Where would the construction industry be today without those who have actively participated in the innovation and advancement of the technology? Much of the more common technology we use to help build today, such as ERP systems, bid management platforms, or labor management platforms, were just the dreams of one or a few individuals just a few decades ago. Those dreams grew into viable, valuable solutions now used by the many millions in our industry today.
Of course, for every dream that is built into a product, there are hundreds or thousands that never leave the hippocampus. A founder is an individual who not only has the ability to conjure ideas to improve the world (in this case being the AEC industry), but has the discipline and drive to take those ideas and mold them into a product offering. This is no small feat, and requires a hefty combination of perseverance, skill, and of course, luck.
Taking the step to becoming a founder is a decision a very small percentage of individuals choose. Even further, becoming a successful founder, building a product and a successful business, is an even smaller percentage of that crowd. Being able to tap directly into that source knowledge of the small percentage who have found success in the industry is an invaluable way to learn from the successes and mistakes others made along the way.
In this panel titled "Lessons Learned from ConTech's Serial Entrepreneurs," we will hear directly from four of these dreamers to understand how it started, how it went, and what they learned along the way. Dustin, Chris, Ralph, and Jen have all founded and grown technology companies in our industry and are eager to impart their wisdom during our Venture West Conference. For all those considering starting a new company, investing in growing companies, or working with new products, this is your chance to hear all about it, right from the sources.
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Meet the Panel
Dustin Devan - Co-founder of BuildingConnected (Acquired by Autodesk)
Part of one of the most successful construction technology exits of the last decade, Dustin Devan is a name familiar to many in the industry. Dustin founded BuildingConnected in 2012 and led the company on its 7 year journey to its successful exit to Autodesk in 2019.
Dustin began his career in the industry as a scheduler and project engineer with Bechtel, Rudolph & Sletten, and XL Construction for his first 6 years prior to founding BuildingConnected. Nowadays, Dustin spends much of his time as a mentor, advisor, and investor in construction tech startups as he continues to influence the advancement of the construction industry.
Jen Carlile - Co-Founder & CTO, Outer Labs
Jen is currently serving as the CTO of Outer Labs, a company she co-founded in 2018 to help real estate owners scale through better technology. Jen brings her extensive background as a software engineer to assist in the development of custom technology solutions targeting the AEC space. Prior to her work at Outer Labs, Jen also co-founded Flux Data, a cloud platform spin-off from Google X intended to lower the cost and improve the quality of buildings across the globe. Jen was part of the team as a software engineer at Google, and then stayed with the team as Flux turned into its own entity.
Chris Callen - Founder & CEO, Plot
The intersection of construction and technology has long been a place Chris has considered home. Through his early pursuits with Builders Plus Construction, Chris developed a thorough understanding of the industry, and began to understand how technology could really make a difference. After experiencing the tech side of the industry with ViaTechnik, Chris went on to be founder & CEO of Grit, a company geared towards providing a 4D solution for procurement, schedules, and work plans.
At his current pursuit, Chris is the current Founder & CEO of Plot, an 18 month old startup aimed at creating a digital workspace to better manage the jobsite.
Ralph Gootee - Co-Founder & CTO, TigerEye
In his current role, Ralph has taken on a new challenge as the Co-Founder and CTO of TigerEye, a stealth sales software company. Prior to this role as well as his current work with Y Combinator, Ralph is well known for his time as Co-Founder & CTO of PlanGrid, a field productivity software used by construction workers. Ralph brought his skills as a software engineer to PlanGrid, where he led engineering, product, and technology and ultimately assisted in the successful acquisition of PlanGrid by Autodesk in 2019.
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