When an industry is called out in The Wall Street Journal, investors take notice. Last week, the Journal proclaimed that venture capitalists are “pouring money” into startups that leverage technology to make commercial and residential construction faster and easier.
Quoting from a recent report from research company CREtech, the Journal reported that investment in private contech firms increased from $352 million in 2016 to more than $6 billion in 2018. As of the end of June, investments totaled more than $4 billion, indicating that capital injections into contech in 2019 could surpass the $4 billion made in 2018.
While many contech companies — like modular construction firm Katerra, smart glass manufacturer View and construction management software provider Procore — have made national news for their massive funding rounds, several up-and-coming firms have, in recent months, received smaller investments that could be catalyzing for them.
eSUB Construction Software
In late May, eSUB Construction Software, a field data collection and project management platform for trade contractors, completed a $12 million funding round led by growth equity firm Catalyst Investors with participation from existing investor Revolution Ventures. The new capital will be used to scale all areas of the company and accelerate product development, the firm said.
eSUB's cloud-based product allows contractors from more than 30 different trades to optimize their labor in the field and share information with project stakeholders. The app leverages its integrations with investment partner Autodesk's BIM 360 and PlanGrid construction software, as well as construction estimating and accounting software, to deliver project delivery workflow from design through operations and accounting.
In June San Francisco-based Join received $4 million from investors including Signalfire, Building Ventures and Bolt, bringing its total funding to $5.2 million including a pre-seed round led by Bolt.
The platform aims to facilitate more effective working relationships among all parties involved in a construction project, including owners, contractors, designers, tradespeople and suppliers. It calculates trends throughout a project and allows stakeholders' decisions to be prioritized, assigned and analyzed.
Join will make use of the new money to bring on additional product development talent to help it set up for public launch of the platform to customers, according to TechCrunch.
Yesterday, the founders of a new construction platform for monitoring and building digitization, Avvir, announced that they had raised $2.5 million from Khosla Ventures partner Evan Moore with participation from Metaprop and Localglobe.
The Avvir platform leverages computer vision algorithms to compare laser scans and photographs captured onsite to model and then automatically update it. This "digital twin" can be used for construction monitoring purposes during the construction project and as a platform for building management once construction is complete.
The funding will enable Avvir to scale its engineering team as well as its sales in the U.S. and abroad, according to the firm. The product is the type of tech-related solution that investors are excited about, said Zak Schwarzman of MetaProp.
“Avvir is applying cutting-edge technology to solve a pervasive and expensive issue in the construction industry," he said in a press release.
In March, Ontario, Canada-based construction management software firm Bridgit completed a $7.75 million Series A round of funding led by BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Fund with participation from MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund, Innovation Grade Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, Sands Capital Ventures, StandUp Ventures, and Vanedge Capital. The women-owned company also received $750,000 in government funding through FedDev Ontario.
"This funding is in support of our growth as a company, but also of women-led innovation in Canada," said Tony Vlismas, head of marketing.
The company's two main programs, Bridgit Field and Bridgit Bench, are designed to simplify the process of managing construction workforce and planning projects and are in use on thousands of projects across Canada and the U.S., according to the firm.
Just a few weeks ago, another investor-fueled startup, Trelar, announced its product was ready to hit the market. Funded in part by a seed investment of $2.1 million led by Berlin-based Foundamental Capital, Trelar used the money to accelerate product development, bolster marketing initiatives and expand its team, according to Laith Dahiyat, chief product officer.
The Austin, Texas-based startup is expected to launch its app designed to provide contractors with on-demand dump truck services next week. Initially, the service will roll out on the West Coast and in South Florida. The firm is the latest in a series of startups aimed at the traditional dump truck rental service market.
“Trelar is uniquely positioned to disrupt a critical segment of the construction industry that has been underserved by modern, transparent marketplaces,” said Dahiyat in a release. “We’re ready to change that.”