Versatile Natures, a startup using machine learning and AI to improve construction processes, has raised $5.5 million in seed funding.
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Germany’s Robert Bosch Venture Capital (RBVC), the corporate venture capital company of the Bosch Group, led the round, which also included participation from Conductive Ventures, construction technology enterpreneurs Leigh Jasper (CEO and co-founder of Australian construction software developer Aconex) and Rob Phillpot (co-founder and SVP at Aconex), and previous backer Root Ventures.
Versatile Natures has worked out of 3D design software giant Autodesk’s Build Space in Tel Aviv, Israel, since April 2017 although the company is not an investor in the startup. The company recently relocated its headquarters from Tel Aviv to San Francisco but most of its staff remains in Israel, including its engineering team in particular, according to co-founder and CEO Meirav Oren.
Versatile Natures was founded after a casualty occurred at a construction job site in Israel where Oren’s brother was working as a project manager.
“It prompted me and my partner to examine why we were not looking at how we could better control the manufacturing process,” she told Crunchbase News. “He started drafting a solution on a Post-It that night that would enable data to flow out of a job site in a non-obtrusive way and run it through our platform.”
That Post-It landed on the desk of one of Israel’s top general contractors, Tidhar, which ended up using the company’s proof-of-concept and ultimately becoming a paid customer.
“We were pretty proud of landing our first customer for our full-stack hardware and software solution as an essentially bootstrapped company,” Oren said.
For now, Versatile Natures is listening to the requests of its current customers so that it can integrate more features and abilities into its platform.
“We’ve started with a limited offering, and are figuring out what the product can and should do so that we can deploy on a larger scale,” Oren told Crunchbase News.
Versatile Natures also plans to use the new capital to hire and “scale across North America.”
How It Works
Versatile Natures offers a holistic view of a construction project by mounting IoT sensors under the hook of a crane. The sensors “constantly collect and analyze data,” per the company, with the goal of giving site managers “actionable insights” such as “information on materials, redundancies, construction progress and crane utilization.” Ultimately, its goal is to turn any “construction site into a smart, data-collecting field for project improvement.”
The company’s patent-pending platform, dubbed CraneView™, is designed to be non-intrusive and automated while increasing efficiency, safety and cost-savings, Oren said. The technology is already being deployed on construction sites across the U.S., including in San Francisco, New York, Miami, Seattle, San Jose, Fort Lauderdale and Hawaii. It’s also fully integrated with Building Information Models (BIM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) as well as Project Management and other systems.
RBVC Managing Director Dr. Ingo Ramesohl said his firm believes the startup is “building an industry-changing AI and IoT solution that will transform how the world views construction.”
The funding is the latest in a flurry of investments into construction tech startups, as we’ve covered extensively. Last week, I wrote about OpenSpace, an imaging and AI-driven platform providing 360-degree visibility for construction sites, raising $14 million in a Series A round led by Lux Capital. We also reported last week that Brick & Mortar Ventures, a venture firm with deep domain expertise, had closed on a $97.2 million fund to focus on construction tech investing. In June, Savannah Dowling covered how Dubai-based Tenderd, a marketplace that allows companies to supply and rent construction machinery, raised a $5.8 million seed round.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias