Based in Wichita, the construction software startup Grit Virtual is using virtual reality models to help plan construction schedules and prioritize labor workflows in the field. The contech company’s product – dubbed “Grit” by its industry veteran founder Chris Callen – is geared at projects of more than $10M in capex.

Here’s how Grit works. At the start of a project, users (who at this point will primarily be general contractors) can walk through a VR model and identify the resources and tasks they’ll need in order to complete the job on time and on budget. The software plans tasks sequentially for teams in the field while daily tasks and updates are fed into the software.

Algorithms then continuously update the schedule and workflows based on weather, site conditions, and other issues that may crop up during the course of a project. A user dashboard also shows the VR model and also groups daily tasks by how critical they are to maintaining the schedule and budget.

“Think of it as crowd-sourcing information from the entire construction team,” Callen told the Wichita Star in a recent piece reporting on the construction tech startup, comparing the product to a ground-up construction scheduling tool versus traditional “top-down,” command-and-control types of models, like a Gantt chart. The product was part of a pilot program on an apartment building project along the Arkansas River in Wichita, and has also been used by Kansas City’s McCownGordon Construction firm.

Recently, Grit Virtual announced $840K in an oversubscribed seed funding round from a group of Kansas-based investors, including TechStar KC, Network Kansas, and executive leadership at Manhattan, Kansas-based Hi-Tech Interiors.

Analysis from AEC Labs:

The discussion on Grit Virtual’s website is interesting, comparing the tools used today in the modern construction industry – from BIM to digital blueprints – to Henry Ford’s “people want a faster horse” way of describing the fledgling automobile industry. The construction industry has a lot of technology at its fingertips but also needs a better way of getting from A to B; many on the ground simply don’t know what’s available to them.

For that reason, and at the end of the day, it’s not as simple as giving the industry lots of cool new tools, but driving behavior and a shift in cultural paradigm, which from our perspective here in the trenches of the AEC industry will continue to be much harder than it sounds.

But products like Grit Virtual – and the host of others that we have discussed here at AEC Labs in 2018 – will be critical in pushing the industry to adopt new ways of doing things. And that will ultimately be dispositive for narrowing the productivity gap and – increasingly – labor shortages that are plaguing projects around the country.