Looking Back at BuiltWorlds’ 2018 Mavericks List: Beyond Katerra, Sidewalk Labs and WeWork, One Proptech Startup Stands Out

Maverick Winners 2018, Digital Badges
2018 Maverick Nominees accept their awards at the 2018 BuiltWorlds Summit

Our Inaugural BuiltWorlds Mavericks List, published in April of 2018, trumpeted a host of audacious, multi-billion dollar ventures in proptech and construction tech, backed by big names and promising major disruption to industry incumbents. The ventures included Sidewalk Labs, a digitally enabled real estate developer backed by Sidewalk Labs, Katerra, an end-to-end modular builder backed by Softbank, and WeWork, then valued at $40 billion, and gobbling up so much prime office space that real estate brokers and facilities managers worried about being crowded out of their key markets. Six years on, those talks of bold ideas, have given way to a more sober reality.  Sidewalk Labs’ Quais Toronto has been shelved. Katerra’s assets have been sold, and WeWork sank from its $47 billion valuation to persistent bankruptcy talks. In some respects 2018 was a high water mark for big ideas and enthusiasm surrounding the Built World’s digital transformation, and the new generation of industry Mavericks, still ambitious in their pursuits, appears more measured in their pursuits.

We will Publish our 2023 Mavericks List in April (there is still time to apply), but a look back at the Mavericks from 2018 suggests that those with the most audacious ideas for transforming the industry were not the ones who profited most from the past six year’s run up. Beyond those who grabbed the big headlines, there were a host of entrepreneurs on the list who garnered less press at the time who actually may prove to have fared better than their higher flying colleagues in the long run. Modular Builder, Roger Krulak, for example, did not get nearly the money or attention that Katerra received, but his firm, FullStack Modular, continues its work,  breaking ground this spring on a new Treehouse Hotel in Sunnyvale, California, his firm’s first project on the West Coast. Similarly, Scott Peters, a pioneer of construction robotics has found success with the MULE (Material Unit Lift Enhancer), a second product introduced alongside SAM, the firm’s Semi-Automatic Mason. Offering further evidence of the health of the middle in construction tech, Darren Bechel who was also on the list in 2018, has notched a series of successful exits, including BuildingConnected, Fieldwire, and Levelset – all at mid nine figure valuations.

Brendan Wallace of Fifth Wall and Al Goldstein of Pangea RE
Al Goldstein, Executive Chairman and Founder of Pangea Properties and Avant (left) and Brendan Wallace (right), co-founder of Fifth Wall, share perspective on real estate tech at our 2017 Projects Conference in Los Angeles.


While the “high flyers” may not have seen their visions brought to full fruition, many pieces of what they created such as Katerra’s state of the are modular factory in California and WeWork’s Fieldlens have found new life with new owners. WeWork is still a business, and Adam Neuman has a new Built World venture. Time will tell. In the meantime, there was one Maverick from the 2018 List who has seen his startup evolve into a multi-billion dollar juggernaut in the six years since we first published the List. Who is that successful startup entrepreneur? It is Brendan Wallace, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Built World-focused venture fund, Fifth Wall. Launched in 2016, Fifth Wall has evolved into a major financial player, with more than $3 Billion in assets under management, and no signs of slowing down.  So what is the lesson here?  Well, time will tell, and in the meantime, we will look forward to highlighting a whole new class of entrepreneurs, influencers, technologists, industry leaders, and investors in the weeks to come.