Architects — The Nation’s Biggest Shoppers
Architizer Raises a Series A to Build Tools for Architects
So what’s this all about?
It’s about the value of architecture.
I am a practicing architect myself. I am a member of the AIA. I attend dozens of architecture events in a year, and that means that I have endured endless complaints about the perceived value of architecture — about how architects don’t make enough money, about how we aren’t respected. I can prattle on for pages about how important architects are to society, but sometimes dollars speak louder than words.
That’s how much architects oversee in U.S. construction every year. That’s why the Architecture Billings Index is a leading economic indicator. Economists figured it out: If architects are busy, that means that contractors and building product manufacturers will be busy too. At Architizer, we believe we can unlock the inherent power of that vast sum to empower the entire industry, not just track the economy.
The Architizer community consists of over 40,000 architecture firms from nearly every country in the world. They have uploaded 120,000 projects to the platform. At an average project budget of $33 million, we’ve collected nearly $4 trillion worth of buildings on architizer.com.
Let’s dig deeper into that number. When architects design buildings, they have to choose the products that complete their vision. Architects call this specifying. Normal people call it shopping. General rule of thumb: From façades to door handles, architects select anything in a building that doesn’t move, and this accounts for about 17% of a building’s total budget. In the U.S. alone, that’s nearly $97 billion each year. You might think an industry with this kind of purchasing power would be showered with tools and conveniences to help make these choices, but we aren’t. Finding the right building products today involves some combination of searching Google, calling up salespeople for quotes, collecting PDFs and layering them into their construction drawings. In short, it’s a disaster.
And that’s why we raised a Series A — to help fund the national launch of Architizer Source, a tool that connects architects with the products they need in a completely new way. I can’t reveal everything yet, but so far the results are astounding. In closed beta since July of last year, Source has allowed 10 New York-based firms to specify $50 million in products. From here, we’ll continue to roll out this solution before a national launch towards the end of 2016.
I really like what Eric Carlborg, partner at August Capital, said about what we are doing: “There is a lot of attention in the real estate technology world being focused on contractors and building owners. Already a well-respected brand, Architizer has made the unique observation that the architect is the top of the funnel for decisions that affect the trillion-dollar construction industry.”
I’m also thrilled to announce that we can count SHoP Architects and Handel Architects among our investors. Architizer was founded by architects, for architects, and having these savvy professionals join our team is a big win.
The only way the architecture profession is going to address its myriad challenges is by building tools that unleash the huge power inherent in our work. Solutions will need to be political, legal and economic. It’s no secret that there are huge transformations going on in entrenched markets, whether AirBNB for accommodations or Uber for taxis. Architecture deserves its own revolution, and this Series A helps us get there.