The technological advances we’ve made over the last few thousand years are stunning, but the construction industry still relies on centuries-old technology.
Configuring a robot to mix cement is easy, but delivering a CementTron 3000 to a job site, training employees on its use, and keeping it maintained are not the kinds of disruptions builders are looking for, especially when margins are so thin and experienced workers are hard to find.
Even so, investors are backing startups bringing robotics, data management, automation and augmented reality into the construction process.
Many major construction firms operate their own R&D divisions, but that hasn’t substantially changed attitudes about adopting new tech: in one survey, more than one-third of respondents who worked in the industry said they are ambivalent about using new tools. Despite their reluctance, growing numbers of construction tech startups are helping builders with bidding, scheduling, modeling software, and, quite frequently, drones.
To learn more about the market forces shaping construction tech in 2022, we spoke to five investors:
- Nikitas Koutoupes, managing director, Insight Partners
- Heinrich Gröller, partner, Speedinvest
- Momei Qu, managing director, PSP Growth
- Suzanne Fletcher, venture partner, Prime Movers Lab
- Sungjoon Cho, general partner, D20 Capital
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For better or for worse: Managing founder-CEO tension inside a startup
Technical founders often recruit a CEO who can fill in gaps in their business experience, but if they cannot build a strong partnership, everyone suffers.
Metaphorically, imagine two people in a lifeboat arguing over which direction leads to land.
Managing potential points of tension is critical, but founders must be pragmatic: Only choose someone you respect, and be prepared to invest time and energy into cultivating a close relationship, advises Max Schireson, an executive-in-residence at Battery Ventures. Previously, the co-founders of MongoDB hired him to be their CEO.
“In the best case, a strong partnership can pioneer new models and build a lasting and impactful company,” says Schireson.
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The one-chart argument that tech valuations have fallen too far
As you may have heard, tech companies are having a bit of a whoopsie.
But is it possible that stock sellers have gone overboard when it comes to devaluing these startups so deeply and so quickly?
Alex Wilhelm says they have, in large part because “select tech concerns are now worth less than they were before the pandemic, despite having a few years of growth in the bank.”
To make his case, he tracked the share price for Okta and found that the identity platform’s share price has rolled back to where it was in early 2019.
“It’s also about three times as large,” writes Alex. “But it is now worth less today than it was back then. Chew on that.”
3 things to remember when diversifying your startup’s cap table
Just as a sales team builds and refines its funnel, early-stage founders in fundraising mode can create an investor funnel that will help sustain their company for years to come.
Oriana Papin-Zoghbi, CEO and co-founder of women’s health startup AOA Dx, shared her investor breakdown with TC+:
- 35% private investors.
- 34% women (female investors or female-headed funds).
- 26% venture capitalists.
- 23% family and friends.
- 18% international investors.
- 15% angel groups.
“When building an investor funnel, vocalizing what you want is crucial to finding the right investors,” says Papin-Zoghbi.
“Finding the right investors is like finding the right team members — you need to be upfront about your expectations and address what you want them to bring to the table.”
Pitch Deck Teardown: BoxedUp’s $2.3M seed round pitch deck
When video production equipment rental company BoxedUp launched, it initially focused on serving corporate customers who hosted events and conferences.
And then, it pivoted: Earlier this year, BoxedUp raised a $2.3 million seed round to scale up its rental marketplace where individuals can rent high-end equipment directly to creators.
“We found a $10 billion opportunity where owner-operators are renting things out via Instagram and rental shops are still using really old websites,” said CEO and founder Donald Boone.
“Instead of spending $30,000 to buy a camera to rent out one at a time, we could instead create the platform to connect people that have that $30,000 camera,” he told TechCrunch in March.
To help other founders replicate his success with BoxedUp’s seed round, he’s shared the unreacted 22-slide pitch deck with TechCrunch+.