With digital disruption in construction set to accelerate, a community for construction technology entrepreneurs appears to have struck a real chord, says John Priestland.
It started in a pub near the Old Street Roundabout in late 2019. 12 founders of construction technology start-ups met up to talk about the common challenges they faced. “Early-stage companies all run into the same sort of issues,” says Britany Harris, founder of Qualis Flow, who was one of the 12. “Things like fundraising, hiring the best talent and finding great champions in client organisations,” said Harris.
Gzregorz Marecki, co-founder of Continuum Industries, was also at the first meeting. “That is how the C-Tech Club formed – as a drink after work,” he says. “But then, with lockdown, it became a Zoom call and that is when it went global,” Marecki says.
The C-Tech Club is a networking group for founders and CEOs of construction technology start-ups. It has 160 members, each one the leader of an early-stage technology company connected with the built environment. Some are just beginning, such as VOLVE, which was founded by Arkadiy Serezhin after completing his degree at UCL in 2020. VOLVE helps engineers model their complex systems and automatically optimise them with machine learning.
Others are much more advanced. Jeevan Kalanithi is the founder and CEO at Openspace.ai, which enables property owners, contractors and sub-contractors to capture, monitor and quantify progress on site. The company announced in late April that it had raised a further $55m in a Series C funding round. Jeevan said: “I appreciate being able to be in touch with other founders – to share ideas and to give a little advice, based on my experience, to others on the same journey. But more than just giving advice, I very much appreciate receiving the advice this diverse group can provide.”
Anna Walkowska is the CTO and co-founder of Propergate.co, which supports just-in-time deliveries for construction sites. Based in Warsaw, Propergate has just raised $1.2 million of Seed stage funding. She has found the C-Tech Club helpful as she comes to look towards international expansion. “At present, we have focused on the Polish and UAE markets, but we are starting to look to develop our services in parts of central Europe and North America and relationships from the C-Tech Club will help,” she says.
Australian start-up, Matrak, is also looking to expand internationally. The company focuses on tracking high-value items, such as facades, through the factory production process all the way to delivery to site. Ineke Bulle is planning to relocate from Melbourne to Europe in the late summer to drive growth. She says: “The opportunity to meet and connect with construction technology entrepreneurs from all over the world is really helpful and the C-Tech Club is unusual in being one single global community.”
With digital disruption in construction only set to accelerate, the C-Tech Club appears to have found its niche in bringing together some of the entrepreneurs who are at the cutting edge of technology.
John Priestland is a director of Priestland Consulting, which supports construction tech start-ups.