestigious Venky Entrepreneurship Award. “I am tremendously honored,” he said. “I’ve lived in Santa Barbara for 20 years and have watched this award go to people I admire and look up to. For a guy who is a college dropout to receive this award is kind of mind-blowing to me. It is really a special honor.” 

“All of us at Technology Management congratulate Tooey Courtemanche on his well-deserved recognition,” said Dave Adornetto, entrepreneurship program executive director for the UCSB TM program. “Tooey is the ultimate entrepreneur, whose vision and leadership enabled Procore to successfully navigate the uncertainties of disruptive technology and emerge as one of the fastest-growing and largest employers on the Central Coast. Under Tooey’s guidance, Procore has contributed significantly to the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and has become a major draw for our certificate and Master of Technology Management graduates.”

Read more in UC Santa Barbara's The Current.