Short Circuiting Construction: Scale Leads Dusty Robotics' $45M Series B
We are excited to announce that we have led the Series B in Dusty Robotics, which is building autonomous robots (or field printers) that assist in automating the layout process for mid- to large-scale construction projects. This announcement comes at a serendipitous time, shortly after an upgrade to our internal investment process at Scale. Describing innovative software and technology is hard. That is why we are including more visuals and videos in our presentation cadence. Videos of Dusty, with the little robot almost smiling at you, darting around a construction site and seemingly creating the impossible before your eyes, energizes a wonderful enthusiasm for the future.
Like all of our investments, it’s worth rewinding the clock several years. We have looked to increase our construction exposure since our investment in DroneDeploy in 2016. Construction represents more than $12 trillion in annual spend as one of the largest segments of our economy but is plagued by workflows that have seen little (if any) evolution over the past few decades. We believe that construction is ripe for automation as well as an increase in precision that manufacturing has undergone. What has been missing is the right technology.
Simultaneously, we are excited about innovation in robotics. Advances in the underlying software and connectivity combined with decreasing sensor costs have led to our investments in Locus Robotics and Soft Robotics. We particularly like robotics plays that replace skilled labor (vs unskilled) in markets that are growing or under high labor demand (e.g. e-commerce, construction)
Tessa Lau, co-founder and CEO at Dusty, is an early and well-respected pioneer in robotics. She developed startup scars building products that didn’t quite match product needs. That encouraged her to spend countless hours digging into the construction industry, interviewing dozens upon dozens of industry professionals, long before the first Dusty robot was developed. The result was a solution that met almost immediate product-market-fit. Thousands of industry professionals, inspired by those same videos, are reaching out to Dusty Robotics to explore how they can improve layout on their job sites.
Construction layout is the crucial step in any large construction project where the digital plans are translated into the physical world. The status quo today is days, sometimes weeks, of time, where trained (and expensive!) professionals use chalk and hair spray (chalk washes away - can’t make this up!) to mark the plans onto poured concrete guiding the work that construction crews will then follow.
And this is precisely where Dusty comes into play. Dusty bots can help construction firms that are strained to find talent to deliver layouts on their construction sites in a shorter amount of time for a fraction of the cost - and most importantly - at a level of precision that few humans can replicate (1/16th of an inch!). Risking the danger of hyperbole, Dusty is the Gutenberg Press moment for construction layout.
Scale Studio data shows that Dusty’s early uptake in ARR is top decile for its stage, and with an average customer contract size second to none, these data points speak to the immediate value that the team is already delivering. And in many ways, it’s still very, very early days for the business. Like many of our best investments, the Dusty team has a very big vision of how its product can expand from here to solve incrementally bigger problems for its customers.
Onwards and upwards, Dusty Robotics. We are incredibly excited to be working with you. And thank you to our new syndicate partners and friends at Baseline, RootVC, Canaan Partners, and NextGen Partners.
Originally published May 10, 2022.