Aug
04
2021
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Buildots raises $30M to put eyes on construction sites

One year after raising $16 million, construction technology company Buildots is back to claim another $30 million, this time in Series B funding.

Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round, with participation from previous investors TLV Partners, Future Energy Ventures, Tidhar Construction Group and Maor Investments. This gives the company $46 million in total funding, Roy Danon, co-founder and CEO of Buildots, told TechCrunch.

The three-year-old company, with headquarters in Tel Aviv and London, is leveraging artificial intelligence computer vision technology to address construction inefficiencies. Danon said though construction accounts for 13% of the world’s GDP and employs hundreds of millions of people, construction productivity continues to lag, only growing 1% in the past two decades.

Danon spent six months on construction sites talking to workers to understand what was happening and learned that control was one of the areas where efficiency was breaking down. While construction processes would seem similar to manufacturing processes, building to the design or specs didn’t happen often due to different rules and reliance on numerous entities to get their jobs done first, he said.

Buildots’ technology is addressing this gap using AI algorithms to automatically validate images captured by hardhat-mounted 360-degree cameras, detecting immediately any gaps between the original design, scheduling and what is actually happening on the construction site. Project managers can then make better decisions to speed up construction.

“It even finds events where contractors are installing out of place and streamline payments so that information is transparent and clear,” Danon said. “Buildots also creates a collaborative environment and trust by having a single source telling everyone what is going on. There is no more blaming or cutting corners because the system validates that and also makes construction a healthier industry to work in.”

Buildots went after new funding once it was able to show product market fit and was expanding into other countries. The platform is being utilized on major building projects in countries like the U.S., U.K., Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia and China. To meet demand, Buildots will use the new funding to continue that expansion; double the size of its global team with a focus on sales, marketing and R&D; and grow on the business side. Danon’s aim is “to get to the point where we are the standard for every construction site.” The company is also looking at areas outside construction where its technology would be applicable.

Tal Morgenstern, partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, said he keeps an eye on graduates of the Israel Defense Forces, where the three Buildots founders came from. However, in the case of this company, Lightspeed actually passed on both the seed and Series A.

Morgenstern admits the decision was a mistake, but at the time, he thought the technology Buildots was trying to build “first, impossible and second, I knew construction was difficult to sell into.” He felt that Buildots, with such a premium product, would have a challenge selling to a low-margin industry that was late to adopt technology in general.

By the time the Series B came round, he said Buildots had solved both of those issues, proving that it works, but also that customers were adopting the technology without much sales and marketing. In addition, other solutions in construction tech were still relying on lasers or people to manually input or tap photos.

“Buildots is seamlessly capturing images and providing a level of insights that is so high, and that is why the company is able to command the price structure they have and are receiving interesting commercial results,” Morgenstern said.

Walking around today’s construction site, Danon said the adoption of technology is enabling Buildots to move quickly to build processes for the industry.

As such, the company saw more than 50% growth quarter over quarter over the past year in three of the countries in which it operates. It is now working with four of the top 10 construction companies in Europe and around the world.

“We did a good job selling remotely, but now we need local offices,” Danon added. “We are also sitting on piles of data from construction sites. We learn from one project to another and want to look for the challenges where data will help make a financial impact. It’s a natural next step for the company.”

 

Jul
30
2020
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Buildots raises $16M to bring computer vision to construction management

Buildots, a Tel Aviv and London-based startup that is using computer vision to modernize the construction management industry, today announced that it has raised $16 million in total funding. This includes a $3 million seed round that was previously unreported and a $13 million Series A round, both led by TLV Partners. Other investors include Innogy Ventures, Tidhar Construction Group, Ziv Aviram (co-founder of Mobileye & OrCam), Magma Ventures head Zvika Limon, serial entrepreneurs Benny Schnaider and  Avigdor Willenz, as well as Tidhar chairman Gil Geva.

The idea behind Buildots is pretty straightforward. The team is using hardhat-mounted 360-degree cameras to allow project managers at construction sites to get an overview of the state of a project and whether it remains on schedule. The company’s software creates a digital twin of the construction site, using the architectural plans and schedule as its basis, and then uses computer vision to compare what the plans say to the reality that its tools are seeing. With this, Buildots can immediately detect when there’s a power outlet missing in a room or whether there’s a sink that still needs to be installed in a kitchen, for example.

“Buildots have been able to solve a challenge that for many seemed unconquerable, delivering huge potential for changing the way we complete our projects,” said Tidhar’s Geva in a statement. “The combination of an ambitious vision, great team and strong execution abilities quickly led us from being a customer to joining as an investor to take part in their journey.”

The company was co-founded in 2018 by Roy Danon, Aviv Leibovici and Yakir Sundry. Like so many Israeli startups, the founders met during their time in the Israeli Defense Forces, where they graduated from the Talpiot unit.

“At some point, like many of our friends, we had the urge to do something together — to build a company, to start something from scratch,” said Danon, the company’s CEO. “For us, we like getting our hands dirty. We saw most of our friends going into the most standard industries like cloud and cyber and storage and things that obviously people like us feel more comfortable in, but for some reason we had like a bug that said, ‘we want to do something that is a bit harder, that has a bigger impact on the world.’ ”

So the team started looking into how it could bring technology to traditional industries like agriculture, finance and medicine, but then settled upon construction thanks to a chance meeting with a construction company. For the first six months, the team mostly did research in both Israel and London to understand where it could provide value.

Danon argues that the construction industry is essentially a manufacturing industry, but with very outdated control and process management systems that still often relies on Excel to track progress.

Image Credits: Buildots

Construction sites obviously pose their own problems. There’s often no Wi-Fi, for example, so contractors generally still have to upload their videos manually to Buildots’ servers. They are also three dimensional, so the team had to develop systems to understand on what floor a video was taken, for example, and for large indoor spaces, GPS won’t work either.

The teams tells me that before the COVID-19 lockdowns, it was mostly focused on Israel and the U.K., but the pandemic actually accelerated its push into other geographies. It just started work on a large project in Poland and is scheduled to work on another one in Japan next month.

Because the construction industry is very project-driven, sales often start with getting one project manager on board. That project manager also usually owns the budget for the project, so they can often also sign the check, Danon noted. And once that works out, then the general contractor often wants to talk to the company about a larger enterprise deal.

As for the funding, the company’s Series A round came together just before the lockdowns started. The company managed to bring together an interesting mix of investors from both the construction and technology industries.

Now, the plan is to scale the company, which currently has 35 employees, and figure out even more ways to use the data the service collects and make it useful for its users. “We have a long journey to turn all the data we have into supporting all the workflows on a construction site,” said Danon. “There are so many more things to do and so many more roles to support.”

Image Credits: Buildots

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