In recent years, the built world has witnessed an unsurpassed amount of discussion about driving step change improvement. With some of the brightest minds in the world developing bold new solutions to age-old problems, the value of transformative thinking and decision-making has never been higher. At BuiltWorlds, we recognize how critical a role leadership plays in driving the industry beyond incremental improvements. The Mavericks is our attempt to honor those leaders, and, now more than ever, we are excited to announce our 2021 list of Maverick Awards winners! This list highlights 50 individuals who have acted as trendsetters, innovative thinkers, and catalysts of change in their respective fields. From architects and entrepreneurs to industry leaders, technologists to investors, and those developing both off-site fabrication and on-site robotics, we have identified boundary-pushers from leading companies around the world, and across the built environment's vast ecosystem. We hope you enjoy reading about them as much as we did!
Want to learn more about the Mavericks and their organizations? Just click on their company name to find them in our company directory and see all the analysis we've provided about them. Many of the Mavericks are also members of the BuiltWorlds Network and you can also find out more about them and connect with them in our Member Directory
Jean Brownhill is an architect who embraced technology by founding a startup called Sweeten with a goal of helping people "renovate fearlessly." It is a bold goal, as renovation projects are often much trickier and less predictable than new construction. She has raised more than $12 million, so far, and so she may be on to a segment of construction that tens to draw less interest than new construction or maintenance but is a very significant portion of total work.
From Senior Project Manger at Foulger Pratt, Sunil Dorairajan rose in 2015 to CEO of Pype one of the industry's first applications to make use of text recognition to automate generation of bills of materials, an area that would prove to be a key pain point in project management processes. Pype was acquired by Autodesk in 2020, where he is now a senior director of construction strategy.
When he presented at our Buildings Conference back in 2018, the idea of a tenant experience platform was pretty novel. With a recently closed $60 million funding round and some heavy hitting investors, tenant experience management is clearly no longer a thing of speculation.
Karim Helal, Co-Founder, and CEO of ProTenders launched the platform in 2011, rolling out the first feature of e-Tendering. Working for his family business, Karim realized the need for a seamless tendering process that was secure and efficient. While the rest of the industries have adopted and embraced technology in all aspects of business, the construction industry was slow-paced on that front.
Co-Founder of leading construction resource management platform, bridgit, Lauren Lake holds a degree in Civil Structural Engineering, won the top prize at Google Demo Day, was named in the TechWeek 100 list of entrepreneurs, was added to the Forbes Manufacturing & Industry 30 Under 30, and was named to the Best Of Canada Forbes Under 30 Innovators list. To top it off, Autodesk made a strategic investment in the company in 2020.
2020 was a big year for Havard Haukeland and his team at Oslo, Norway-area-based, urban site planning software company, Spacemaker.ai, and his team. Leveraging artificial intelligence to aid in the site planning and development process, Spacemaker.ai netted $240 million from Autodesk for the software company. This is even more remarkable when considering the company was founded only four years earlier, in 2016. It also marks a rate cross-ocean acquisition in the industry.
Sheila Matuscak's stands out for the depth of her career as a leader in the commercial real estate industry and also as an early leader in emerging proptech. She was already a fast-rising star at commercial real estate leader, JLL when she grabbed a top spot at what might arguably be seen as a much earlier prototype for WeWork, launched more than a decade prior to WeWork's founding. Now, with her own startup, she is again plying her considerable experience to remaking the field.
The Smart Buildings Sector is hot, and, with more than 60 million square feet under management, Facilio is one of the hottest players in the space. A graduate of the University of Madras, India, Prabhu Ramachandran founded and led Facilio to its size in the span of just over four years.
Bolstered by heightened interest in smart building tech in the wake of the onset of the Covid pandemic, James Segil's smart security solutions company has been riding high. In July of 2020, the firm announced an added $36 million in funding. They have stacked up so many awards, Segil audibly sighed on news of a recent award. Guess this will be one more opportunity for one more sigh, James.
We first met Thru Shivakumar back in 2014 when she was leading "strategy 8" to reinvent Chicago's infrastructure and as she was at working founding Current, a non-for-profit centered on "water tech." It was clear she had a strong foundation in business and finance and a passion for innovation. In 2018, she became CEO of smart building tech company, cohesion, where she has landed key projects and, in 2020, landed a $6.5 million Series A round to further the company's growth.
With an early investment from major industry players in the region as well as Silicon Valley-based venture funds, WakeCap is one of the first major players to emerge on the global construction tech scene from the UAE/Saudi Region. We expect to see more, but we tip the hat to Ishita Kochhar and her fellow colleagues for their early, big moves in bringing the region together with the industry's broader innovation ecosystem.
An early member of the team of engineers working on Google-x spinoff, flux, Zukoski saw the vast potential for exponentially better planning tools for the industry, leveraging data in a new way so that the industry could make better and more informed decisions. Then, in 2017, he branched out and founded a new software company, Join, to make that vision a reality. He has since garnered his own impressive roster of investors and backers, and we know there is much more to come from him and his team.
If BuiltWorlds is a bridge connecting technologists and industry professionals from around the world, Guillaume Bazouin is the bridge that connects the French ecosystem to the American ecosystem and beyond. Educated and Stanford and leading one of the most significant French Accelerators, Leonard, by Vinci, Bazouin has been a tireless supporter and powerful ally for industry startups at home in his native France and around the world.
It was our pleasure to host Bethany Gardner on an Analyst Call late last year, after naming her to our Adopters List. With that presentation, it was evident to us how significant her move to join our industry was. Hailing from outside of the industry, she has bravely jumped into the rare position of being responsible for making the software powering America's largest Engineering and Construction Company work better and be more user-friendly for its people and customers.
As Director of Innovation at MACE, Matt Gough helped lead one of the industry's most interesting modularization and prefabrication efforts. Last year, we had the privilige of seeing how a six-story building could be built via a "top down construction method," placing a "factory" on top of the building.
To say that Israel's Built World tech scene is hot is an understatement, and one reason it is so hot is the uniquely strong partnership between government and private enterprise. Hilla Haddad is one of the key players at the center of that ecosystem. Autonomy, sensors, reality capture, and AI technology are just some of the areas where this tiny country is leading the world, as evidenced by the fact that players from Autodesk to Blackstone have set up shop there to plug into the market.
Having taken a leadership role in driving diversity and inclusion within his organization and in the broader industry, creating one of the first bona fide diversity and inclusion groups in the industry, he has more recently set out to tackle jobsite safety, making a commitment to aggressive implementation of multiple technologies across the firm to enhance safety performance. This is the type of leadership that can help advance tech and also the industry.
Positioned along-side Stanley Ventures and fostering breakthrough innovations such as FLEXVOLT, ATOMIC, and XTREME Stanley X was introduced to serve as the "public face" of innovation for this $33 billion market cap company. In 2018, Michael Keogh moved to Stanley Black & Decker to become president of Stanley X, after a successful career at Apple and Intel.
Clarence McAllister, PE
Graduating Summa Cum Laude with a degree in electrical engineering from ASU, Clarence McAllister founded his own construction management business, became chief engineer of a 3D concrete printing startup, and now also serves as Chairman of the Board of an Arizona rare earth minerals mining company. He was also past president of the YPO Construction Industry Network (A BuiltWorlds Strategic Partner) and more.
Through a $10 million gift from the Moss Foundation, Moss is helping build Florida International University into a top-ranked construction program with a tech-forward agenda, as evidenced by a recent partnership with Trimble focused on technology for sustainability and infrastructure.
From mass timber to modularization to emerging technology, sustainability and affordable housing, we have found few top leaders of large engineering and construction companies who have personally committed themselves so extensively to progress in the industry.
Little question that Europe is ahead of the United States in carbon reduction efforts. In that light, it is also not surprising that one of Europe's largest builders would make the circular economy a prime focus, but in the area of mass timber, Bouygues stands out with the establishment of a whole new group, WeWood, focused specifically on the mass timber market, and Yohan Sberro is responsible for the development of this effort.
Global Head of Innovation
Leading one of the world's biggest insurance companies' innovation arm, Sara Shank has served as board advisor to at least a half dozen of the real estate world's most successful startups.
INFLUENCE & EDUCATION
Workplace innovation and Construction
While working as a project controls specialist at Arcadis, Brittanie Campbell-Turner founded Constructrr, a podcast and media company focused on driving innovation in the built environment. She was an early and powerful voice in the current push for the industry's digital transformation. Today, she is also Manager of Workplace Innovation and Construction at American Family Insurance.
In European proptech circles, Julia Arlt is seemingly everywhere. Beyond her role as Global Digital Real Estate Leader for PWC, she is co-founder of Future Place in Australia, a mentor for New York-based Meta Prop Accelerator, Board Advisor for Warsaw-based SpaceOS, Co-founder and head of partnerships for the Austrian Prop Tech Initiative, and on and on.
In the early 1990s, Professor Ray Krizek took a risk and launched an innovative program at Northwestern providing executives in the AEC field a curriculum that encompasses both business and technical skills and looks holistically at the management of buildings and infrastructure projects. Since that time, the program has grown significantly, spawned a second program, and built an impressive roster of adjunct professors who are also working professionals and alumni from all around the globe (including Yohann Sberro who is also on this year's List.)
Conversations about the circular economy have tended to be difficult to have in US Proptech circles. Historically, the interest just hasn't been as broad-based as other topics. However, Kyle Bolden has taken a leadership role in a major organization in bringing the topic to the fore at its most opportune moment, tying together implications relating to investment, operations, development, and construction as well as linking the smart building community to carbon footprint reduction efforts. The result is a broad canvas and possibly an opportunity to galvanize the greater real estate community around the issues in a much more robust way than in the past.
Concrete has become a central player in the industry's drive for innovation, on a number of fronts. Leaving a top position at AECOM, Ann Ellis has become a focal leader in that drive for innovation for the world's most commonly used building material.
The "Queen of Prefab," Amy Marks has notched an impressive career around the growing market for prefabrication in the industry. With ten years of experience at construction companies, she added another ten years experience as CEO of Xsite Modular, a modular construction consulting business, and, last year, became Head of Industrialized Construction Strategy and Evangelism at Autodesk. Presumably with the backing of that more than $50 billion market cap business, we will see alot more of Amy Marks in the years to come.
Beyond her business acumen in leading the turnaround and eventual sale of major building products company USG and the also becoming CEO of UL. It is not surprising that, among other things at UL, she has supported a well building certification effort. Jen Scanlon has been a long-standing and tireless advocate for progress in the building industry as well as, well, generally. She led USG into early support of green building efforts, and she has also been a strong supporter of efforts to broaden the industry's talent pool by finding ways to create more opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds to gain better access to work opportunities in the industry.
From eight years at Skanska, Stacy Smedley last year took the leap into tech company leadership, as well, joining Building Transparency, a non-profit startup software business incubated with the help of the venerable Pankow Institute and some major industry backers (including Skanska), to transform the way we plan and the building products and materials we use for a lower carbon footprint.
If you feel like Israel, with a tiny population of just 9 million people is over-represented on our Mavericks list this year, we would ask that you take a closer look at the facts. The breadth and depth of Built World startups coming from this small country in just the past few years is unsurpassed on a per capita basis by anyplace else we have studied with the possible exception of Silicon Valley. As CEO of Infralab, a leader among Israel's multiple Construction and Infrastructure-oriented startup accelerators, Yogev Katzir has occupied a central role in fostering this ecosystem, bringing tech entrepreneurs, big tech, big industry, and government together in a way that other cities and countries around the world have talked about but not actually matched.
A serial entrepreneur with a strong commercial real estate background, Aaron Block launched Meta Prop as a Prop Tech Accelerator in New York back in 2014. He was ahead of the curve. Boston and the Bay Area were much busier places for Venture and Industry-Focused tech at the time, but New York's vast commercial real estate and finance community was not to be outdone. The area has made enormous strides since that time, and, by virtue of his passion, commitment, and early moves, Aaron has taken center stage.
Before Hakell's Dyruptek, Suffolk's Boost Program, or Vinci's Leonard, or Cemex Ventures or Ironspring or even Building Ventures, Silicon Valley-based DPR had created WND Ventures, and Eric Lamb has served as managing partner since the beginning. In addition to being a "first mover," WND Ventures has been an active player in the market, incubating and investing in more than a dozen industry startups.
In the industry's strategic investing landscape, few have made such a big mark so early in their career as Ben Price has made since joining Saint Gobain's investment arm, Nova. Recently recognized by Greenbiz as one of 30 under 30, Price has led Saint Gobain, a major established industry player, into a premier spot among the industry's strategic investors.
Managing Partner for REACH Australia and Southeast Asia, Australian-based, Shelli Trung extends her proptech reach across a vast territory, earning recognition for her work throughout the region. Backed by Second Century Ventures and the National Association of REALTORS, she has ties to more than one hundred proptech startups around the globe.
It has been a big year for this ex-McKinsey & Co engagement manager. His work has helped this major player in construction power tools and fasteners amp up its product mix with exciting initiatives including acquisition of concrete sensors, a launch of a new ekso skeleton, a new construction robot, and also a joint venture with Trimble to promote further development of positioning technology in concert with project management and field productivity tech.
Stanford professor turned venture capitalist, Ray Levitt's industry leadership spans, well, how about we just say it spans decades. He was academic director for Stanford University's Advanced Project Management Program from 1999 to 2017, and he now serves as operating partner of Blackhorn Ventures, a fund with investments in more than a dozen building and infrastructure technology companies, making Blackhorn one of the sector's most active early-stage investors of recent years.
From her position in as Product Manager of Inventor, piping routing software, to her current position as Executive Vice President of Autodesk's entire portfolio of AEC Design software, Amy Bunszel has been instrumental in making the AEC sector a dominant part of Autodesk's business and propelling growth that has resulted in an AEC technology company with a market capitalization that is currently north of $50 billion. From a 2003 perspective, it is simply a staggering accomplishment.
Out of more than 700,000 construction companies in the United States, almost none match Mortenson for the scope of commitment to early tech adoption. It was back in 1995 that Mortenson established its Center for Construction Innovation to examine ways that 3d modeling and other technologies could influence the industry, a time when few in the industry even knew anything about BIM. For the past 15 years, Ricardo Kahn has been at the Vanguard of the firm's efforts to build on that early lead.
A career with Autodesk spanning forty years, Jim Quanci has been a tireless champion for the development of a community of AEC-oriented technologists. Most notably, he has been a staunch supporter of hackathons of various stripes (including our own BuiltWorlds Hackathon) and their potential for bringing together industry players, technologists, students, and others to collaborate on new ways to leverage technology to address industry pain points.
Global CIO and Chief Digital Officer
CUSHMAN & WAKEFIELD
Assuming leadership positions championing emerging technology in commercial real estate with board positions at Cretech and 1871, Adam Stanley has also been a champion of progress around humans in the industry. So, it's maybe not surprising that he may be the first-ever CIO and CHRO in the history of major American businesses. People talk a lot about human-centered design but rarely do we see that expression manifested in combining HR and Digital leadership in an organization the size of Cushman & Wakefield.
Practicing across the spectrum of design and construction roles, prdoucing research, overseeing smart cities projects, and most recently landing a role as Director of Transformation Services at Microsoft, Salla Eckhardt has traced a impressive career arc, not only for the depth of her commitment to digital innovation, but also to the breadth of the scope of her activities.
Over the years, Trimble has consistently been at the industry's forefront in anything evolving geospatial relations, and in today's world of mixed reality-leveraging tech and autonomy, that area of exploration is increasingly critical. Across Trimble's considerably deep bench of tech talent, Aviad Almagor has stood out for his work with heavy-hitting robotics firm, Boston Dynamics as well as in the high potential area of mixed reality.
Hailing from Warsaw, Poland, Anna Walkowska is representative of the fascinating built world ecosystem that has emerged in central and eastern Europe and is now expanding more broadly around the globe. Founder and CTO of four year-old ProperGate, a play in the fast-emerging materials management sector, Walkowska is now helping expand the business to Canada and beyond.
From his early years at IBM to his time as the first Chief Digital Officer of the City of Chicago to his startup experience launching PositiveEnergy to his time as an independent consultant, John Tolva has consistently pushed the Smart Cities conversation forward. With last year's $240 million acquisition of Spacemaker.AI (see above), we especially felt it appropriate to tip our hat to the first person who, back in 2014, introduced us to the potential of parametric and data analytics to help us plan smarter, more energy efficient, and lower carbon footprint developments.