Investment in construction technologies continues at a brisk pace. Today, Brick & Mortar Ventures, the premier construction tech venture firm, has announced the close of a $97.2M fund. Brick & Mortar invests in emerging companies developing innovative software and hardware solutions for the industries of architecture, engineering, construction, and facilities management. The close of the fund marks Brick & Mortar’s first institutional capital. Brick & Mortar and its Managing Director, Darren Bechtel, have previously been investing personal capital into Built World technology startups since 2012, beginning with Darren’s participation as the largest investor in the Seed round of PlanGrid (acquired by Autodesk in November 2018 for $875M).
“We are excited to formally announce our first institutional venture capital fund and publicly introduce our corporate strategic investors and partners,” said Darren Bechtel, Managing Director and Founding Partner of Brick & Mortar Ventures. “While angel investing across a wide variety of verticals, I observed that out of my portfolio of roughly forty companies, the Built World investments were standout performers and looked to be the start of a larger trend. Whether by good intuition, pure luck, or something in between, my first four construction tech investments were into the seed rounds of PlanGrid, BuildZoom, BuildingConnected, and Rhumbix. The rapid growth, impact, and early success of these companies strengthened my conviction there was ‘gold in them hills,’ and now was the time to invest and double down on our built world tech investment thesis.”
Brick & Mortar is financially backed by leading industry powerhouses in the construction value chain including Ardex, Autodesk, CEMEX, Ferguson Ventures, FMI, Glodon, Haskell, Hilti, Obayashi, Sidewalk Labs, and United Rentals. The firm refers to its corporate anchor investors as “Preferred Industry Partners.” Each such organization enjoys a strategic relationship with the Brick & Mortar team so that each is able, as it chooses, to share information concerning challenges its organization faces; to collaborate on opportunities it sees; and to explore emerging technology solutions that might be available for proof-of-concept pilots, co-development, or commercial use. The Bechtel Group — the 120 year-old multinational engineering and construction firm founded by Darren’s great, great grandfather and run today by his brother, Brendan Bechtel — is not an investor in Brick & Mortar or any of its portfolio companies. However, due to Darren’s familial and past professional relationship with Bechtel, Brick & Mortar considers the company a Preferred Industry Partner, along with its anchor investors.
The Preferred Industry Partners each work with Brick & Mortar to identify to the industry their challenges, explore solutions to their needs and consider the benefits offered by early stage companies known to Brick & Mortar, whether or not Brick & Mortar is an investor in those startups. In addition to the individual support and partnership between Brick & Mortar and each Preferred Industry Partner, the firm facilitates knowledge sharing and direct collaboration between its Partners.
“We are excited to be a Limited Partner of Brick & Mortar and support their efforts to accelerate promising startups that are developing built-for-purpose solutions for the construction industry,” said Kevin Barnes, Vice President and Managing Director at Ferguson Ventures. “Darren, his team and the participating industry-leading LPs will add tremendous capability to our industry.”
Since its initial closing of the fund in January 2018, Brick & Mortar has already built up a portfolio of 16 deals from its current fund: ManufactOn, FieldWire, Serious Labs, BuildingConnected (acquired by Autodesk), Branch Technology, Canvas, Cumulus, Connect Homes, Illumagear, SafeAI, Veerum, Ynomia, Curbio, Wingtra, Timber, and SafeSite. The firm plans to continue to lead Seed and Series A financing rounds globally with a focus on the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia and invest between $1M to $4M into new opportunities with reserved capital for follow-on participation over the life of its portfolio companies.
“Brick & Mortar has shown a true commitment to creating value for their LPs, not just talking about it,” said Cutler Knupp, Director of Strategy and Technology Investments at Dysruptek, CVC arm of Haskell. “Industry expertise in combination with a disciplined focus on real solutions that scale sets Brick and Mortar apart. They have a real passion for advancing technology in the AEC industry and it shows with the quality of investments and willingness to get a little dirt on their boots. The team works hand in hand with us (the LPs) and their portfolio companies as a true partner to build lasting value.”
Through Brick & Mortar’s expertise and strategic LP relationships, the portfolio founders gain access to incomparable industry experience and connections to leading players in the construction value chain. Brick & Mortar provides detailed feedback on product/market fit, helps shape the product roadmap, and aids in helping companies land an early POC or pilot with a pathway to scale.
“Brick & Mortar Ventures is certainly one of the leading investors in construction tech and a key driver in developing the ecosystem in this space,” said Vivin Hegde, Director of Technology at Hilti. “We very much appreciate and benefit from our close partnership.”
Brick & Mortar Ventures is headquartered in San Francisco, CA. The team of five consists of Darren Bechtel, Alice Leung, Kaustubh Pandya, Curtis Rodgers, and Austin Yount.