The first ever Venture West Conference took place last week in Palo Alto, California expanding our networks interest in venture capital and the technological advancements that are shaping the built environment. The conversation developed throughout the day touching on the fundamentals of why the built environment is rich for disruption, what makes a successful startup, and construction and real estate trends and forecasts for 2019. The event continued with BuiltWorlds Demo Day where we heard from nine startups changing the way we build, maintain, and operate. We brought together industry experts and technology thought leaders to get to the bottom of why 2018 was the greatest funding year in built world history.
Here are four takeaways from the event:
1. Later stage investment has sparked groundbreaking numbers in 2018
Over the past decade, built tech startups have seen early funding from angel investors to series A capital. We are now entering a new era of built world funding where the most promising companies are receiving more and more later round investments from larger, more established players in the market. In fact, 2018 witnessed $1.7 billion invested in just a single week compared to approximately $500 million during all of 2017, indicating significant expansion of the breadth and depth of the ecosystem. It is important to note the impact that large global organizations have had on these numbers was referred to as “the SoftBank effect” by many at the event.
2. Your team is the key to success
Many great ideas get footing from a single or small group of individuals willing to take action. After bootstrapping and angel rounds, those startups that survive the immense competition in the market make it into the later stages of investment. "At the earlier stage, it's a huge bet on founders," said Jordan Fudge, Managing Partner at Sinai Ventures, echoed soon after by Zak Schwarzman, Partner at MetaProp, early stage PropTech investment, advisory and startup acceleration firm.
We also heard from a panel of startups who have made it past the early stages representing companies like PlanGrid, EquipmentShare, BuildingConnected, and Mynd. Ralph Gootee of PlanGrid emphasized that, “Having a great talent of executives is especially important at the later rounds.” Colin Weil of Mynd added, “The kinds of people you need to run a larger organization is different.” If you’d like to hear more on the complexities that take place in later round funding, read our article titled, “Life after the A round: 3 things to expect as your startup enters the middle and later stages.”
3. The era of Buildings 2.0 is here: smart building technology
BuiltWorlds has been preaching the concept of Buildings 2.0 for a few years now, understanding the need for smarter building technology. This topic rang loud and clear at the BuiltWorlds Venture West conference with companies like Pritzker Group Venture Capital emphasizing the PropTech sector during Partner Gabe Greenbaum’s keynote.
We also heard from a panel of technologists focused solely on the PropTech sector. “The uberization of everything has enabled a new expectation of residents/renters to expect more of a hospitality mindset. With this new mind set comes a new opportunity set for property owners to add value,” said Blake Miller, CEO of Homebase. The conversation advanced to a global perspective as companies like Hilti, Doosan, Modern Niagara, and Saint Gobain were brought up. There were predictions that building product companies are going to be receiving an increase in engagement in the coming year.
However, it is not just the technology going into our homes and commercial buildings that is making PropTech the poster child of the built environment. The actual construction of these homes and buildings is changing.
4. Modularization is upon us
The building process is getting smarter along with the buildings themselves. The BuiltWorlds network heard from modularization companies including timber bamboo company Bamcore, energy-efficient smart home creator Acre, and modular home builder Module. There is plenty to keep an eye out for as buildings, both residential and commercial push toward more efficient and sustainable building processes.
Check out some of our favorite photos from the Venture West Conference: