AI ConTech Startup Closes $14 Million Series A Round

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Construction site in Hong Kong

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As we’ve seen in a previous article, the Construction Tech (ConTech) market is huge and filled with low-hanging fruit for the technologically savvy contractor or client to pick. Though there are seven areas in the construction value chain that could (and are starting to) benefit from the advent of ConTech, the biggest gains in the space are currently being had in the management of construction processes, even when traditional methods of construction are used. One of the most exciting and useful innovations within this space is 4D representation and the subsequent analysis of a site’s progress using a combination of 360-degree imagery and sophisticated AI.

As a testament to the increasing significance of the ConTech subsector, OpenSpace, a two-year-old San Francisco-based startup specializing in this technology, just closed a $14 million Series A funding round.

The round was led by Lux Capital, joined by returning investor Goldcrest Capital along with new participants JLL Spark, Navitas Capital, Suffolk Construction, Tishman Speyer, WeWork and Zigg Capital. Participation in the round by important real estate and construction players underlines the growing importance that industry stakeholders give to de-risking projects through accurate and near real-time planning and process management.

OpenSpace creates navigable representations of job sites through 360 degree imagery captured with cameras attached to the hard hats of builders doing their customary walkthroughs. This is then analysed and mapped, creating a view of the site that the company claims to be similar to Google Street View. The data captured can be navigated spatially and temporally, and notes taken in the app during walkthroughs are also pinned to a specific place and time, with the goal of simplifying stakeholder oversight. OpenSpace also has a Building Information Management (BIM) viewer functionality, allowing for side by side comparisons of the actual job site with its 3D BIM model.

The use of tech such as that provided by OpenSpace brings many benefits. On the one hand, contractors can manage their work and that of their subcontractors ranging from scheduling through change orders and RFIs, to payment requests more effectively. Reporting obligations are streamlined, and inefficiencies arising from disputes are dampened thanks to accurate visual data. On the other, the supervisory role of the client is simplified and many grey areas are done away with. According to OpenSpace, customers report that its tech allows for 30 times faster data capture compared to traditional, manual methods.

Jenny Wong, managing director at Tishman Speyer shared that: “Tishman Speyer has piloted OpenSpace at MIRA in San Francisco and now at our ongoing construction of the Spiral, a three million square foot development in New York City, and we see value in scaling this program more broadly. Access to accurate, immediate data is essential in the development and building process, and we are excited to be partnering with OpenSpace.”

David Gerster, vice president at JLL Spark, had the following to say about OpenSpace: "Through JLL’s construction management services, we were able to pilot OpenSpace in two office buildings. It's a level of due diligence most venture investors just don't have access to. We are excited to roll out OpenSpace’s technology across other JLL buildings and clients."

OpenSpace has grown exponentially since its inception in 2017. Having secured seed funding for $4.25 million in August of that year, it launched out of stealth just over a year ago and claims to now be deployed on projects exceeding $50 billion in total value globally, with its customers having captured more than 150 million square feet of data since launch. Clients, besides those that are also investors such as Tishman Speyer, JLL and WeWork, include AECOM, Brookfield, Novo Construction, Turner Construction, DPR, Sundt, PARIC  and many more. The team has grown from 5 to 35 members since launch, and the company is on track to multiply its revenue fivefold this year, with a 25% monthly user growth rate.

“At OpenSpace, we’re using AI to augment workers’ capabilities by making documentation fast, easy, and complete,” said Jeevan Kalanithi, cofounder and CEO of OpenSpace. “We started this company by collaborating with builders, on their job sites. We knew that any documentation solution needed to be totally passive in order to fit into the extremely busy day-to-day of a construction site, and this is what inspired us to create OpenSpace’s unique tap-and-go approach.”

The company plans to use the funds it just raised to continue scaling up its operations and make its current products more widely available, with a significant push on expanding its sales and marketing efforts. It will also work on developing a new range of computer vision powered products that will leverage the unique and growing dataset it is creating.

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Construction site in Hong Kong

Getty

As we’ve seen in a previous article, the Construction Tech (ConTech) market is huge and filled with low-hanging fruit for the technologically savvy contractor or client to pick. Though there are seven areas in the construction value chain that could (and are starting to) benefit from the advent of ConTech, the biggest gains in the space are currently being had in the management of construction processes, even when traditional methods of construction are used. One of the most exciting and useful innovations within this space is 4D representation and the subsequent analysis of a site’s progress using a combination of 360-degree imagery and sophisticated AI.

As a testament to the increasing significance of the ConTech subsector, OpenSpace, a two-year-old San Francisco-based startup specializing in this technology, just closed a $14 million Series A funding round.

The round was led by Lux Capital, joined by returning investor Goldcrest Capital along with new participants JLL Spark, Navitas Capital, Suffolk Construction, Tishman Speyer, WeWork and Zigg Capital. Participation in the round by important real estate and construction players underlines the growing importance that industry stakeholders give to de-risking projects through accurate and near real-time planning and process management.

OpenSpace creates navigable representations of job sites through 360 degree imagery captured with cameras attached to the hard hats of builders doing their customary walkthroughs. This is then analysed and mapped, creating a view of the site that the company claims to be similar to Google Street View. The data captured can be navigated spatially and temporally, and notes taken in the app during walkthroughs are also pinned to a specific place and time, with the goal of simplifying stakeholder oversight. OpenSpace also has a Building Information Management (BIM) viewer functionality, allowing for side by side comparisons of the actual job site with its 3D BIM model.

The use of tech such as that provided by OpenSpace brings many benefits. On the one hand, contractors can manage their work and that of their subcontractors ranging from scheduling through change orders and RFIs, to payment requests more effectively. Reporting obligations are streamlined, and inefficiencies arising from disputes are dampened thanks to accurate visual data. On the other, the supervisory role of the client is simplified and many grey areas are done away with. According to OpenSpace, customers report that its tech allows for 30 times faster data capture compared to traditional, manual methods.

Jenny Wong, managing director at Tishman Speyer shared that: “Tishman Speyer has piloted OpenSpace at MIRA in San Francisco and now at our ongoing construction of the Spiral, a three million square foot development in New York City, and we see value in scaling this program more broadly. Access to accurate, immediate data is essential in the development and building process, and we are excited to be partnering with OpenSpace.”

David Gerster, vice president at JLL Spark, had the following to say about OpenSpace: "Through JLL’s construction management services, we were able to pilot OpenSpace in two office buildings. It's a level of due diligence most venture investors just don't have access to. We are excited to roll out OpenSpace’s technology across other JLL buildings and clients."

OpenSpace has grown exponentially since its inception in 2017. Having secured seed funding for $4.25 million in August of that year, it launched out of stealth just over a year ago and claims to now be deployed on projects exceeding $50 billion in total value globally, with its customers having captured more than 150 million square feet of data since launch. Clients, besides those that are also investors such as Tishman Speyer, JLL and WeWork, include AECOM, Brookfield, Novo Construction, Turner Construction, DPR, Sundt, PARIC  and many more. The team has grown from 5 to 35 members since launch, and the company is on track to multiply its revenue fivefold this year, with a 25% monthly user growth rate.

“At OpenSpace, we’re using AI to augment workers’ capabilities by making documentation fast, easy, and complete,” said Jeevan Kalanithi, cofounder and CEO of OpenSpace. “We started this company by collaborating with builders, on their job sites. We knew that any documentation solution needed to be totally passive in order to fit into the extremely busy day-to-day of a construction site, and this is what inspired us to create OpenSpace’s unique tap-and-go approach.”

The company plans to use the funds it just raised to continue scaling up its operations and make its current products more widely available, with a significant push on expanding its sales and marketing efforts. It will also work on developing a new range of computer vision powered products that will leverage the unique and growing dataset it is creating.

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I am a real estate entrepreneur and a proptech founder, investor, and thought leader. I hold a BSc from the LSE and an MBA from Oxford University's SBS. I started my car...