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Boston Smaht 2024 Q1 Recap - VC Edition


Brian Vaughn | Co-Founder

This past Tuesday, Boston-based venture capital firm Building Ventures was kind enough to host the Boston Smaht crew in their office for our Q1 event for 2024. It was a great way to kick off the year, and our conversation spanned BV’s investment thesis (in neon lights), current market conditions, the built environment startup landscape, the Boston tech ecosystem, and culminated in a lively “Ask the VCs Anything” Q&A session. Thank you to our Steering Committee members Heather Widman, Partner at Building Ventures, and Sara Shank, CEO/Founder of Seventh Street Capital for organizing this event. Thank you also to Jesse Devitte, Co-Founder & Partner at Building Ventures, and Lucas Turner-Owens, Principal at Building Ventures for hosting and sharing your knowledge with our group.

Before we dove into the future and the emerging tech in the built environment, it was fitting to learn that our host space is owned and leased to BV by the Foley family. The same family at the helm of the oldest family owned and operated pub in Boston, J.J. Foley's Cafe located one floor below. Also notable, BV leveraged portfolio company Canoa to fit out and furnish the space, and utilized portfolio company Join’s “converged network as a service” for their connectivity needs in a commitment to walk the walk when it comes to circularity, adaptive reuse, and smart buildings. 

Heather, Jesse, and Lucas took some time to share the story behind Building Ventures and their thesis: namely that we must continuously improve how we design, build, and operate our built world in order to drive better outcomes for people and the planet, providing examples from their portfolio.

Fun takeaways for future discussion:

Heather would like to get more buy-in to some terms for the industry:

BuildingTech > PropTech:  BuildingTech is more inclusive in describing many of the technologies we all engage with

Sapling Stage - The traditional Series Seed, Series A, et al conventions have lost their meaning. Sapling companies are ones that have sprouted, but are still early enough where the expertise and nurturing hand will greatly impact the company's growth.

Great Ask the VCs anything Q&A.

  • Who is your favorite from your portfolio?

  • What is the "Building Tech" startup landscape like in Boston compared to Life Sciences, FinTech, and others?

  • How is the market landscape changing and what are some recent impacts?

  • How can large companies support the startup scene? (My personal favorite)

  • well as a handful of others.

I'd get into the responses, but you kind of had to be there.

In keeping with our Boston Smaht mission, we had a great mix of people representing owners, architects, engineers, startups, large vendors, operators, energy efficiency, and venture capital. We are all brought together by our interest in a more intelligent conversation about buildings. Being able to share a space and some time together with this diverse group is why I feel confident that our goal of ensuring everyone learns something new at our events is achievable.

So, one more thanks to everyone that came out. Looking forward to sharing shortly our plans for Q2 event. If you are in the Boston area, please make sure you are connected on our LinkedIn page, Boston Smaht. If you are not from the Boston area, but interested in our group, please check out Building Intelligence Group to find a chapter near you.

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