Join SymTerra’s co-founder, Sarah Crawley, on 21 March 2023 for an in-depth, under-the-bonnet exploration on investing in construction tech startups hosted by UK Construction Week. Register here to join the online discussion
Sarah will be joined by three expert panellists from The Nemetschek Group, Pi Labs, and Costain, who will be sharing their perspective on a subject that gets very little airtime in the construction sector.
In this webinar, Sarah will talk to three investors with very different backgrounds, to explore all the different ways to invest. On one point they can all agree – the value of investing in start-ups who will shape the future of the construction and infrastructure sector.
- Tanja Kufner, Head of Ventures and Start-ups at Nemetschek group
- Aarti Gupta, Head of Innovations Investment at Costain
- Hugo Silva, Principal at Pi Labs, a global VC investing in the future of the built environment
From traditional venture capital to non-financial investments, it’s a chance to learn from the experts about the often-over-looked part of construction’s digitisation journey, hear how they are doing it and inspire future investors, startups and contractors.
Against a challenging economic and legislative backdrop, contractors and companies across the supply chain increasingly view digitisation as key to business survival.
To accelerate the digital transformation of construction, SymTerra, a construction management software that allows for real time updates and reporting from site, launched in March 2021, and secured pre-seed investment from several globally recognised investors a year later.
Today, SymTerra is widely used across 250 UK-wide projects by over 154 different companies – on projects as diverse as major platform extensions for Crossrail and highways maintenance, to a refurbishment of a caravan park in North Wales.
Sarah, a former site manager at Mace, along with fellow co-founder John Ryan, a chartered mechanical engineer on Crossrail, had spent a combined 25 years in construction and infrastructure, before taking the leap as tech founders to build a better, easier way for construction companies of all sizes to run their projects faster, safer, and more efficiently.
The duo has been focused on building the platform to make it accessible across the whole supply chain, especially focusing on those in the sector that have largely been left behind by digitalisation.
Sarah said: “When you consider all the pressures on contractors and the entire supply chain, from economic and cost concerns to new regulations and codes in place, digitisation is impossible to ignore – and having the right digital tools and access to the right data will be key to survival.
“The huge volume of positive feedback we get from users is clear proof that ground-up access to digital tools designed for fieldwork is not only hugely needed but has been long overdue. We’ve got front-row seats to the Contech sea change, and it is only the beginning.
“Yet, the fundraising journey to help us scale our product and build the right team to take it to market was not always straightforward. We really want to give more airtime to the conversation around investment in construction tech, in the hope we can help to inspire the next wave of innovators who can help the sector become more resilient for the future.”
Here Sarah shares some learnings from SymTerra’s fundraising journey.
What was your biggest challenge in the start-up journey?
Sarah Crawley: We built the platform ourselves, starting out with just the two of us and a dog, working in a spare room. As we developed the product and started to work with a number of clients, we quickly saw the value of what we were offering. Feedback showed us that the market was hungry for a simple solution to managing construction projects to make them both commercial and legally defensible in today’s world, while taking a huge paperwork pain point from their teams on the ground.
We knew we needed fundraising to develop the platform and build the team, so that we could start to make SymTerra accessible to a wider audience.
“Resilience, determination, and patience are key”
But fundraising was tricky. We didn’t have an ‘investor network’, so we really did start from square one (albeit with the confidence of a proven business model and happy clients under our belt)! We had to learn the rules of a whole new game and to know what was needed. After a lot of blood, sweat and tears, we started to find and speak to the right investors with the industry background knowledge and network, and things began to fall in place.
Resilience, determination, and patience are key – and so is having the guts to ask questions and acknowledge the limits of our expertise. We actively sought out other founders who were in or had been in a similar situation and spent time with investors who were happy to give us guidance and direction.
What’s one piece of advice would you give other founders or future founders?
Sarah Crawley: Being open to the learning part of this journey is key, but also, I would advise founders to think deeply about how they communicate their product to investors. When we first started on this journey, we spent too much time describing our proposition in terms of what we thought was attractive. What we really needed to talk about and prove was the enormity of the challenge we were trying to solve, and how widely we thought the product might be used, i.e. how scalable it would be.
We’re excited to motivate others who might be thinking about starting their own venture this year. Construction is evolving at such speed and there is so much talent, passion, and curiosity in every part of the sector – that we hope this message reaches anyone currently developing a new concept that will help connect the dots and empower more companies and people on the digital journey. We also hope it reaches contractors thinking about working with construction tech businesses.
Join Sarah Crawley, co-founder of SymTerra, on 21 March 2023 at 11am, for a motivating discussion with investors helping to shape the future of the sector.
Register here to join the online discussion.
A Build in Digital stakeholder, SymTerra is a construction site management software firm that provides a simple, instant and integrated method for the entire supply chain of any project to communicate, collaborate and capture vital information at the point of work.
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