Formwork Labs aims to build “the YC of construction technology” – TechCrunch

Construction technology is one of those industries that has historically not been considered “sexy” in a startup world that often favors the glitziest technologies. But construction fuels the commercial and real estate industries, which affects us all in one way or another.

Historically, the industry has been reluctant to embrace the technology, but as there have been generational shifts in leadership, this has slowly changed.

Procore and Autodesk are two examples of companies in the construction industry that have gone from start-ups to publicly traded companies that are worth today $6.2 billion and $40.5 billion, respectively. But beyond these two companies, there are dozens of others eager to break into the industry.

To help them, a venture capital firm focused on construction technology is eager to fund a new generation of startups in the space. Brick and Mortar Companiesled by Darren Bechtel of the Bechtel family, partners with Constructed worldswhich describes itself as a network of building and infrastructure professionals, to launch an early acceleration program called Formwork laboratories.

Simply put, the group aims for the program to become the “YC of construction technology,” Bechtel said.

“Repairing a foundation after the superstructure has been built is an expensive, disruptive and sometimes impossible task,” Bechtel said. “Our goal with Formwork Labs is to help the best and brightest building technology founders get started on the right foot, set up for success, and in front of the right investors, partners, and early customers.”

To get started, Formwork Labs will select five pre-seed companies to participate as a cohort in its immersive 10-week startup accelerator program. During the program, industry “experts” and former founders of the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) will provide attendees with “strategic guidance” on product and go-to-market strategy, “while preparing the company for success and future funding from top-tier venture capital firms“, specify the organizers.

“It’s okay actually be quite a difficult decision for this first cohort, but we hope to encourage contractors outside of the construction industry to participate as well,” said Jack Forde, Vice President of BuiltWorlds.

Each startup will also receive $75,000 in SAFE post-money funding”to spend as he pleases” in exchange for 5% of the company.

Notably, Bechtel said Brick & Mortar Ventures is not allowed to conduct a funding round within six months of program completion. But the company will commit to investing up to 25% of the next round of qualified funding.

“Companies will be evaluated by the same standards and objectives as an investment by Brick & Mortar Ventures,” said Alice Leung, vice president of platform and product strategy for the firm. “We won’t be as strict about customer feedback, but we will want access to customer feedback and pilots.”

“We hear from start-up companies that they want access to customer feedback. They want access to pilot projects,” she told TechCrunch. “So a big part of the Formwork Labs program is going to be providing access to those entrepreneurs.”

The accelerator will end with a demo day at BuiltWorlds American Summit 2022 in September 2022, where program participants will showcase their products to “construction industry investors and innovators.” Founders can apply for the program here.

Matthew Gray, Executive Chairman of BuiltWorldsyou saidthere are still “many, many areas” within the tech stack and across the tech stack where the industry still has pain points and where “they don’t have solutions that satisfy them, or they don’t have no solutions at all.”

“So that suggests that for someone who is maybe looking at an opportunity in this industry, there’s still a tremendous amount of white space,” he told TechCrunch.

Bechtel agrees, noting that Brick & Mortar often comes across businesses that are too young for his company to support.

“We’re scouring the desert around the world, seeing great investment opportunities, but accessing venture capital dollars is really difficult for investors outside the United States,” he said. “So we’re providing a forum where we can get some of the people working on big issues who have good initial ideas from a product and solution standpoint in front of a group of investors who have already shown interest in the emerging building technology. .”

Bechtel individually and Brick & Mortar combined have invested in 40 construction-related technology startups over the past 10 years, beginning with Bechtel’s 2012 investment in PlanGrid’s seed funding round. They’ve since had 12 exits, including PlanGrid, Levelset, Fieldwire and BuildingConnected — considered to be among the biggest venture capital-backed construction software startup M&A exits in history. Brick & Mortar Venture’s first fund totaled $97.2 million in committed capital with support from 12 construction-related companies. In 2021, the company filed a disclosure it sought to raise $150 million in new capital.

Earlier this year, in a similar deal, Omers Ventures partnered with Turner Construction to create an Entrepreneur-in-Residence program which would serve as an incubator for the founders to prepare them to launch their new construction technology software companies.

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