Start-up Society
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Start-up Society

Start-up Society #43: The Construction Tech Issue 👷🛠

Keeping the American Dream Alive

Welcome to the 43rd edition of Start-up Society! This is a weekly blog that promotes nationwide entrepreneurship and highlights some of the most exciting start-ups in the country striving to keep the American Dream alive.

Make sure you check out the previous issue, if you have not already, here!

Over 11 million Americans work in construction, yet women comprise only 10.3% of them. There are several factors that could explain this massive gender gap, including unconscious bias, inadequate training, and overall perceptions of women working in construction. Despite these barriers, women continue to rise up in the industry. In today’s issue, we are highlighting three women-led companies developing cutting-edge construction technology.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many construction companies to digitize and use technology to ensure the safety of their workers and boost productivity, a dynamic that will likely only continue to accelerate. With around $10 trillion currently spent on construction each year, the industry is ripe for substantial investments — particularly within the context of efficiency improvements.

Join us as we drill into an AI start-up offering a smarter way to manage jobsites, a company that matches homeowners with general contractors to sweeten their property, and a platform providing the decision engine for commercial construction product selection.

California

Versatile

HQ: Los Altos

Founded: 2016

Total Raised: $28.5M

About the Company

  • Versatile gives users a picture of construction progress, and specifically aims to eliminate redundancies. The company’s onsite platform is based on artificial intelligence that analyzes data on building sites, provides alerts and insights in real-time, enabling construction managers to execute projects in less time with reduced cost and improved efficiency.

“You can only improve what you can measure, and at Versatile we are just scratching the surface of what we can do to create value for our users and use data to turn job sites into controlled manufacturing with fast feedback loops,” — Meirav Oren, CEO of Versatile

Meet the Team

Meirav Oren, Co-Founder & CEO

  • Previously, Meirav kicked her career off by spending 9 years at Intel working in a variety of roles. She founded 2 other companies before starting Versatile in 2016.
  • Previously, Meirav received her Bachelor's Degree from the University Ben Gurion Ba-Negev, her LLM from Bar-Ilan University, and her MBA from Tel Aviv University.

Danny Hermann, Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer

  • Previously, Danny started his career off as a Software Engineer and slowly moved into Product Management after 5 years. He also was a Product lead at Appoxee and MAPP prior to founding Versatile.
  • Danny received his Bachelors of Art from The Academic College of Tel-Aviv in Computer Science and his MBA from IDC Herzliya

Barak Cohen, Co-Founder & CTO

  • Previously, Barak started his career off as a software engineer for over 8 years across 3 different companies. Prior to founding Versatile, he led R&D at MAPP and Woo.io.
  • Barak received his Bachelors of Art from The Academic College of Tel-Aviv in Computer Science.

Ran Oren, Co-Founder

  • Previously, Ran started his career off as a Process Engineer for 7 years and then joined HP in 2013 as an Engineering team lead. After spending a year doing research he Co-Founded Versatile.
  • Ran received his Bachelors of Science from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Nuclear Engineering.

The Start-up Society Assessment

  • Versatile has a deep bench of highly talented individuals leading this company. Monitoring construction builds and ensuring that projects are completed in a high-quality fashion and a timely manner is an excellent concept.
  • The company is playing in the construction monitoring software space, which is currently growing at a CAGR of 16.2% and is expected to reach $3.7B by 2025.
  • Versatile’s success will be determined by how successful their AI is in keeping projects on time and the ROI customers receive from the value add of the platform.

Go Deeper

AI construction startup Versatile raises a $20M Series A

In an effort to further optimize their operations, Hawaiian Dredging turned to Versatile and its CraneView® Platform

New York

Sweeten

HQ: New York

Founded: 2011

Total Raised: $19.7M

About the Company

  • Sweeten matches vetted general contractors to projects submitted by homeowners on the website. The company simultaneously delivers general contracting firms an efficient growth engine, by streamlining marketing, lead acquisition, and bidding, and by vetting all renovation projects for budget and readiness. Sweeten general contractors focus on all types of major renovations ranging from $15,000 to $3 million.

“I see for Sweeten in the future is that we become a verb. So that anyone who walks into space or a home that needs to be renovated, instead of saying it needs to be renovated they say it needs to be Sweetened.” — Jean Brownhill, Sweeten CEO.

  • Sweeten’s sophisticated digital platform empowers homeowners and contractors alike with transparency, data, and an expansive online library of renovation knowledge.

Meet the Team

Jean Brownhill, Co-Founder & CEO

  • Jean received a Bachelor of Architecture from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.
  • Jean is also a Co-Founder and the Chairwoman at the GSD African American Student Union at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.
  • Previously, she was the Senior Manager of Global Architecture at Coach. Prior to Coach, she served as Senior Designer at Andrew Pollock Architect.

Sherataun Nuss, Co-Founder & Creative Director

  • Previously, Sherataun received a Master of Architecture from Rhode Island School of Design and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Illinois, at Urbana-Champaign, completing one year of studies at l’Ecole National Superieure d’Architecture in Versailles, France.
  • Prior to co-founding Sweeten, she was a freelance designer and research consultant for various design and construction firms throughout NYC.

The Start-up Society Assessment

  • Utilizing intelligent software design to connect homeowners looking for qualified people to handle redesign projects for them is an elegant innovation. Construction projects are often hard for contractors to find and typically defer deal sourcing to their network or via word of mouth.
  • The current home remodeling market is valued at over $450B and is continuing to grow, supported by home building and ownership initiatives taking place across the country.

Go Deeper

Goldman Sachs — Sweeten

The internet decimated creative industries. It’s coming for architecture, too

Home remodeling is a $450 billion market, and it’s only going to get bigger

After Meeting with 257 Investors, This Founder Realized That Authenticity Is Everything

Oregon

Source

HQ: Portland

Founded: 2018

Total Raised: $2.9M

About the Company

  • Source connects people in commercial architecture, design, and construction to the products and the people they need to do their jobs faster than ever before. The company can achieve this by maintaining the world’s largest commercial construction product database, with over 25 million data points.
  • The company focuses on the consolidation and organization of the supply chain and people who enable commercial construction products.

“ You could say I was literally hit over the head with the idea that there should be a place with product and manufacturer information about building materials that was transparent and accessible to everyone in the industry.” — Nicole Schmidt, CEO of Source

Meet the Team

Nicole Schmidt, Founder & CEO

  • Previously, Nicole earned your Bachelor of Fine Art from the Illinois Institute of Art in 2005. She began her career as an Interior Designer for over 7 years. She switched to the sales side of the business in 2013. After learning the design side and the sales side of the commercial construction space she launched Source in 2018.

The Start-up Society Assessment

  • The company allows manufacturers to share their information for free in her database and charges designers to access the products, reps, and other tools. Some competitors charge the manufacturers, which leads to lower participation by the companies and an incomplete database. Competitors don’t offer as complete a service and structure their businesses differently.
  • Almost every design firm in the building industry has a materials library, where architects and interior designers turn to find samples of products from carpet to wallpaper to exterior metal accents to show clients when designing projects.
  • The centralization of data and offering quality access to their data is the main differentiating factor for Source. As they continue to create more accessibility in the construction space, the impact of Source will quickly spread across the country.

Go Deeper

Source raises $2.5 million to expand its platform for commercial design nationwide

Sourcing project materials goes 21st century

Thank you for reading this article! Feel free to leave a comment, clap, and follow. Stay tuned for next week’s write-up, posted every Monday at 5 AM ET.

Authored by Arteen Zahiri, Rumeer Keshwani, and Elham Chowdhury

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