A venture capital firm led by Darren Bechtel, brother of Bechtel chairman Brendan, has launched a $97m fund to offer seed funding to construction-technology start-ups.
Brick & Mortar Ventures, based in San Francisco, has attracted investment from software house Autodesk, Mexican cement maker Cemex, US plumbing supplies company Ferguson Enterprises, Japanese contractor Obayashi and Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google’s parent Alphabet.
Around 10% of the fund comes from Darren Bechtel’s own money, The Real Deal reported.Â
The launch comes as investment into construction tech start-ups jumped from a meagre $352m in 2016 to more than $6bn last year.Â
Brick & Mortar describes its mission as to "identify, invest in, and grow emerging companies developing innovative software and hardware solutions for the industries of architecture, engineering, construction, and facilities management".
Bechtel said the latest funding would allow him to "double down on the investment thesis" and increase investments between of between $1m and $4m.
"In 2015," he said, "if you could cut a $2 million check in construction tech, it was King Kong."
Brick & Mortar has already invested in more than 40 startups, including Building Connected, Buildzoom, Branch Technology, Canvas, FieldWire, Connect Homes, SafeAI, Timber and SafeSite.
Another start-up, construction software firm Plangrid, was backed by Brick & Mortar and later acquired for $875m in 2018 by Autodesk.
Image: Brick & Mortar’s team, Darren Bechtel second from right (Brick & Mortar)