Tracking progress on construction sites has remained a major challenge for the $1.3T construction industry in the country. This problem turned into a business venture opportunity for the ‘Flying Superintendents’ a team project of civil engineering and computer science students that developed a prototype under the Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellowship in 2016. The prototype is now a growing startup company-Reconstruct. The startup raised $7.7 million in Series A funding with Cultivation Capital as a lead investor in May 2019.
Reconstruct is changing the way the construction industry operates. The startup is helping construction projects stay on schedule and budget with the use of predictive analytics, and a visual production management system that enables builders and planners to compare 3D models of the current job site with plans, and highlight locations at risk for potential delays. The platform’s 3D timelines enable real-time coordination among general contractors, owners, and lenders. Reconstruct was recently listed among the 50 hot tech companies globally in 2019 by Crunchbase.
Reconstruct was co-founded by Mani Golparvar-Fard, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, Computer Science, & Technology Entrepreneurship and Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellow, and Derek Hoiem, Associate Professor of Computer Science. “The FEF program was instrumental in creating the time and space needed to get us up and running,” professor Golparvar said. The FEF program recognizes and celebrates faculty as innovators and entrepreneurs. In the program, the faculty members and a group of select students explore the commercial potential of the technology in a 12 month period.
Professor Golparvar added, “We worked with several graduate and undergraduate students on developing a prototype that was deployed for testing at $0.5B Sacramento Kings stadium with Turner Construction, the largest construction management firm in the U.S. The piloting of the prototype was successful and led to annual innovation award from Turner Construction, and was also recognized by World Economic Forum Future of Construction as the winner of the idea competition. The rest is history. We founded the company and things starting taking off from there.” Reconstruct plans to grow the use of the software into construction and inspection of infrastructure, oil & gas, and energy assets.
In addition to the FEF, the entrepreneurship ecosystem at Illinois helped the company in its early days. Professor Hoiem said, “First and foremost, the Cozad New Venture Challenge was a motivating experience for the students that helped us found Reconstruct, and encouraged the team to think beyond the technical development and about the potential for impact and commercialization. Also, quite a few investors learned about Reconstruct for the first time at the competition, and many still remember our presentation.” The team won second place in the Cozad New Venture Challenge, a new business venture competition, in 2016.
Illinois entrepreneurship ecosystem resources like the I-Start Accelerator program and EnterpriseWorks facilities were particularly helpful. “Beyond funding, the I-Start Accelerator program helped us organize the process of setting up the company and procuring services and encouraged us to seek help with business planning from Serra Ventures, who became our lead VC for our seed financing. EnterpriseWorks provided a great location and startup community to build our team,” Professor Hoiem said.
Reconstruct is expanding its product, sales & marketing, research, and development teams to support its growing customer base. It is also expanding or opening offices in Champaign, Chicago, and Menlo Park.