Formwork Labs aims to create “YC building technology”

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Construction tech is one of those sectors that has historically not been considered “attractive” in the startup world, which often favors more brilliant technologies. But construction fuels the commercial and real estate industries, which in turn affects all of us in one way or another.

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Historically, the industry has been reluctant to embrace technology, but as generations have changed in leadership, this has gradually changed.

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Procore and Autodesk are two examples of construction businesses that have gone from start-up to publicly traded companies today. $6.2 billion and $40.5 billion, respectively. But besides these two companies, there are many others looking to break into the industry.

To help them do just that, one construction tech venture capitalist is looking to fund the next generation of startups in space. Brick and mortar enterprisesled by Darren Bechtel of the Bechtel family, teams up with Built worldswhich describes itself as a network of building and infrastructure professionals to launch an early stage acceleration program called Formwork laboratories.

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Simply put, the group’s ambition is for the program to become the “YC of building technology,” Bechtel said.

“Establishing the foundation after the superstructure is built is a costly, disruptive and sometimes impossible task,” Bechtel said. “Our goal with Formwork Labs is to help the best and brightest founders of building technology start on the right foot, set themselves up for success, and in front of the right investors, partners, and early adopters.”

First, Formwork Labs will select five preliminary companies to participate as a group in their immersive 10-week startup acceleration program. During the program, industry “experts” and former founders Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) space will provide participants with “strategic guidance” on product and go-to-market strategies, “preparing the company for success and future funding from leading venture capital firms.“, say the organizers.

“This will will actually be quite a difficult decision for the first cohort, but we hope to get non-construction entrepreneurs involved as well,” said Jack Ford, vice president of BuiltWorlds.

Each start-up company will also receive $75,000 in SAFE funding upon receipt of the money.spend as you wish” in exchange for 5% of the company.

Notably, Bechtel said Brick & Mortar Ventures could not pursue a funding round within six months of the program’s completion. But the firm is committed to investing up to 25% of the next round of qualified funding.

“Companies will be valued to the same standards and from the same perspective as investments from Brick & Mortar Ventures,” said Alice Leung, the firm’s vice president of platform and product strategy. “We won’t be as strict on customer feedback, but we need access to customer feedback and pilot projects.”

“We hear from early stage companies that theynt access to customer reviews. They need access to pilot projects,” she told TechCrunch. “So much of the Formwork Labs program will give those entrepreneurs access.”

The accelerator will culminate in a demo day during BuiltWorlds. Americas Summit 2022 in September 2022, where program participants will present their products to “investors and innovators in the construction industry.” Founders can apply to participate in the program here.

Matthew Gray, BuiltWorlds Executive Chairmansaid tthere are still “many, many areas” in the tech stack and across the tech stack where the industry still has pain points and where “they don’t have solutions they’re happy with, or they don’t have solutions at all.”

“So it goes to show that there are still a lot of gaps for those who think about the opportunities in this sector,” he told TechCrunch.

Bechtel agrees, noting that Brick & Mortar often runs into companies that are too early for his firm to support.

“We are combing the desert around the world seeing great investment opportunities, but access to VC dollars for outside US investors is really difficult,” he said. “So we are providing a forum where we can introduce some people working on big problems who have good initial ideas in terms of product and solution to a group of investors who have already shown interest in the emerging building technology sector. “.

Bechtel and Brick & Mortar together have invested in 40 construction-related technology start-ups over the past 10 years, beginning with Bechtel’s 2012 investment in PlanGrid’s seed funding round. Since then, they have had 12 exits, including PlanGrid, Levelset, Fieldwire and BuildingConnected, which are considered some of the largest mergers and acquisitions in the history of venture capital-backed construction software startups. The first Brick & Mortar Venture fund was Capital investment of $97.2 million supported by 12 construction companies. In 2021, the firm filed an application that it sought to attract $150 million in new capital.

Earlier this year, in a similar agreement, Omers Ventures teamed up with Turner Construction to Create Resident Entrepreneur program this would serve as an incubator for the founders to prepare them to launch their new building technology software companies.

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