Last year, the inaugural BuiltTech Week in Atlanta convened 500 experts and enthusiasts of a relatively-new tech field — “BuiltTech” encompasses any technology that assists or works within the built environment. Think real estate, architecture, engineering, and construction.
Traditionally, these fields — all of which have huge market potential — tend to be analyzed in separate silos. A 2017 report stated that “real estate tech and construction tech have both seen unprecedented levels of deal and funding activity in recent years.” In 2016, real estate tech saw over $2.6B in funding across 277 deals; the same year was a record high for construction tech in terms of number of deals.
But with the inaugural BuiltTech Week as the kickoff point, a group of tech veterans and investors is hoping to bring discussions and education surrounding BuiltTech together in one place. The event was sponsored by Georgia Tech, ATDC, and the Metro Atlanta Chamber and topics ranged from BuiltTech investing to drones for construction to uses for blockchain.
Another sponsor was Shadow Ventures, a new venture capital firm that focuses on BuiltTech. Shadow Ventures founder KP Reddy, who spearheaded BuiltTech Week, has served as an investor and advisor to tech startups for over 25 years.
Last year Shadow Ventures announced launching a $25 million venture fund focused on the space.
In addition to the fund, this week Reddy is also launching BuiltTech Labs, an incubator-type program that connects startups with investors, enterprises and professionals.
“BuiltTech Labs is about creating a pipeline,” explains Reddy. Membership for startups is $500 a year — Shadow Ventures takes no equity, but says they facilitate the connections and education startups would need to position themselves for funding.
Separately, BuiltTech Labs will host an corporate-sponsored accelerator program, run in cohorts and structured like a weekend-style MBA program over nine weekends of classes and learning.
Professionals and companies can also join the community to gain access to likeminded peers and get in front of startups. Reddy says they’re currently solidifying corporate partnerships. The BuiltTech Labs Executive Director will be Jackie Morck, an architect turned serial entrepreneur who worked in Silicon Valley for a decade.
Though Reddy says they are recruiting for both Shadow Ventures and BuiltTech Labs nationally, Atlanta may be an interesting place to pioneer both ventures. As a rapidly-growing city, Atlanta is facing a number of issues of interest to urban planners: gentrification, rising housing costs, explosive building projects, smart city projects and more. BuiltTech startups could have an ideal playground to test and pilot their ideas.
Successful real estate tech startups are already at home in Atlanta, as well; a few examples include home selling platform Knock, which recently expanded beyond Atlanta to North Carolina markets, and real estate crowdfunding website GROUNDFLOOR. New companies in the space continue to pop up. The construction tech industry may be less-developed in Atlanta, but through events like BuiltTech Week, funding mechanisms and resources, Reddy wants to use the academic and business resources here to help grow the field.