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Construction tech firm founded by Darren Bechtel raises $97 mln

Brick & Mortar Ventures, a San Francisco-based venture firm focused on construction tech, has wrapped up its maiden fund with $97.2 million in commitments.

Brick & Mortar founder and Managing Director Darren Bechtel, who has construction and engineering in his family tree, told Venture Capital Journal that he came up with the idea for the firm four years ago when he was using his own capital to build up a portfolio.

Among the startups he seeded in 2012 was PlanGrid, which Autodesk bought last year for $875 million. His other initial construction tech company investments were BuildZoom, BuildingConnected and Rhumbix. “After making some initial investments, I knew I needed to institutionalize and carve out a unique category,” Bechtel said. “Brick & Mortar Ventures is now going after the the construction services world for the build environment.”

Bechtel is the great-great-grandson of Warren A. Bechtel, who started the Bechtel engineering and construction enterprise in the early 1900s and which is now led by Darren Bechtel’s brother, Brendan Bechtel. However, the Brick & Mortar firm and the fund are independent of the family business.

Bechtel

Bechtel said he put personal capital into the fund and is its largest investor, but he also recruited a number of LPs from the construction and engineering world. Fund backers include Ardex, Autodesk, CEMEX, Ferguson Ventures, FMI, Glodon, Haskell, Hilti, Obayashi, Sidewalk Labs and United Rentals.

Bechtel said the global LP base will help the firm find deals.

Since the firm started investing and raising money for an institutional fund in early 2018, Brick & Mortar has now built a portfolio of 16 companies. This includes Curbio, a Potomac, Maryland-based real estate tech company that helps prepare homes for sale. Brick & Mortar co-led the company’s $7 million Series A deal with Camber Creek.

The firm’s portfolio also includes ManufactOn, FieldWire, Serious Labs, Connect Homes, Timber and SafeSite, among others. Brick & Mortar aims to lead seed and Series A rounds, writing checks of between $1.5 million and $5 million, with reserve capital for follow-on investments. Bechtel said he hopes the firm will invest in about 25 companies with the initial fund.

In addition to Bechtel, the firm includes Senior Associate Austin Yount, Associate Alice Leung and Principals Curtis Rodgers and Kaustubh Panda.

Bechtel said there is no shortage of deal flow internationally, but the primary geography focus of the fund is the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. He said the firm looked at 750 potential deals last year, and he estimates there are some 2,600 companies in the construction tech category.

“One of the benefits of having a narrow thesis is that we have pretty quickly built a global network as we comb the world, looking for deals,” Bechtel said.