I always enjoy working on various kinds of “top 5” posts at the end of each blogging year and, although AEC Labs took a bit of a hiatus during the spring and summer months this time around, we thought it would be fun to highlight what we think were the five most important construction industry tech startups that we covered here in 2017. (We’re also committing to increasing our coverage of the contech space in 2018 with a more regular posting schedule and original content about the state of the industry from our perspective in the AEC trenches.)
In any event, we’ve selected the following group of startups for a variety of reasons, including the technology they’ve implemented and the role we think the problems they’re addressing will play across the AEC industry in 2018 and beyond. So, without further ado, here they are, in no particular order:
Serious Labs: Early in the fall, the Edmonton-based virtual reality construction equipment trainer closed a $6.4M round of Series A funding from a group that included the Bechtel-backed venture capital firm Brick & Mortar Ventures (which seemed to be involved in almost all of the funding deals that we covered at AEC Labs in 2017, and probably deserves its own specific mention in this article). We think this is an important startup because we see 2018 as being a big year for augmented and virtual reality within construction. (It’s also worth noting that industry giant AECOM seems to agree, signing a deal with Taiwanese firm HTC to develop AEC industry-specific content for the Vive Focus VR headset.)
ManufactOn: Boston-based construction software startup ManufactOn announced a $2.5M Series A round of funding, led once again by Brick & Mortar Ventures. ManufactOn is a SaaS platform that helps construction firms plan, track, and manage both prefabrication and regular material handling. Next year, we expect tech to continue removing friction from project delivery mechanisms through prefabrication, off-site assembly, and more precise material handling – all of which startups like ManufactOn, Blokable, and Module are aiming for.
UnEarth: We wrote about Seattle-based UnEarth last year after its $1.6M Series A round; its product aims to help construction project teams get better informed about what’s happening in the field in real time in order to prevent schedule and cost impacts before they happen, using a combination of drones, remote sensors, and Internet of Things principles to centralize communications between field and the home office. It launched in early 2017 to fanfare in a variety of important broader Seattle tech circles.
Built: in November, the Nashville-based construction lending startup announced a $21M infusion of venture capital from San Francisco’s Index Ventures and Nyca out of New York City. Built’s online platform aims to improve the construction loan process for both residential and commercial construction. We think 2018 will see an increased number of startups that deliberately blur the line between construction tech, fintech, insurtech, and other disciplines that underpin the AEC industry.
EquipmentShare: a Missouri-based startup taking aim at the $50 billion North American equipment rental market by building analytics tools to help contractors manage their fleets more efficiently. Calling itself the construction industry’s answer to Airbnb, the startup raised $26M in a Series B round during the first quarter of 2017. The Internet of Things and the sharing economy in general have long boasted much promise for the AEC world, and 2018 could be the year that those technologies take a much deeper root in the industry.
Happy New Year! We’re looking forward to a great year here at AEC Labs! See you in 2018.