After years of the construction industry in a “flatline” of productivity, the construction industry is seeing more innovation and venture capital financing.
Haskell wants to be there.
So in 2018, Haskell founded Dysruptek, a venture capital and research and development arm of the company that seeks out and invests in early-stage technology companies that “disrupt architecture, engineering and construction.”
Jacksonville-based Haskell is an architecture, engineering, construction, and consulting company. The engineer Preston Haskell started it in 1965 and has grown to around 1,600 employees.
Dysruptek is a small, young component that focuses on three main goals: to invest, invent and innovate.
Cutler Knupp, Director of Strategy and Technology Investments at Haskell, heads Dystruptek.
The Jacksonville-based Dysruptek team consists of 14 people.
“The industry as a whole fell more or less in the direction of how productive projects were and how they were completed,” said Knupp. “There is a surge of venture capital that has flowed into the room, which has led to an influx of many startups and people from outside the industry with lots of good ideas.”
Dysruptek will test the technology in Haskell’s projects to see if it will benefit the company, and if so, Dystruptek will invest.
To date, Dysruptek has announced a stake in BLOX LLC and has become a limited partner in Brick and Mortar Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on engineering, architecture and construction management companies.
BLOX has developed the delivery method “Design Manufacturing Construct”. It designs, constructs and installs smaller modules such as operating theaters, examination rooms and bathrooms as well as outpatient and acute medical facilities. These modules are built off-site.
Knupp did not want to disclose an exact dollar amount, but said Haskell intends to invest “ten million” in technology that will benefit him and his customers.
Dysruptek invests in products that Haskell would use and measures success by both financial return and how a product helped a Haskell project work more efficiently.
Haskell became a limited partner in Brick and Mortar Ventures, which invests in technology on behalf of Haskell.
Knupp said the venture capital company has more knowledge of companies on the west coast and in the Bay Area, where startups are often located.
Dysruptek is looking for companies that will improve Haskell’s overall security, productivity, and data collection skills.
Haskell has set up an R&D innovation center in his Atlanta office to test and monitor pilot projects as part of the creation of Dysruptek.
“It is the physical space through which we can guide customers and show them the technology that we have invested in and that we have built ourselves,” said Knupp.
Knupp joined Haskell in 2018 when Dysruptek started. He saw this as an opportunity that was not to be found in many other places in the industry at the time.
“The fact that the leadership and board showed this strong commitment to defending Dysruptek and the willingness to get involved and invest in this area was unlike anything else I have seen in the market,” said Knupp.
The introduction of Dysruptek had a positive effect company-wide, according to Knupp. The rest of the company has a team to evaluate technologies in the market and find alternatives. It also sparked the creativity of the employees to find innovative solutions in their work.
The Dysruptek team often consults Haskell employees to find solutions to safety or productivity problems on construction sites.
“(The greatest value) is to allow our team members to express their ideas and cultivate their innovative mindset and to be able to implement many of their ideas on how we can be better organized and more innovative for our clients and customers Customers, ”said Knupp.
Knupp said Haskell will continue to benefit from the company’s venture capital division. Dysruptek has several goals for Haskell for the next year.
“We are working on making construction sites safer, protecting our employees and increasing productivity and efficiency,” said Knupp.