Venture West Day One Briefing

Day One of the 2023 Venture West Conference is officially in the books! In what was a packed day consisting of a Keynote Address, six expert panels, a presentation using BuiltWorlds’ research data, and a Demo Day Competition, BuiltWorlds hosted over 250 professionals working to advance the built environment. The Conference is taking place in the historic Westin St. Francis in downtown San Francisco. 

Following a brief welcome from BuiltWorlds’ Executive Chairman, Matt Gray, the audience listened to Crews by Core’s CEO, Di-Ann Eisnor, give the opening Keynote Address titled “Construction Tech’s Historic Opportunity.” Di-Ann spoke on her unique perspective from a non-technical construction background and how it translates to the AEC industry.  

Following Di-Ann’s Keynote Address, Dan Laboe, BuiltWorlds’ Director of Venture & Investment Research, set the stage for the rest of the day with a panel titled “The State of Built World Strategic Funds.” Alongside Laboe was Eric Lamb, Managing Director for WND Ventures, Cutler Knupp, Director – Strategy and Technology Investment with Haskell, Mateo Zimmermann, Venture Capital Director for CEMEX Ventures, Prabhakar Karri, Director of Andersen Corporation, and Jennifer Marcus, Director of HD Ventures. The group discussed the pros and cons of creating a strategic fund and if it might be the right move for your organization. 

After a brief networking break, Dustin Devan, Co-Founder of BuildingConnected, Chris Callen, Founder of Plot, Ralph Gootee, Co-Founder of PlanGrid, and Jen Carlile, Co-Founter and CTO of Outer Labs, took the stage for “Lessons Learned from ConTech’s Serial Entrepreneurs” moderated by BuiltWorlds Tyler Sewall. In this session, the panelists discussed where the industry is heading from the perspective of future-focused innovators and second-time founders.    

Next, Laboe led a conversation with Ray Levitt, Operating Partner for Blackhorn Ventures, Aaron Toppston, Managing Partner with GS Futures, Robert Mazer, President of Flexnode, and Mark Skender, Co-Founder of RaaP. The panel was titled “The Modular Model: To Integrate or to Partner,” and explored the nuances of vertically integrating within the AEC industry. To do so, the group explored Katerra’s model, including what went wrong. 

Around noon, the Conference broke for a much-needed lunch before Laboe’s presentation, the final three panels, and the Demo Day Competition. To start the afternoon, Laboe gave a presentation on “The State of Built World Ventures.” This presentation reviewed investment activity in 2022 and explored some potential implications for the future of the built environment.

Sewall then moderated “Democratizing Design: Stakeholder Collaboration Through BIM” featuring Jon Berkoe, Digital Delivery Leader with Arup, Tim Schoenheit, Senior Innovation Manager for Goldbeck, Mark Austin, BIM Subject Matter Expert with Autodesk, Raja Ghawi, Partner for Era Ventures, and Hung Nguyen, Director of VDC for Herrero Builders. The group discussed what the traditional design-build phase looks like and what it will look like in the future.

For the first of two sponsored panels at this year’s Venture West Conference, Kajima’s Yuji Doi, Technology Development Manager, led the panel “External Innovations Across the World.” Accompanying Yuji was Dai Ohama, General Manager of Innovation and Incubation for Kajima, Janis Pieterwas, Innovation Manager for Goldbeck, Sang Yoon Choi, Investor with GS Futures, and Tristen Magallanes, Director of Product Incubation for DPR. The group discussed how R&D impacts the construction industry and its relation to “open innovation.”    


For BuiltWorlds’ Demo Day Competition, the audience watched eight pitches from BoxLock, Penta Technologies, Urban Machine, Trusstor, Imajion, AlwaysAI, Revaka, and Cube. Judging the eight demos were Kaushal Diwan with DPR Construction, Scott Ellison with Headwater, Jeff Herriman of Ascentage, Nick Deraney of Saint-Gobain, Eric Whobrey of ARCO/Murray, and Ben Price of Orbia Ventures. The winner will be announced at the beginning of Day Two. 

The final panel of Day One was titled “Built-World Venture Capitalists: Investors in The Final Frontier of Innovation.” Vivin Hegde, General Partner of Zacua Ventures, Amelia Miller, Investor for Insight Partners, Sarah Liu, Partner with Fifth Wall, Wan Li Zhu, Managing Partner of Suffolk Technologies, and Ty Findley, Co-Founder & General Partner of Ironspring Ventures discussed investment drivers of both the 2021 funding palooza and the more stringent DD involved in 2022 venture investments.