Pillar Technologies, a startup bringing sensor technology to the construction space to enhance risk management, announced it has secured $425,000 in seed funding, making it the first venture coming out of Wentworth Accelerate to close external capital. This seed round included investments from the 1517 Fund and Insure.VC, as well as angel investors Anil Jha and Sam Altschuler.

With on-site sensors, Pillar Technologies allows contractors to keep tabs on their job sites. The sensors can detect hostile conditions on sites that commonly cause companies to lose money during construction projects, like high humidity and fires.

Pillar Technologies will equip contractors with real-time data about the environment at their sites. It sends alerts when conditions become dangerous and offers predictive analytics, so contractors can stay on top of their time and budget allocation. It also benefits insurance companies and property owners, who have a stake in a site’s safety. 

We followed up and asked them, ‘Well, what are you looking for?’

The company’s co-founders, who also include Sean Iacobone and Matt Joyal, met when they were students at Wentworth. They had started developing a concussion monitoring system as part of a class project and pursued it as a possible venture through Accelerate’s Startup Challenge.

“We saw a value add from the technology in sports and we wanted to understand how to take it from the classroom and lab into the real world,” Schwarzkopf told BostInno.

However, the Pillar Technologies team found out translating their technology into a product wasn’t as easy as they initially anticipated. So they pivoted. Twice.

A Pillar Technologies’ sensor.

“We realized there were a few things that would prohibit us from being successful,” he continued. “It wasn’t user-friendly… We realized that more and more through the program. We pivoted and took our concussion monitoring technology to the construction industry, where we first got an overwhelming ‘No’. It was an anticlimactic moment. But we followed up and asked them, ‘Well, what are you looking for? What problems do you face?’ It turned into our big pivot.”

Schwarzkopf attributes their ability to think on their feet and embrace change to Wentworth’s Accelerate. There, the co-founders learned to keep on asking questions and taking risks. “It changes the way you fundamentally think as an engineer,” he explained.

Monique Fuchs, co-founder of Accelerate and Wentworth’s associate vice president of innovation and entrepreneurship, echoed Schwarzkopf’s point. She told us, “What’s unique about Wentworth is that we don’t have a business school. Our focus is applied sciences… We’re taking that to the next level.”

Fuchs says the school, and Accelerate in particular, place an emphasis on helping students develop skill sets the modern job market demands. “We’re focused on coaching them on confidence, resilience and taking risks – all of which happen to be congruent with innovation and entrepreneurship,” she said. And taking advantage of pivotal points that otherwise seem like dead ends, just as Pillar Technologies did, is part of that equation.

Pillar Technologies is in the middle of a software and hardware redesign, following four months of testing they conducted with their MVP this past spring. In the fall, the venture plans to test their product once again with multiple contractors. Alongside the funding, Pillar Technologies also received an invitation to be a part of Autodesk’s BUILD Space Startup Incubator.