The construction industry experienced a fair amount of turbulence during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, but things are beginning to change for the better.
As the industry continues its recovery, many new opportunities are emerging for young entrepreneurs and startup companies.
Here are eight interesting opportunities for newcomers looking to build a future in the construction industry.
Construction technology — “contech” for short — has the most potential to revolutionize the world’s building strategies. Construction has always been among the slowest industries to adopt new technologies, but that trend is finally starting to change. Contech saw an estimated $50 billion in investments from 2020 to 2022 alone, 85% higher than the previous three years.
The sudden demand for contech can be attributed to several factors. The goal to build climate-resilient architecture requires more advanced technologies, and companies also need more tools to compensate for the global labor shortage that has persisted post-COVID. The industry has over 300,000 job openings in the United States alone.
Additionally, digital standards are changing in order to create a more connected industry.
There have been many highly successful contech startups in recent years, dealing with everything from sustainable material production to supply chain logistics to advanced construction robotics.
The construction industry has had a negative reputation for pollution for a long time, producing about 39% of global carbon emissions every year. Once again this long-standing trend is finally starting to change thanks to a widespread push to reduce waste, transition to more sustainable materials and invest in renewable energy sources.
Startups can make a huge difference in their communities by providing these services to local projects. For example, emerging environmental-focused companies are providing zero-emissions energy storage systems, carbon capture technologies and new organic materials to help builders minimize their resource consumption.
3. Employee Safety and Productivity
Construction is a dangerous profession by its nature, and there is still a lot of room for improvement. Startups can help with these improvements by providing new tools and insights to maximize workplace safety and productivity. In fact, small-scale operations can have a massive impact on construction safety because they can focus on just a handful of projects at a time.
Artificial intelligence has been the most useful safety and productivity technology for start-ups, putting them on an equal playing field with larger competitors. Many emerging companies are developing their own software solutions that monitor worksites and individual employees. Wearable devices like smart helmets will become mainstays on construction sites in the coming years.
For startups who want a traditional pathway into the construction industry, landscaping is an excellent choice. This sector has always been in high demand, but the demand has been steadily growing by about 5% in each of the last five years. Residential and commercial projects alike are putting more emphasis on pristine outdoor spaces.
You can quickly build a successful landscaping business in your own community by investing in work tools and executing a clever marketing campaign. For example, many landscaping startups emphasize speed and sustainability to set themselves apart from larger competitors. Landscaping has been the starting point for many construction companies to build their brand identities and reputations before expanding to other sectors of the industry.
5. Building Design
The pre-construction design phase is another sector where startups can make a huge impact. Improving collaboration and efficiency in the design process will help projects become more safe, affordable and sustainable. Startups can provide everything from basic workplace communication tools to advanced site planning technologies like building information modeling.
Building information modeling (BIM) is a new method of planning buildings that turns blueprints into interactive three-dimensional worlds where designers can immerse themselves in the project. Emerging companies like Dusty Robotics, Buildstream and ARUtility have led the way in popularizing this new technology, and your start-up could be next.
6. Project Management
Post-design project management is another world of opportunity for entrepreneurs interested in construction. This phase of construction is often the most hectic and disorganized due to the numerous moving parts, but a capable startup company can simplify things by providing new management apps, software and analysis tools.
For example, the startup company OpenSpace has made a huge impact in just a few years. It started in 2017 with the invention of an automated 360-degree photo monitoring and mapping system, and in 2021 it received a $55 million investing round to make its tracking technology available to all customers.
7. Supply Chain Management
Supply chain disruptions have been a huge problem for the construction industry, but startups are introducing new solutions to coordinate the movement of tools, equipment and materials. Companies like Infra.Market and Madaster provide online marketplaces, registries and payment platforms that simplify transactions between companies around the world.
While online transactions are becoming more efficient, centralized platforms from companies like Terane and BuildSort make it easier for industry professionals to track their orders throughout the supply chain. Project managers now have greater visibility over everything, from the order’s original source to overseas shipping to local deliveries.
The SuN Takeaway
The construction industry might be an essential part of our global infrastructure, but it has to address many flaws. Your startup can make an immediate impact in these seven sectors of the industry by introducing new ideas and innovative technologies. Build your own legacy in construction and start making plans.