As part of our Construction Tech Conference coverage, our analyst team has written summaries of each of our forum meetings that took place at our pre-event programming. Read below for more information on what the Chicago Forum, Venture Forum, and E&C Technology Adoption Forum discussed in their July meetings.
In anticipation of the 2022 Construction Technology Conference in Chicago’s Fulton Market, a group of 30 individuals met as part of the Chicago Forum. Being the first of BuildWorlds’ four Pre-Conference events, this marked the second in-person meeting of the Chicago Forum since its inception. Considering its youth, Eveart Foster, Director of Technology Adoption here at BuiltWorlds, discussed the Forum's central goal—examining the startup network in Chicago and identifying, and hopefully resolving, some of the bottlenecks these companies may face. With the help of this Forum, startups in the ecosystem will be well-equipped to disrupt the status-quo of the construction technology industry and promote positive change.
Following the introduction to the Forum, Eveart passed the mic to Evan Shy of P33 Chicago, a non-profit focused on driving inclusive growth for Chicago’s tech sector. In line with the Chicago Forum’s intentions, Evan spoke on P33’s main initiatives which revolve around assisting entrepreneurs and startups in finding funding and growing their networks. According to Shy, facilitating these meetings via VC/Desk, P33’s initiative designed to connect investors with startups, ultimately lead to a second meeting 45% of the time as opposed to more ‘traditional’ meetings. Between forming connections and finding funding, an overarching objective Evan discussed is raising awareness about these budding entrepreneurs and startups.
Rounding off the Chicago Forum meeting, the final segment was led by Dave Hettinger, founder and principal at Entropy. Dave, one of the pioneers of the Chicago Forum, opened his discussion with a brief explanation of the baseline report he is in the process of creating. In the report, Dave aims to cast a wide and comprehensive net of roughly 200 emerging tech companies in Illinois. This report will deliver key insights to the Forum and broader BuiltWorlds network regarding startups in the Chicago area which can lead to invaluable exposure for these growing companies. Further, the report will be organized in a way that will allow companies to gravitate toward what they are most interested in and confirm or deny their understanding of who is operating within the construction tech industry.
BuiltWorlds held its monthly Venture Forum meeting Tuesday afternoon, July 12th, in a slate of pre-conference events ahead of the annual Construction Tech Conference. The forum was kicked off by VP of BuiltWorlds, Jack Forde, introducing new venture forum member CRH Ventures, and new Director of Venture Investments on the BuiltWorlds team, Daniel Laboe. Over the subsequent 45 minutes, Dan presented to the group highlights from the Q2 Venture Report Presentation titled, “The Ground Floor of the Future”. Though economic turmoil is imminent, the private markets showed some determination and reliance during Q2 with deal count increasing from Q1 and Pre-Seed through Series A gaining the most traction.
Sustainability was a topic of free-flowing discussion throughout, with the Venture Forum members and Founder of BuiltWorlds, Matt Gray, engaging Dan and his specialty breakdown of venture investments with numerous questions and one-off conversations. 21% of all venture deals closed in Q2 included a startup company whose main focus was sustainability oriented. Greater than 50% of all companies who received funding included an aspect of sustainability somewhere in their mission statement or core values.
The meeting also took a turn towards comparing the public and venture markets where the public markets saw a shift towards shorter duration investments (cash flow now) but the venture investments remained longer duration focused (cash flows years down the road).
The top investor of the quarter, Fifth Wall, and of the last three years, Brick & Mortar Ventures, also received plenty of air time as they are now competing with strategic Corporate VCs (CVCs) for ownership of the latest emerging technology companies. Many Venture Forum members are huge, name-brand, AEC companies (think EllisDon, Graycor, Thornton Tomasetti), that have strategic venture arms engaging the newest technologies that will change the sector 5-10 years down the road.
The BuiltWorlds Venture Forum will host its next meeting, virtually, on August 9th and then during pre-conference events on September 6th at the Americas Summit located at the Willis Tower in Chicago.
As part of the pre-events for the 2022 Construction Tech Conference in Chicago, the E&C Technology Adopters Forum met to discuss new technology trends within the industry. Eveart Foster, BuiltWorlds’ Director of Technology Adoption, headed the conversation with a detailed examination of Progress Documentation and Reality Capture as well as a presentation of the BuiltWorlds Benchmarking Program as a whole.
Progress Documentation and Reality Capture is widely praised within the field for its relatively quick return on investment. As a result, companies in this area are very well funded because they provide computer vision to a space that desperately needs it. These technologies allow workers to capture areas and conditions of the jobsite that the human eye cannot. This benefits contractors by decreasing error and preventing potential rework.
The Forum’s discussion of Progress Documentation and Reality Capture included a collaborative demonstration of part of this BuiltWorlds survey. Results from last year’s Benchmarking survey showed that 60% of respondents use StructionSite for their progress tracking needs. While StructionSite is the most popular solution, the majority of respondents reported using multiple platforms for their progress tracking. This indicates that the benefits of different progress documentation and reality capture platforms may vary by the type of project that is undertaken. In other words, there tends to be no solution that a company exclusively utilizes. Considering that these technologies are used by contractors on a weekly basis, there is plenty to gain by improving the identified areas of quality assurance and risk management.The BuiltWorlds Benchmarking Program introduces and analyzes emerging technologies across 22 specialty areas within the industry. The program’s survey data allows BuiltWorlds to identify correlations between company demographics and technology adoption. It also allows BuiltWorlds to make predictions regarding technology types, trends, and implementation in personalized report cards so that companies can best leverage their own tech stacks.