Formwork Labs, an innovation accelerator program with the goal of digitally optimizing the built world ecosystem, has completed its first season as the 10 week program comes to an end. The first batch of startups are preparing to graduate this esteemed accelerator course at BuiltWorlds Americas Summit (September 7th & 8th) with a highly anticipated Demo Day.
This premier BuildWorlds event will be hosted at the Willis Tower Convene space, and is anticipated to have over 200 attendees, with 18+ innovation-focused CEOs and world-class built industry leaders speaking, providing these 5 startups with the perfect platform to debut their post accelerator offering.
Formwork Labs, a partnership between BuiltWorlds and Brick & Mortar Ventures, chose 5 early-stage ventures out of over 80 startup applicants to be a part of Formwork Labs innovation-fueling accelerator program – Simple Construction Software, Nickel, Automatic Construction, Multipliciti, and BuildPeer are now preparing to Demo their nascent value-charged offerings to the world.
Rapidly developing tech adoption in the building tech space has led to a tidal wave of market disrupting ideas, inspiring a slew of undercapitalized and undeveloped entrepreneurial endeavors.
The infancy of the AEC startup space led to the organic formation of Formwork Labs and its accelerator program. The establishment of Formwork Labs marks the beginning of a market disrupting collaboration between innovative thought leaders in building tech, BuiltWorlds and Brick & Mortar Ventures, each leveraging complementary industry expertise to launch this innovation-nurturing program.
Formwork Labs is building a foundation for the next generation of construction-focused ventures. This curated Cohort of pre-seed startups were provided with the resources (financial & business advisory support from B&M Ventures) as well as investor/customer exposure and insights (BuiltWorlds ecosystem of AEC tech adaptors and investors) to propel each venture’s development timeline and position each of them for rapid scalability as they enter a high-growth phase. The resources provided will ideally usher these idea-stage businesses into a successful Seed/Series A funding round in the coming months.
The construction industry has been slow to adapt to the digital renaissance of the Roaring 20s, but this adoption fire was ignited by the global lockdowns of 2020, which opened up a clear blue ocean of investment opportunities for AEC-inclined innovators to take charge. The pandemic represented a changing of the guard and next-generation tools are overhauling the building space (both in construction and management), and now adapting the latest tech has become a competitive necessity.
Formwork Lab’s careful curation of accelerator applicants has led to 5 promising building-tech startups with market disrupting potential as our economy emerges from the pandemic with an innovative tailwind priming these companies to make a splash in the construction market.
Nickel, an emerging payment solution in the AEC space, just closed an initial $1.7M Pre-Seed round. This funding round came on the heels of Nickels’ selection to be a part of Formwork Labs accelerator program, as smart money begins to see the same opportunity as the thought leaders that brought this venture to light (Brick & Mortar and BuiltWorlds)
Nickel is an all-in-one payment platform designed for building material suppliers. There is clear demand among suppliers in this space for a more specialized solution, with 50% of the players in this $300+ billion market looking to switch from the “workaround” financial tracking systems they use today (according to LBM Journal’s survey on payment software usage).
Nickel’s integrated solution suite targets suppliers in the AEC space who want to streamline their payment and document management processes, driving the ease and convenience of financial technology (aka FinTech) into this sector.
Formwork Labs was joined by industry powering Stanley Black & Decker, bleeding-edge venture capitalists like Conversion Capital, Nichole Wischoff, AirAngels, along with a number of angel investors, all ushering Nickel into its next stage of development.
Nickel’s Founders, Ray Fu & Claudio Wilson, have complementary leadership backgrounds in construction tech & software solutions, respectively, with an aligning tenure in FinTech. The investment interests from leading industry players, a clear-cut serviceable market for the product and an impressive team at the helm of this initiative, underscores the market-disrupting potential that this company possesses. Nickel is an emerging BuiltWorlds FinTech player to keep an eye on.
Management is looking to use this pre-seed funding to assemble a world-class team to optimize this FinTech platform, with the longer-term objective of becoming the financial operating system (FOS) for material suppliers.
BuildPeer is a digital platform developed to enhance construction project visibility & control. This LATAM-focused enterprise cloud solution platform provides easy to use digital document management from construction plans to project-related photos and drawings. BuildPeer’s SaaS platform is built to provide real-time communication & collaboration tools for all stakeholders, expediting decision making processes while improving overall project productivity.
BuildPeer is at the forefront of construction digitalization for the LATAM region (starting with its country of origin, Mexico), providing this underserved AEC market with the necessary tools to compete on a more globalized scale. The company is already executing on its product offering with some incipient revenue after raising $175,000 in early-stage equity funding, and Formwork Labs will help position this enterprise for the next level of growth.
Cheaper and faster are two values that the construction industry has prioritized since its inception. Automatic Construction’s Inflatable Flexible Factory Formwork (IFFF) patent epitomizes these coveted construction standards without sacrificing quality. This code compliant and high-strength inflatable structure fills quickly with cement to form the framework of multi-story buildings in a fraction of the time it would take with traditional building processes.
Automatic Construction is still in the concept-stage as it awaits patent approval for its IFFF system. The funding and advisory support this budding company will receive through the Formwork Labs program will serve as a stimulant for rapid expansion into a much needed Seed/Series A funding round (capital intensive business model).
As sustainability and compliance regulations increase, it is important that builders have easy access to energy efficient materials that meet these requirements. This women-led/founded AEC startup provides a solution to these challenges offering a B2B sustainable materials marketplace. From high performing & sustainable windows, and HVAC systems to renewable energy generation, Multipliciti connects buyers and sellers in the AEC industry who share the common goal of reducing CO2 emissions, striving for net-zero carbon footprint.
Multipliciti is already driving healthy revenues after just one $150,000 pre-seed round (SAFE notes). Its partnership with Formwork Labs should provide this next-gen enterprise with the scalability to take significant market share in the booming digital construction marketplace arena.
Simple Construction Software:
Simple Construction Software provides an automated software solution to simplify, quicken, and broadly improve the broken “change management” practices construction projects struggle with today. The past 18 months have shown the global economy that no supply chain is immune to disruption and even the most reliable workforce is not exempt from broader economic pressures. Simple’s savvy founders have worked to quickly address and capitalize on these issues in the built world.
Founded in the UK in 2021, this ambitious SaaS startup is attempting to reinvent the way AEC companies approach the increasingly dubious changes in supply chain networks through automation and full stakeholder visibility of the construction process.
Simple’s co-founders Andrius Sutas (CEO) & Stuart Johnson (CTO) have already made a name for themselves as entrepreneurs in the UK (both having founded & exited startups prior to this venture), and are now leveraging their B2B FinTech expertise in this market disrupting venture.
Simple has raised more than $100k in convertible notes from a UK-based accelerator in March of 2022 and its addition to Formwork Labs program should prime this well-positioned construction digitizer for a healthy Seed/Series A round.
Takeaway From Initial Groups of Applicants
There were some insight trends that we were able to extrapolate from these emerging AEC-tech initiatives. Cloud-based project & information management led as the prevailing innovative theme among these nascent businesses, followed closely by sustainability, digital construction marketplaces (attempting to be the next Amazon of construction), and risk management software.
Construction’s lagging technology adaptation has left a number of digital holes to fill (e.g., enterprise cloud suites for AEC companies are only now being adapted). However, some construction pioneers are venturing into uncharted innovative waters utilizing nascent digital technologies like internet of things (IoT), virtual-reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI) in their next generation AEC offerings.
Actionable insight from real-time data analytics (AI/IoT driven), hands on interactions with digital assets utilizing AR/VR/XR headsets (the construction metaverse for design and engineering), and 3D printing for customizable modular construction, are just a few of the groundbreaking technologies driving the future AEC space.