Business Startups Venture

Meet OpenSpace, The Construction Tech Startup That Just Raised $14M From WeWork and Others

OpenSpace, an imaging and AI-driven platform providing 360-degree visibility for construction sites, has raised $14 million in a Series A round led by Lux Capital.

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Other participants in the financing included a mix of institutional venture firms (Goldcrest Capital, Navitas Capital and Zigg Capital), the venture arm of commercial real estate brokerage (JLL Spark) and a developer and construction company (Tishman Speyer and Suffolk Construction). Real estate developer and co-working giant WeWork also put money in the round.

WeWork and the participating construction company investors were all customers prior to backing OpenSpace, according to co-founder and CEO Jeevan Kalanithi.

“In some ways, WeWork is very unique in the construction world, and in some ways they’re a glimpse into the future because the rate at which they are building is so fast and vast that they have to solve problems everyone else is coming up against, such as getting more work done with fewer people faster,” he said.

Founded two years ago this month by MIT grads, San Francisco-based OpenSpace uses patent-pending artificial intelligence to “automatically create navigable, 360-degree photo representations of any physical space.”

“We’re using AI to augment workers’ capabilities by making documentation fast, easy and complete,” Kalanithi said.

The financing marks the company’s first raise since it closed on a $3.5 million seed round in September 2017. So far, the company’s technology has been used on projects valued at more than $50 billion on a combined basis, including currently at the Spiral, a three million square foot office tower being developed by Tishman Speyer in New York City.

The way OpenSpace works is that builders attach a small camera to their hardhats and walk around a construction site. Its technology “passively captures” imagery in the background. Per the company, that imagery data is then uploaded to the cloud, “where OpenSpace’s algorithms map the photos to project plans and stitch them together, creating a visual representation of the site similar in style to Google Street View.” The data then accumulates over time, so that builders have the ability to review site conditions from as little as a day before or as far back as years prior.

“OpenSpace makes it incredibly easy to walk a job site, gather detailed imagery and automatically generate a 360° view that’s pinned to the floor plan. What used to be a complex, laborious task is now a simple and elegant user experience,” said David Gerster, vice president at JLL Spark, a venture fund launched by commercial real estate brokerage JLL last year.

OpenSpace claims that customers report its technology “allows for 30x faster data capture compared to traditional, manual methods.” I

Looking ahead, OpenSpace plans to use its new capital to scale its operations, with a particular focus on sales and marketing, as well as to develop new computer vision-powered products.

“The product we have today allows us to collect a massive amount of information and we want to take that to build products that can analyze that information and make the lives of our customers much more efficient and easier,” Kalanithi told Crunchbase News.

In 2019, he projects the company will see revenue climb by “four to five times” compared to last year.

Background

OpenSpace’s founding team brings both a tech background and domain expertise to the table.

CEO Kalanithi sold his first company, Sifteo, to 3D Robotics where he eventually became president. More recently, he was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) at Lux Capital. Co-founder Michael Fleischman also helped form Bluefin Labs, a social TV analytics company.

OpenSpace CEO and Co-founder Jeevan Kalanithi

OpenSpace has purposely chosen to work with investors who are directly involved in construction and real estate, Kalanithi said.

“In this industry in particular, it’s really important to have people that are users and customers deeply connected to the company itself,” he said. “That’s what their lives are every day.”

Indeed, earlier today, we reported that Brick & Mortar Ventures, a venture firm with deep domain expertise, has closed on a $97.2 million fund to focus on construction tech investing. Its LPs are exclusively corporate strategics, or companies working in the industry in one form or another.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias