215. Crisis Coverage w/ Darren Bechtel – The Built World & Construction Tech, Post-Pandemic

Darren Bechtel TFR Construction Tech
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Darren Bechtel of Brick & Mortar Ventures joins Nick on a special Crisis Coverage installment to discuss The Built World in Crisis. In this episode, we cover:

  • Background and path to venture?
  • South Park… must be a story behind the name there?
  • Overview of the thesis at Brick & Mortar?
  • Just have to say… I suspect that the impacts of this crisis on the built world will be more profound that we can possibly imagine… and I won’t pretend to know what those might be. Can you talk a bit about what you’re seeing and what that could mean for the future?
  • Circling back to your path to venture… How did your family react to your pursuit of a career in VC in lieu of the family business?
  • Walk us through your first angel investment — was it opportunistic or were you looking for startup investments actively?
  • How’d that one turn out?
  • Prior to founding the firm, were there any existing firms in the space that you looked to for inspiration?
  • Talk about your first fundraise… you had access to a lot more capital than you closed. Why didn’t you raise more?
  • What was the biggest mistake you made when launching your first fund?
  • Now that you’re nearly 5 years into Brick and Mortar, is Built/ Construction tech where you expected it to be and are you as bullish on it now as you were then?
  • Do you think a major infrastructure bill gets passed? Trump has been talking about this for years and it seems like, with the current stimulus, now is his opportunity?
  • I have to imagine this will be a big tailwind for some of your portcos (and prospectives)?
  • Safety has been an area of interest that you’ve spoken about in the past. How does that apply in the context of your investment focus and does that change w/ the current crisis?
  • What advice would you give to a founder in the built technology space and how might that advice differ from the standard advice given to SaaS or consumer tech companies?

Guest Links:

Transcribed with AI:

0:03
welcome to the podcast about investing in startups, where existing investors can learn how to get the best deal possible. And those that have never before invested in startups can learn the keys to success from the venture experts. Your host is Nick Moran and this is the full ratchet.

0:23
Darren Bechtel joins us today from San Francisco. Darren is founder and managing director at brick and mortar ventures before starting brick and mortar in 2015. Darren founded South Park ventures, and he is one of the leading experts in the built technology space. Darren, welcome to the show.

0:38
Thank you very much, Nick.

0:40
So I’ve read a lot about your background. But for the listeners, can you kind of give us the short version of your path to venture?

0:46
Yeah, sure. Happy to, you know, we brick and mortar were known as the construction tech VCs, which is a bit of a strange and emerging area. I get asked how we ended up there. And it’s fair to say that I was born into the world of engineering and construction. My first job site experience was when I was six months old, and my family moved us into a trailer in the jungles of Borneo. Wow, on a job site that my dad was doing project management for. Sounds obscure. But when your last name is above the door of the largest private construction company in the world, a, you get some experiences in the trenches who earn your stripes. And at that point in time with two kids under the age of two, my dad was sort of doing his rotation of tough assignments. San Francisco headquartered company up until at least the last couple of years when they relocated out to the east coast, but projects all around the world, and usually the ones in pretty remote areas. So I grew up working summers, since I was of legal age 14 primarily in construction trades. I’ve been a gopher to the gopher on a homebuilding crew, a forklift operator, Mason finished Carpenter, project manager and spent my summer 18 years old, overseeing a team of pile drivers on coal terminal expansion out in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. So you know, a pretty strange background for many. Yeah, par for the course growing up in the the Bechdel family. And so, you know, appreciated satisfaction, but hard day’s work the value of the dollar, and really fell in love with the industry. I studied product design, actually at Stanford, you know, the school is now well known for the D school and their whole concept of sort of design thinking or user base design and need finding that was sort of inherited from IDEO. And sort of the creative side of engineering a blend of the sort of engineering base classes. And then this more creative problem solving and rapid prototyping side teaches you how to sort of do a deep dive into a specific target user group identify the unmet needs, go through the rapid prototyping process, develop solutions, hopefully, solve the pain points. And if you do that, well, you’ve hopefully developed a solution that that sort of sells itself. And so you know, a mix of the creative and analytical mind. We, in our family business, have a policy that if you’re a family member interested in working for the company full time after school, you actually have to go work somewhere else for at least two years. So I got recruited out of the product design program to join a commercial architecture firm actually, out in Washington DC, as an in house engineer, and they told me architect but it turned out CAD bunkie. So I was converting hand sketches into CAD models, reviewing engineering shop drawings. And over time, I my responsibilities expanded to include the design side, which really did resonate with me. So I was assisting in the design of some of these projects, and then some of the construction administration. So loved it, love the small kind of creative design environment, you know, love the family business, but still was attracted to the smaller companies and felt like I had a lot to learn and really enjoyed the sort of tinkering and creative side. So in a bit of a pivot, I left came back to the San Francisco Bay Area, which was sort of home to me and where my family was living and joined a medical device startup as an r&d engineer, which is very different from commercial architecture, but very much in line with the Product Design training, I actually had a number of classmates from my undergraduate program that were all working in r&d and medical devices. So there, I helped design a breast cancer biopsy device that we took from early prototypes through to FDA approval, and then initially, early commercialization to try to radically improve the quality of care for women and the 3% of men with breast cancer. And that was my first experience in the world of startups and loved it love the kind of chaos, the creativity, the sort of focus on hyper growth. I ended up leaving there, going back to Stanford to get my MBA. And over this sort of time at that med device company, it was a pretty wild journey that I went from r&d engineer to board member to help him flip it through a bankruptcy restructuring while I was back at Stanford Business School. And as a newly minted, overconfident over optimistic MBA, I took the job as turnaround CEO, trying to kind of kickstart this, this new entity and bring these products of the former company to life. Well, that was a very humbling experience as a an operator and sort of managing and trying to scale this turnaround effort. So I cut my teeth in startup operations and management. And in parallel, and starting a business school, I started doing venture investing, I would sort of chalk it up to ANGEL or super angel investing. Yep. And it was primarily backing fellow classmates and young alumni that we’re launching businesses out of some of the school programs, people that I believed in sort of solutions, I believed in and wanted to help provide that early seed capital. You can say that I timed my MBA perfectly, I started September 2008, and came out June 2010. So as you know, the world was burning. You know, we were getting our MBAs. And it was, you know, a great time from an innovation standpoint that, you know, people with concerns about what the job market would look like, and decided to take on that, that risk of trying to start new ideas. And so I was fortunate to be in a position to help support some of those companies lead a few of the seed rounds, and continue doing that while slugging it out in the med device world. I wish I could say that the med device journey was a screaming success. And you could read about how everyone made billions off of it. But fortunately, it’s one of those that have to sort of chalk it up to experience. And it proved the impossible task, at least for me. But in those three years is turnaround CEO, I think I was fortunate to learn more than most over sort of a lifetime career. And that really helped me appreciate the sort of challenges that CEOs and founders face. In our case, it was sort of a turnaround, a bit of a cleanup effort. And so as I continue doing this angel investing on the side, you know, I would be able to have these sort of PTSD moments where I would tell these war stories, in an effort to try to help advise some of these founders how to sort of set things up right from the beginning and hopefully avoid some of the challenges that I was facing in this turnaround role. And, you know, I loved sort of the the daily battles of the med device company, but quickly found that my real passion was in investing. And sort of working with multiple founders helping get these ideas off the ground, and sort of taking more of a human approach to investing. And so when I finally had to throw in the towel with the med device company after it nearly killed me. I took over the office space and open up a incubator and co working space for Stanford entrepreneurs. And focus full time on this this angel investing. I joked and said I was the Stanford slumlord. Lot of fun, we had about 15 different startups, various stages in there. And I started to scale my own personal portfolio of investments, sort of industry agnostic sort of mixed bag. And when I got to about 40 companies and new ventures, you know what I wanted to do, I thought that was my calling. I thought I was decent at it and Um, time would tell how good I was at it. But I realized that the world didn’t need another sort of generalist, super angel. And I fundamentally believe that in order to really be successful, as an investor and a firm, and be able to secure access to the best deals, you need to have an institutional venture structure. I think it’s it just encourages good habits, instead of being purely an angel.

10:30
And I believe that the future of venture really was for the early stage, the sector specific funds that to really carve out and own a category as the must have value add investor, that was the topic expert. And so I was doing a bit of that soul searching exercise to figure out where it I have kind of a unfair advantage over other investors, where did I have some competitive differentiation based on my knowledge, experiences and background? You know, where is there this opportunity to hopefully build out a world class early stage venture firm, and at the same time was sort of trying to piece together that picture, I looked at this legacy portfolio of portfolio companies to see if there were any common trades between the breakout performers. And lo and behold, the embarrassing realization was that the sort of common thread was that they all fell into what is now brick and mortars, investment thesis and narrative. We get branded as the construction tech VCs. But more accurately, we like to say that we invest in emerging technologies that help improve the way that we design, build, operate and maintain the built environment. So that’s architecture, engineering, construction, facilities management, property management, and the like. I was fortunate that of my first three investments in the construction tech space, I was the largest investor in the seed round of PlanGrid, which was acquired by Autodesk for 890 million. I was one of the largest investors in the seed round a building connected, which also was acquired by Autodesk. In that case, for just shy of 300 million. I led the seed round of a company called Rumbek. X, and actually gave the founders their first two desks, in my co working space. And then was fortunate enough to be able to participate as an early investor in a number of these these really early some of the first real case studies of innovation in the built world space of sort of construction tech. And so, you know, that sort of vision became clear. And set off on trying to build out initially, just the brand reputation and track record of brick and mortar ventures, sort of gambling with my own money, wanting to demonstrate to others that there was opportunity and hopefully validate my own intuition and judgment. And then in time, after getting conviction around the, this sort of investment thesis myself, the plan was to go out and try to raise commitments and the backing of LPs for a, you know, our first institutional, traditional venture fund. This was around 2015 2016. And as we went out, to try to fundraise and gain the interest of LPs, when we talked to traditional returns driven investors, they, they believed that, at some point in time, the world of construction would need to innovate and adopt new technology to become more efficient, sort of reduce costs, have better predictability around schedules and project delivery, improve safety. But the real question was, was it going to be in this fun life? You know, we were betting against all of history at that time, that construction as an industry was going to change and going to get better and that the billion dollar ideas of the future were being created at that time. When in those conversations, we found that the returns driven LPS just couldn’t get across the finish line. But when we talk to corporate strategics, we would typically meet them as you know, they’re sort of consulting firms. We’re hosting them for a Silicon Valley pilgrimage. And we would put together demo days or just sort of working sessions where we shared a bit of a view from brick and mortar ventures, the construction tech VCs, and in the case of most of those, we would be interrupted in the presentation. And these corporates would ask us if we were accepting investments. And many cases, they said, Where the hell have you been? We need your help, can we partner and so that that helped sort of solidify, an early view that we had, that there was great value and potential of creating a, a firm that was entirely backed by corporate strategics, the exact same people that were the end users of the technology. And then this sort of, you know, sort of hailing back to the the Stanford product design approach of user focused design. By having these sort of industry leaders, as are committed LPs, and developing intimate working relationship and trying to assist them in their own digital transformation journeys and sourcing new technologies and figuring out how to work with startups, we were continuing to develop our competitive advantage over other early stage investors. And that this was part of our secret sauce was working with the industry, the industry shapers to understand their problems, and continuing to be advised by them. And leverage that in evaluating our deal flow, and then hopefully also facilitating a path to market for the startups that we thought really were the best in class and leading technologies. So in December of 2017, we did our first close of our first institutional venture fund. That was one month after we saw the first sort of near unicorn status exit, and that was when Oracle bought a Kinect. And actually, that was a $1.2 billion acquisition. So I was broke into unicorn status before that. There had not been a single exit above a billion dollars, which is why some of the institutional investors were skeptical.

17:12
In the construction tech space,

17:13
you know, they’re in Yes, in the construction tech space in general. You know, up until it’s big, oh, thank you. But we got, we still got a long ways to go. But more and more as the the market validates sort of startup valuations. And now we’re starting to see the exits as well. More and more, we’re getting comfort that we’re not crazy people that are believed they’re ahead of the pack. But turns out, they’re setting out on a lonely journey that no one else is going to join them on. The we thought that we hoped that we were the first to get to a party, instead of the people standing out in the field, you know, hopelessly saying, Oh, I know where they’re coming. They’re coming, they’re coming, the exits are coming, the follow on capitals coming. You know, our, our focus was always on early stage and sort of being typically the first institutional money in. And it’s great, because you’ve got the opportunity to really help shape and ensure the success of these businesses and really make sure that they’re establishing product market fit, especially in our model of matching them up with the sort of industry shapers, but a real risk there. And one of the things that kept me up at night was the concern about being able to secure the following growth capital, because that also historically wasn’t there, you can imagine that a fund with more than a billion dollars under management might be reluctant to invest into a sort of category that had not yet even had a billion dollar exit. Right. Not going to return a fund in that way. Sure. You know, we we took the stance of saying it’s it’s, you know, naive or disappointing to say it’s never happened. So it’s not going to happen, right. And so, today, you know, we’re proud to say that we’re investing out of our our first fund a pool of capital, just shy of 100,000,097.2. I don’t want to round up with fear of being committed fraud, but, you know, entirely corporate strategic backed. There’s no family office, no traditional institutional investors. It’s a bit of a for us by US firm. And we’re really honored to have the backing of some of the global leaders across the construction value chain, ranging from sorry, yeah, how

19:42
much influence do the corporates have over your investment decisions?

19:48
Yeah, I would, I would clarify and say no influence. They don’t have any control over their operations. But you know, we look to their sort of guidance and our we have A monthly sort of deal flow update calls with our LPs, to sort of check in compare notes, because many of them have spun up their own corporate venture arms. But to sort of check in and test some of our logic and run some of our ideas by them, because, you know, if you look at our team at brick and mortar, we’re very unusual that for the five of us come from construction, sort of professional backgrounds, that, you know, over time found ourselves in this intersection of startups and new technology, or process improvement. And nobody else on the team has any venture experience. And I would say that I’m sort of a self taught, learn from the streets, which could be considered they’re good or bad. But, you know, we we clearly, over any other venture firm have a deep sort of knowledge of the intricacies of the construction industry, but I was very cautious of becoming sort of complacent or arrogant in our knowledge that every day that we’re venture investors is another day since we’ve actually worked out in the construction field or the industry itself. So, you know, our our LPS influenced us by being a continuous source of information of what is happening right now. And also, what does the future look like, you know, our our LPS have visibility into the future needs. Whereas, you know, there’s always a risk for us that we’re looking for a faster horse, instead of knowing that the you know, the internal combustion engine is coming.

21:44
Yep. Yep. So, the ideal entry point for brick and mortar then is, I mean, seed Series A, and what sort of check Are you writing? Yeah,

21:53
seed in Series A, you know, we typically invest once there is a working proof of concept, and the teams are ready to actually go out and pilot with a large, sophisticated customer, to really try to pressure test it and refine the product. Yep. Average cheque sizes so far have typically been around two to two and a half. We’ve invested as little as 900,000, in one case, and then as much as $5 million. As an initial check,

22:30
is there a preference to lead or? Or does it

22:35
typically, is there’s not? I would say not always a preference. But typically, since given our focus, we we see the opportunity before most generalist investors would be able to get comfortable around a solution. Got it? You know, in many cases, we’re investing pre revenue. And it’s typically enterprise solutions. And so you can imagine why most VCs, if they look at an enterprise solution that is going to have unusually long sales cycles into an industry that has had a historical lack of spending on new technology, and very little productivity improvement over the years. That’s maybe a risky bet. But you know, coming from our knowledge of the industry, and then also vetting it with our LPs, we can look and we’d like to think gauge the likelihood of establishing product market fit before anyone else would be able to get comfortable there. Right? In many cases, especially with software, the tools and technologies that will dramatically improve the productivity of the construction industry and facilities. We’re not talking about building a flux capacitor, or splitting the atom. It’s, you know, it’s just making leveraging tried and true technology, purpose, building it to address the unique pain points of the construction industry. And I’m usually reluctant to talk just about the construction industry, because it’s, there’s separate verticals within construction, and they’re very different. Yeah, building a single family home is nothing like a nuclear power plant. Right? You know, you got workers and you’ve hopefully got designs, but you know, the workflows, the contract types, the number of different interested parties or regulations, it’s all very different. And you want to make sure that you’ve got the focus and you’re developing the right solution for whoever your initial target user group is. And there’s some times where there’s processes that span all of those verticals. And other times there’s opportunities to actually go after a full vertical itself and be a full stack solution. Hmm,

25:00
yeah, massive opportunity in a lot of legacy industries that, you know, haven’t seen a lot of the Silicon Valley Tech yet. And, you know, maybe we’ll just dive right in. And to start, I just have to say, you know, I suspect that the impacts of, of this crisis that we’re dealing with, on on the built world, specifically, maybe more profound than we can possibly imagine. And I’m not even going to pretend to know what those might be to try and predict them. But can you talk a bit about what you’re seeing now? And I know, it’s early days of the crisis, but, you know, talk about what you’re seeing now and what that could mean for the future? Yeah.

25:42
Again, it’s, it’s helpful to kind of keep in mind of the differences, the different verticals within construction. As you’ve seen these shelter in place, orders be rolled out across the country, usually on a local basis, sort of city wide, or maybe region, and in some cases, state level. The exclusions from the shelter in place will be for what are deemed essential activities are essential businesses. Yeah, and in most cases, construction has been deemed an essential business, in the sort of early days is, you know, it still is a very fluid, sort of situation. But in the early days, it was mostly kind of a blanket exclusion for construction in general, saying, we need to be able to continue to build the infrastructure and the assets to sort of support society. Over time, you’ve seen some cities, and I can I can speak more fluently about San Francisco. They have added additional guidelines and sort of restrictions around the, to the shelter in place orders, and of drill down, say, you know, not all construction is imperative. It’s not essential, you know, poolhouse aesthetic extension. That’s, that’s not essential right now. Yeah, right. But what we do need, what there is a pressing demand for right now, is medical facilities, and affordable housing, and homeless shelters. And we also need to make sure that if people are sheltering in place, those shelters are functioning. So sort of tied to all of that you’ve got elements of construction that are not just, you know, deemed essential businesses, but you know, they there is demand and increased spending, and sort of a real flurry and trying to figure out how to we deliver those assets? How do we address a surge in demand for hospital services, when we don’t have enough beds, you know, how do we, you know, now try to figure out how to rapidly house the homeless, you know, homeless homelessness has been a major issue in, you know, many different places across the country. But, you know, something that people were sort of trying to figure out over time, and now all of a sudden, there’s a real urgency to fix it and say, you know, you can’t shelter in place, if you don’t have shelter. We also can’t have people quarantine, in sort of medical facilities or beds, if we don’t have enough room for beds. And then also, you know, you got to make sure that you can keep the lights on. And that, you know, if you’re, you’re hoping that people continue to be prod productive, you got to make sure that they’ve got data connectivity, you got to make sure that they can stay in touch with the world that, you know, are our essential services can be supported with the infrastructure they need. So there’s, there’s elements of this sort of built world industries that are demanded more than ever right now. Yeah. And actually, in some cases, in ways that just sort of unprecedented, you know, people are using their homes more now than they ever have, because typically, they were at work, and now they’re working from home. And so it’s, you know, while there’s certain verticals that are getting hit, yeah, I don’t think there’s a lot of people building new commercial office buildings right now. You know, there’s there’s major demand in other areas. And, you know, I think it’s, it’s exciting to see that with some of the new technologies or new workflows, and even I would say, sort of vertically integrated contractors out there. There’s a need or there’s a need and also a potential to respond to this crisis, faster and sort of more cost effectively than ever before. Some of the things around prefab we’re particularly excited about you know, we’ve some of the efforts in places like China really highlight that how quickly you could see these massive medical facilities go up leveraging prefab construction, in a matter of days and You know, that wouldn’t be possible with traditional stick built construction. And so you’re seeing now a sort of forcing function, deriving this innovation and the sort of digital transformation that previously for some people in industry had been more of an aspirational thing, right. Over the last five years, we had seen that tone change from innovation as aspirational for construction players that, you know, some we hope to become more innovative, or we hope to go paperless to then a real sense of urgency, because they were seeing competition, do it now, to a position where it’s being mandated. And so there’s a real forcing function there. Sure, you know, to give to give some of the just parameters here or background to give you a sense of some of the numbers. Can see construction is an $11 trillion global industry that has largely seen no productivity gain over the last 30 years productivity per worker, versus industries like manufacturing that have seen dramatic improvements. You’ve seen the lowest it spent per worker. And as a percentage of revenue of any industry, you see the highest level of data of any industry tied with media and entertainment. And you also see from a digitization level, that is the least digitize industry tied with hunting and agriculture. So now when you’re talking about how these projects, and particularly mega projects have gotten so complex, and are so large, it is pretty surprising to see those those numbers in some of these reports coming out, really highlighting how far behind the industry has been. But if you look, the last two years, has been a sort of tectonic shift, and things are moving fast. And so it’s it’s exciting. And one of the things that really, you know, gives us confidence that we’re investing in the right category, and we’re investing in the right time. Sure, since that the Oracle acquisition a connects, we’ve now seen three unicorn exits. We’ve got the first new tech IPO of construction technology Procore filed its Aswan recently, we’ll see what happens with that, in the current conditions

32:33
could be tough for a bit, but yes, maybe we’ll have this year. But

32:38
you know, this is, you know, we’d like to say, you know, we’d like to think that the investments that we’re backing in times like this are more important than ever. And you know, because if your solution you’re trying to sell into this low risk, I sorry, high risk, a low margin, very competitive industry don’t improve productivity, productivity, lower project costs, or improve safety. Good luck trying to sell it to anybody. And when times are tough, it is more important than ever, that you forget how to be more productive, that you’re you are safer and the way you do it. And that you can give greater confidence to your end customers that you’re going to deliver as promised. And hopefully get paid as promised. And then rinse wash, repeat.

33:32
Yeah, I was just chatting with one of our CEOs the other day, who doesn’t have a construction tech startup per se, but he’s doing augmented reality, and it’s for a lot of manufacturing, as well as remote applications and their remote application product has exploded, you know, it’s it’s for experts that are you know, in like a central facility that are coaching, you know, somebody in the field on how to do something that’s quite complicated. Exactly. All of a sudden, that funnel is like exploding. So it’s

34:04
Darren and that’s, that’s something that’s, you know, now a requirement because figuring out how to do people remote, but that’s that’s been something we’ve been tracking for a very long time the concept of the remote expert because there are certain nuanced topics that you might have only a handful of people in the world that really know what they’re talking about. And instead of flying that person to the jungles of Borneo, it would be great if you could enable this concept of the remote expert. Yep. And allow them to see what you’re seeing. And you know, there’s many ways one one can just be using FaceTime that’s better than nothing. It’s better than a person explaining to the car mechanic Yeah, my car is making this clunking sound and it sounds like this right? Another level is being able to layer on that sort of augmented reality like situation being like okay, here. Cut the red wire. Don’t cut the blue wire. No, okay, let me show you. And you know, the next one and is being able to have the remote operation of Smarter equipment and rice and then eventually full automation. So, you know, it’s it’s figuring out how to do more with less. And you know that that enabling the remote expert, it might not be someone all around the world, it could be somebody that just no longer can make it out to the site. Sure. And we’ve got an inherent problem that the the sort of workers in construction with the tribal knowledge are aging out. And there’s a generation coming into the workforce that doesn’t know righty tighty, lefty loosey. But they know technology. And so the tools and technology allow you to keep those that are aging out in the game longer. Or to capture that knowledge and be able to transfer that knowledge. You know, there’s there’s a, an imperative for that right now.

35:53
Yeah, I will not make an analogy to warfare, but we’ve seen, you know, technology become almost like a simulation or a game in that arena. Right. And, to a certain degree shit, I have never wished for a pandemic to force, you know, technological evolution, but we’re seeing it in front of our eyes. And it’s, it’s, it’s shocking. And it’s, it’s also astonishing to see. So, Darren, I’m curious, you know, do you think interest in demand is going to client, sorry, interest in demand is going to decline for living in cities and or congregating in places that have, you know, high population density? Oh,

36:37
that is a tough one. There’s, you know, pontification can always be fun and risky at the same time.

36:45
I’ll listen back and three years and see if,

36:48
you know, I think there’s pros and cons, to living in the sort of centralized areas or densely populated areas, again, talking are in our backyard, San Francisco. That’s where the best medical facilities are, you know, if you’re going to have an issue and need medical help, do you want to be out in a rural area, you know, an hour drive from the post office and two hours from a medical facility? Or do you want to be in close proximity to, you know, a leading sort of medical research or academic hospital, you know, the convenience of living in those cities, you know, there’s challenges, you know, from a safety and security standpoint, naturally, if you’ve got a high amount of people in a small area, that means that, you know, things can touch people faster, you know, impact more people and touch people faster. But there also is a way then to try to implement certain protocols or protections and service, a much larger group of people, if you need to provide support, instead of having a massive distributed area, that you need to either deliver goods or actually have a face to face with people, you can serve a much larger sort of population in a closer area. So I think that there’s there’s sort of pros and cons, but, you know, undeniably, people are looking, you know, in multifamily buildings or looking at the elevator buttons in a very different way. And so I think, you know, there’s smarter people than me trying to think through what are more sustainable solutions, you know, in the case of COVID-19, absent a vaccination or cure, even if we’re able to get infection rates, you know, low to the point that we can, you know, provide sort of medical treatment, or the support that we need to people, there will always be the risk to high risk patients of, you know, extremely painful outcomes there. And so we’re need to find a way to try to protect those high risk patients, you know, the low risk patients, you can sort of think about it if you’re young and healthy, say, Well, I’m not going to be end up in the hospital or if I am on a bounce back, like always, do you the part of the solution or part of the problem. Yeah, you know, there’s plenty of information out there that ACMF a symptomatic sort of patients help spread the disease, the virus and so you know, while you might bounce back yourself as a young whippersnapper, you might unintentionally spread add it to a high risk person. So there will be a need to figure out sort of what those businesses usual in life as usual look like, while there are, you know, there is an immediate concern, like COVID-19. And then also having seen this happen now in recent time, right, I think that, hopefully it remains top of mind is saying, you know, how do we do a better job of trying to avoid or prepare for this in the future? Washing hands is a pretty easy one, hopefully,

40:32
write some of the basics, and then hopefully we can get some better organized plans from the top. You know, I think we’ve seen some of the countries that have seen these types of viruses spread, you know, we’re much better prepared, right, because they’ve seen it before, and they’ve suffered. So, you know, Darren, you’ve mentioned this a couple times now, but I’m curious, how do you frame the construction tech space at the firm? Right, you’ve mentioned that there’s a number of sectors, there’s some sub segments, you know, within this category, can you give us a framework or a lens, by which you’re looking at the construction space?

41:11
Yeah. So, you know, very high level, a solution needs to help improve productivity, or safety and construction, because that ends up being dollars and cents and safety of, of the sort of stakeholders involved. You know, ultimately, we need to figure out how to reduce the cost of capital projects, because the demand for new infrastructure over the next 20 years and the amount of capital that will be available to fund that new infrastructure, there’s, I believe, there’s about a $15 trillion spending gap. I don’t quote me on that, or if you do, I’m going to put a big Asterix after it saying I could look that up pretty easily, because there was a good report, but, you know, there’s a real issue that we don’t have the money to be able to fund sort of construction, as usual, to meet the demands of critical infrastructure, you know, over our lifetime, and so, either we’re not building it, or we got to figure out how to do it better. And so, you know, there’s, if a solution doesn’t make a sort of job site safer, or more productive, and I would also add, have a lower carbon footprint, you know, we’re bet we’re designing and building better environments. And we’re doing that more efficiently. And more safely. You know, those are the requirements we need to see. Going back to sort of breaking up the world of construction, or just the built environment, a different verticals, we look at it from like a spectrum of complexity that we would say on, on sort of the the left end of the spectrum, you know, the lower complexity from regulations, number of stakeholders involved, complexity of the design, you’ve got sort of single family residential. Moving further up, you’ve got multifamily and light commercial, and then you’ve got more complex convert, commercial, and then you’ve got data centers, research labs, infrastructure, and then sort of defense in space. Sort of, there’s a threshold below which we think the future is potential for full vertical integration. Of those verticals, single family homes. You know, if we get to the point where you can build a home, like a product, using the analogy of the automobile industry, you know, the automobile is one of the most amazing sort of feats of engineering and manufacturing, that we can create something so impressive for a what all things considered is a very reasonable price. That, you know, most people are, I would say, most Americans around the world, it’s not the same situation. I think, average American household has something like two and a half cars. You know, that’s, that’s impressive for the engineer. It’s in there. And the way it’s done is that they the sort of designs are standardized around certain models. They’re engineered, you know, sort of over engineered, they’re validated for safety and performance. And then the manufacturing processes and controls are in place to ensure that you are able to continue to, you know, build and replicate that design that had already been validated across all the is different requirements. It’s why you can, you can sort of order a car that’s built for yourself and receive it within a couple of months. And it doesn’t have to go through all the safety ratings again, right now, it was built to spec and spec was already approved. If you selected your own configuration, and you kind of get your custom car, it’s a configuration of a limited number of option packages for a certain model. You know, we we believe that’s the future of single family homes, and we have

45:28
an investment, how far off are we off from that? Not

45:31
that far. There’s, there’s several people doing it. There’s, you know, complexities around it. And some of their tried and true you know, the there were early people trying to do prefab housing. You know, Mamo rad zener, was one of the early names that you know, sort of always on the cover of the dwell magazine is beautiful homes, you usually see them out and sort of desert of Palm Springs. And yep, you know, the belief was that by doing prefab, you could reduce the cost, improve the quality and reduce the carbon footprint, yep. But when you start manufacturing building scale, there’s challenges that you typically have a sort of serviceable area, or feasible area of distribution, beyond which the benefits start being outweighed by the logistical complexities and costs, right, you know, if you, if you built a an entire house in one go, and you were trying to deliver it across the street, you might be able to do that. So

46:28
that suggests that future models are going to be built on site.

46:33
Different ways. And so you know, the couple of different schools of thought, and we see this in, you know, sort of manufacturing consumer goods is that you can sort of manufacture or have third parties, manufacture components, or produce sub assemblies, or modules. And those could be assembled in a final assembly place, or it could be assembled in the sort of wherever it’s ultimately going to be used, you know, going, going back to my medical device days, and when, if you go in for surgery, don’t look in the corner and see somebody sharpening tools and molding plastic and creating a handle and assembling it and then measuring it making sure they did it right. There might be pieces that they put together there, there could be a durable component, and then a disposable component that goes together. So there’s some sort of final assembly that happens. But there’s a complex supply chain, and you know, control manufacturing of all the different components. And, you know, the the final area where it’s packaged could also be receiving it from 30 different vendors. You know, there’s that’s one of the possibilities that you’re receiving sort of manufactured components, and those get installed in the site, you can do flat pack construction, where sort of, you know, truck shows up in, you pop up the walls, and they all snap together. Or there’s volumetric, meaning we shipping modules. We have a portfolio company called Connect homes that was going from the module approach, saying, You know what, there’s a lot of sort of case studies that show you can’t make a house in California and ship it to the Hamptons, and expect that it’s going to be cheaper than traditional construction. Like if you’re shipping oversized modules, you’re restricted on what roads you can go through, you may or may not need flaggers. So people driving in front and behind this truck, there are certain permits that are required. Accessibility is a challenge. And so you need to get around some of those challenges. And one way to do it, the way that connect homes does it is they standardize their modules around the intermodal shipping network standards, this sort of shipping container dimensions, there is a very impressive global distribution network that knows how to handle shipping containers. And you can send a shipping container anywhere in the world for about seven and a half. $1,000 sure there’s somebody else that can get a better deal. And if they have it, please let me know. But that’s one way of saying, you know, we’re not doing the entire houses one. Yeah, we’re also not doing all these little components or sub assemblies that need to be popped together, right? We’re gonna do modules, so we minimize the amount of time that people need to be out on the site. And when those come together, we just pop them together. We can do beautiful construction, we’re doing it in a controlled environment, though. We’re doing it in a factory like setting, prefab, or manufactured housing has a negative stigma. You know, people immediately think about sort of certain levels of quality, but it’s Somehow, when we’re talking about vehicles, there isn’t that that same sort of stigma, of course, you are getting a manufactured vehicle, but people talk about the engineering, this is an engineered vehicle, and, you know, look at this photo of the manufacturing facility like that viewpoint, you’re gonna get a better product than a one off hand build thing. But

50:23
it’s funny how the false start, in a way, you know, creates this image and this perception of something. And it’s hard to get away from that, you know, even in the tech world, I can’t think of a great example. But you know, web then killed the opportunity for gluten free delivery for so many years, it probably could have come earlier than it did. But there were just so many people that, you know, poo pooed it and said, you know, this is not and wasn’t ready.

50:48
Yeah, the market wasn’t ready for it. But, yeah, it’s so yeah, it’s, you know, and the sort of pontificate looking at the future of construction. And this is, again, the current situation with COVID 19. The sort of essential businesses, those that are sort of allowed to and are expected to work right now, are being required to have sort of social distancing protocols and procedures in place, that is very difficult out in an uncontrolled environment, you’re trying to add control to a dynamic environment that has accessibility issues, right, all of that, if you do it in a facility. Instead, if you have a manufacturing line, you know, just like, most people’s familiarity with manufacturing, unless you’re in the industry, is, you know, photos of automotive lines. You know, you maybe see some of the robotic automation for other consumer goods. But when it’s controlled like that, you can, you can help control the environment in a better way. Medical devices, semiconductors, you know, many things in the life sciences space, they function in a controlled environment, people have a quality system in place where you get suited up, there’s sort of a decontamination procedure, you’ve got pressurized rooms to ensure that you’re dealing with sort of sterile products, or you’re not, you know, potentially going to have an electrostatic shock on a PC board. This is tried and true, but it just historically didn’t happen with construction. But if you put it in a, a factory like setting now you can introduce those same protocols. And so how do you ensure that you sort of future proofing? Construction? That’s that’s definitely one way to do it. And then you can centralize procurement and equipment and tools. You can, once it’s on an assembly line, you can start evaluating the workflows better and figure out and sort of fine tune where can I do this better? Where is there an opportunity to create a fixture or a jig that lets me do this better? You know, can I introduce robotics, it’s very difficult to take robotics out in the field right now, you know, dropping a Cuca arm is going to be tricky, you spend all the time kind of calibrating it. Now there’s, there are some other very impressive robotic sort of applications and construction UFC, in our portfolio that you can take out in the field. But you know, those those need to be durable and kind of purpose built to navigate and survive the harsh environment of a construction site. And if you’re building a factory, it’s very different sort of parameters you’re dealing

53:48
with, you know, this is just an interesting point, you’re talking about robotics and you know, applications in the field. We at new stack, we invest in a lot of deep tech and hard tech, not specifically construction, but we look at we see a lot, right, really early stuff precede stuff. But what’s your take on like the heavy industrial heavy machinery and or robotics, right, where maybe the original tech and the novelty is more than the mechanical design? Let’s assume there’s some IP, but there’s no software. So it doesn’t look like your typical venture scale opportunity. Right? Like, like an example could be a brand new excavator that has more power, less energy, better speed, some really novel IP, it’s 10x more efficient than, you know, in some applications than than your traditional excavator. But all the novelty is more in that machine, or that robot. You know, our venture partner here, Mark lad, who actually, you know, has some parallels with your background. He likes to call these the gears and gas startups versus, you know, the digital software, which What’s your take on these?

54:56
Yeah, so you know, the It used to be in the early days that you’re cutting edge technology for construction, you had a shovel instead of using your hands, that was attachment, and then came along the steam shovel. Like that was a major advancement. And so what’s funny is if I think, you know, when you talk about robotics, in construction, there’s a number of people that worry and say, Oh, no, I’m gonna lose my job. Or it’s, you know, there’s not gonna be a human out there. Robotics, to a certain extent, have always been there, you know, smart equipment and tools, when the second you change it and say, next generation equipment, or tools, you know, few people are fighting and saying, No, I really want to dig that hole with my bare hands. No, they want an excavator. You know, instead of hammering nails, people have nail guns. So, you know, the the world of construction is used to tools, and there’s just ways to make those better. And there’s ways that you can help protect a worker and make them more efficient. You know, there’s some great stuff that’s in development and academic research institutions, there’s great stuff in our portfolio. That, you know, it’s it’s the best applications, or some of those solutions is focusing on the dole dangerous or dirty work, that the things that people don’t want to be doing or shouldn’t be doing. You know, there’s a number of those kinds of solutions. And then there’s the repetitive tasks as well. There’s a couple of great startups focusing on autonomous construction equipment or excavating equipment. Same goes for the mining industry, you know, we’re, there’s a lot of focus and attention going on autonomous vehicles for you know, autonomous passenger vehicles. And, you know, we’re still not quite there for, you know, many years, it’s always supposedly five years away. Autonomous vehicles have been in use in the mining industry for close to 15 years now. It’s a very different condition, you know, you’re out in the middle of nowhere, there’s very few people, and you’re kind of going from point A to point B, and you might need to make a couple of turns. But, you know, depending on the environment, you’re going into, you know, some industries and situations are better suited for robotics, right. So there’s, there’s a lot applications there exoskeletons, you know, you can jump to thinking about aliens. And, you know, person sitting inside this, like powered exoskeleton. But you also think, like a weight belt, you know, that is helping support a person’s structural, you know, skeletal system. And then there’s variations of passive exoskeletons powered exoskeletons. And that allows people that are doing manual work, to do it in a safer way, or be able to sort of augment labor and turn them into super humans. So a lot of opportunity there. There’s certain things that humans are still better at than robots. Sort of initial positioning, humans can still navigate that a little bit better, they sometimes have better judgment, if you’re trying to feed your hand through a hole and reach out to something and it’s a little bit easier and faster sometimes then having to position a robot calibrated, have it sort of do its thing to figure out the objective and position itself, right. human can do that pretty quickly. But the last sort of final touch point like where the tool is, with robotics, computer vision, you know, a whole host of technologies, you can typically do the finish work in a much better way, welding transcripts. During my undergraduate years, I actually was in the product design program, I took up welding became a welding instructor and taught a bike frame building class. So near and dear to my heart. It is an RGB skill. Yeah, it is an art form. Yeah. And you know, a human is trying to gauge you know, with a helmet on that if basically their lights on or lights off, you can’t see anything. You know, if you, if you’ve got a auto darkening helmet, it’s a little fancy, you can kind of before your torch sparks, you can sort of see where you are and set up where you want to go. You light the torch, it’s a blindingly bright light. This sort of darkening comes on, you can sort of see where you are, and then you’re trying to leverage this tool and the heat and the position of the torch to make sure that two things that you’re joining together, are being heated roughly the same and then you create a weld pool by adding additional material and you want the weld pool to be consistent with them. That’s the width is supposed to be the same thickness of material, you’re doing this all based on vision, and sort of using vision as an indicator of material properties and temperatures. That is a perfect scenario for a robot to be able to do the job using sensor sensors, or we’ve seen some great solutions of leveraging augmented reality, you know, High Dynamic Range imaging layered into a smart helmet that provide the personnel they need, provide guidance, so that instead of them eyeballing the width of a weld pool, you’re actually seeing guidelines and sort of, you know, green light, orange light, red light, if you’re moving too fast, you know, or whirlpools, getting out of skew, have temperature sensors, start, you know, turning the person into, you know, Iron Man, with the heads up display. You know, there’s great applications there. I personally don’t believe in a future of a humorless job site. But there will be smarter tools and equipment, some robotics, drones for certain information, and the humans that you have out there will now be armed with tools and technology that make them superhuman. And so that’s, you know, I think that there’s great applications for robotics, you know, the, from a computer vision standpoint, we’re already seeing great advancements where, yeah, typical job site, you got a plan of what you’re supposed to build. And more and more, that is not just a 3d model, but people talk about 4d are five d, BIM modeling is the buzzword, right? Building Information Modeling? Yep, that layered on to that three dimensional design, instead of that just being sort of a solid surface model, you have individual components that have attributes, and that might have a schedule attached to it, or cost attached to it, or a spec sheet that you can pull up. So more and more, we’ve got great designs of what we’re supposed to build. But construction is about knowing what’s actually out there right now. What have we done so far? Did we do it correctly? Is it within spec, you know, what are the next things I need to do? So if you got a detailed plan of what’s supposed to happen, if you can get a detailed 3d 4d Or five D model of the as is conditions, that’s very powerful when you can compare those sort of like, you know, redlining on a document, but now you’re doing it with the physical world around you. And the more frequently, you’re able to collect that data and build a model of the current physical conditions, the more that you can look for changes over time, you can evaluate progress, you can confirm that works been done, right. And that’s, you know, that whole sort of concept of reality capture is very exciting, has very exciting implications, you because you’re you, you make your best guess of the schedule that you’re going to hit. And there’s a whole water flow. And so if you’re able to kind of do this reality capture over time, and see, hey, actually, the framing of the walls is running a little bit behind, which means the, the mechanical, electrical and plumbing work is gonna go in the walls, and then the drywall guys need to hang it, and then the painting that happens in the finish work, that’s all gonna get pushed back. It’d be nice if that schedule was dynamic. And you could sort of take some of those cues and some historical data performance data, to be able to sort of move things around and figure out, you know, where can we pull things up, you know, the schedules, were always destined to slip because there usually wasn’t a mechanism by which if you finish a task ahead of time, you could alert and pull people in, right? You were expecting to get the drywall people in tomorrow, and you finish the day early. If you call them and say I want you in the day early, they might have another job. But if a month in advance, so you can see that you’re trending towards being done early and you have a high enough confidence in it based off of the models and progress you’re making. You can hopefully alert them so that they can accommodate and that you start pulling the schedule faster. Anybody who can finish ahead of schedule or under budget, they’re doing a fantastic job.

1:04:36
And so you know that that computer vision allows you to hopefully have a better understanding of exactly what’s going on. To whatever extent you can automate it, you’re reducing the amount of people that actually need to go walk around with a clipboard, to just to tell you how things are looking. And then there’s certain things based on contract type. Oftentimes there’s progress payments that are made Based on project completion, right now, people walk around and inspector walks around and says, Yeah, you know, I’m looking at the plan. I’m walking around the site. Yeah, it does look like it’s 30%. Done. Okay, call the bank, call the lender, tell them it is 30% done, they can wire the next progress payment. It’s, you know, there’s some real inefficiencies there that as you can start digitizing the sort of physical world engage progress, you know, there’s some real gains from a productivity standpoint, there are workflows. So, you know,

1:05:41
switching gears a bit. You know, we’ve seen our President talking about major infrastructure bill for a number of years. Seems like with stimulus now. This is the opportunity. Do you think this this bill gets passed? Have you been following this, I’ve got to imagine this is, this could be a big tailwind for construction and infrastructure, some of your portfolio companies.

1:06:11
I, I’m always cautious to weigh in on politics.

1:06:16
Not your pen, just just yeah, just your forecast. The

1:06:23
you know, historically, and in many countries, you see that during times of economic recession, many people, you know, many governments will elect to use that time as an opportunity to invest in infrastructure, either improving existing sort of decaying infrastructure, we could sort of describe that as deferred maintenance of sorts, we’re building new infrastructure, because those are things you know, people, you’re not just building a, an airport, for the sake of building an airport that you’re not going to use. There, you know, there’s usually a long list of new infrastructure that’s needed to be constructed. And when you’ve got the need to inject capital into the economy, and to the ultimately into the pockets of the citizens, and you’d know that you’ve got work that needs to be done at some point in time. And typically, the sort of availability of labor and labor prices will oftentimes be available and available at an attractive price. It’s sort of a win win win. And so I think there’s definitely a possibility. There’s long been the need for increased infrastructure spending. So we’ll see, I would not be surprised if it was passed. But not surprisingly, the government legislators can have their hands full. So we’ll see. You know, the, how would that impact the portfolio? Unclear that’s that’s a whole nother question. Again, going back to the different types, you know, the different verticals in construction and different contract types, sort of construction jobs that have government funding, and just about any country. And keep in mind that in I think, every country, or to play it safe, I’ll say, most countries, the single largest customer of construction, is that country’s government, right? Usually, since you’re spending the money of citizens or money that would otherwise go towards supporting your citizen. And since there’s oftentimes a lot of requirements around processes and sort of various protocols. So as a result, it can be a bureaucratic situation. You know, the, with permitting, for instance, just for residential construction, you know, we we all live with, you know, a variety of collaboration tools, and the ability to have simultaneous collaboration on cloud based documents that you can review and annotate and track changes really easily. There’s still a lot of paper based processes that you were required to do and required to use certified mail. You know, the lien waivers and lien notifications. That’s still being done certified now. So there’s obvious ways that you can speed that up. It’s, you know, if you’ve ever come in contact In contact with a situation that you’re required to send in a fax, or they need a wet signature, what I still don’t understand is when you can send in a scan of a wet signature, but you’re not allowed to use an electronic signature solution. There’s, there’s a lot of inefficiencies in getting getting sort of government agencies to evaluate and adopt new technologies and change existing workflows is a challenge, we’re seeing that happen. But yeah, they’re under different pressures. And, you know, it’s, I’m not going to pretend to understand the challenges that, you know, local, regional and federal agencies are under that’s, that’s not my area of expertise. But we just see in general innovation, there’s, there’s people that innovate at their sort of leisure, that it’s, they set their schedule, they do it themselves, others, it’s aspirational, and sometimes it’s forced upon them, either by competition or mandated. And in some cases, they don’t situate situations like this a crisis. Right now, collaboration tools are booming right now. And that’s because can’t go to the office. You know, it’s, it’s unfortunate, but at the same time, you know, out of necessity, we are training, you know, an entire country on how to work effectively, or at least give it a college shot, to try to be productive while not being able to meet in person. Sure, I think there’s going to be great positive benefits there, that’s it’s going to change, you know, what we think of as business as usual. And, you know, I’ve seen it firsthand, you know, outside of construction in different industries, people that historically thought there was no way to do video conferencing or leverage, you know, paperless workflow, now, all of a sudden have to do it and say, well, actually, I didn’t think we could do this, or I didn’t know about that tool, people are being forced to do their homework and look for solutions, and invest the time and energy in evaluating the solutions and trying to realize how to best utilize it. And it’s the difficult thing is in business, in most cases, you know, when you’re busy, you know, trying something new could just be a distraction. And we see this a lot with construction, you know, typically, with construction, there’s bid based nature of the work, which means without knowing all the information, you’re doing your best guess of how you think you can do you know how quickly and what kind of a cost, you’re going up against other people that are trying to win the work as well. If you win the contract, it’s then a race to try to get it done. And while the sort of corporate or project management, maybe has the desire to try to experiment and implement new tools, when you ultimately get down to the project level, the person who’s actually doing the work, there might be a tendency for person to say, not not today are not at my job, like, you know, I got, I got a tough schedule and a tougher budget to beat. And, you know, I are confident if I stick to what I know, I can get it done. But you want me to play around with this newfangled technology, like, I can’t guarantee that I’m going to hit my targets. And so, you know, when it is forced upon you, and people give it a chance, you know, it’s a great way to really pressure test a solution to see if it does solve the pain point. And it also is the forcing function that, you know, users or could be users. You know, they they utilize the demo. You know, they pay attention to the demo, they they, you know, really test things out during trial period. And, you know, you might be able to teach an old dog new trick.

1:14:09
What’s one thing that you know, you need to get better at

1:14:18
you know, as early stage investors, both the firm and then my own past, through the sort of self taught angel investing. It’s always early stages. It’s during the sort of ideation phase, the initial product development, sort of product market fit stage. You know, I was I was always less interested in the later stage growth phases, and just sort of saw our task as always being the ones to help sort of set up launch and get a business to the point where we could To sort of gain the interest of multiple sort of lead investors that could help take it from scale up to exit, right. And that that has worked fairly well. But I think there’s definitely an opportunity to get more involved in managing the later stage, potentially even investing in the later stage, I will admit, I am not the person to help navigate preparing for an IPO. That’s not my strength, and I don’t have any experience there. The acquisitions from within our portfolio, handle those, those are my first real acquisitions we’ve been through and, you know, fortunately, that was with, you know, having a number of great board members and people that were more experienced than me and sort of navigating those sort of negotiations, discussions and some of the structuring of it, you know, in an effort to make sure that we are maximizing the return on, you know, our own investors capital, you know, that’s something that, you know, I should be more fluent and more experienced in and, you know, the sort of experience comes with time, there’s a lot that can be gained by sort of drawing upon the expertise and wisdom about the people that have been there. But it’s something that I’m really hoping that we’ll be in a position to, you know, continue to add value in the later stages.

1:16:30
And finally, here, Darren, what is the best way for listeners to follow you and connect with you.

1:16:37
If you’re at a construction tech conference, or roundtable, or you know, happy hour, one of us is likely there.

1:16:49
But not to write,

1:16:50
you know, we’ve got a online submission on our website, we actually read that it goes to everyone on the team, but also, my email is just Darren at brick mortar.vc. And love to hear from everyone. Awesome, you know, our goal is to try to make sure that any innovator in the world, you know, in the global sort of landscape of construction, facilities, innovation, we want them on our radar. And we spend a lot of time working with companies that are not a fit for us as an investment either because the stage or you know, they don’t fit squarely in our wheelhouse, but we continue to try to mentor and advise and add some value, because it’s, it’s a small ecosystem out there, we’re really focused on reputation, and that person that maybe has an idea that’s not a fit for us, at that moment, might come back in a couple of months and have a great idea. And that will be an investment, or that person might know the next, you know, heavily sought after opportunity. And hopefully, it can, you know, will speak fondly of us as you know, a great partner, even to those outside of the portfolio. And in our effort of trying to serve our own LPs, and then the broader network of sort of construction professionals and organizations out there, we always want to be in a position that when someone says I have a problem, what can help me, we want to be able to recommend solutions that would work. It’s it’s tough to keep credibility if it always happens to be one of our portfolio companies. So you know, there’s a lot of great solutions out there that are not a fit for us as an investment but could be best in class and be something really valuable to one of those sort of broader partners. And so, if you’re working in our world, we’d like to know about you.

1:18:37
Awesome. Well, this has been a real pleasure, I think, you know, there’s there’s a huge need for what you guys are doing at brick and mortar. And I think, you know, if we hop on a call again in five years, there will be many more unicorns than just the one that you cited earlier. So Well, thanks a lot. Darren, this was a real pleasure, and I look forward to keeping in touch. All

1:19:02
right, thank you very much, Nick.

1:19:08
That will wrap up today’s episode. Thanks for joining us here on the show. And if you’d like to get involved further, you can join our investment group for free on AngelList. Head over to angel.co and search for new stack ventures. There you can back the syndicate to see our deal flow. See how we choose startups to invest in and read our thesis on investment in each startup we choose. As always show notes and links for the interview are at full ratchet.net And until next time, remember to over prepare, choose carefully and invest confidently thanks for joining us