Flux, a Google X spinoff, raked in $8 million in venture funding today.
The San Francisco-based startup produces collaborative-design software tools for the construction industry, with an eye on improving design knowledge and improve the availability of tools to construct more green and efficient commercial structures.
Flux is the first spinout from Google X, a top-secret, anything-goes invention laboratory. Most of the ideas hatched there die unannounced deaths, but Flux made the cut. Indeed, it received funding previous to this round from Google X.
“We’re coming at this with an audacious approach, which comes from the DNA of Google X,” said cofounder Michelle Kaufmann, a Princeton grad and architect fiend who cut her chops out of college working for building-design legend Frank Gehry in Los Angeles. “Our goal is to make healthy, durable buildings for everybody on the planet with software and data.”
The $8 million Series A round was led by venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, who now sits on the Flux board. Borealis Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz also pitched in.
“We cannot continue building the way we have. We need to leverage new technologies, massive data sets, and new processes to increase productivity, scale the scope of design, and improve the places where we live and work. The Flux team is a perfect example, with a powerful mission unlike any that I have ever seen,” Jurvetson said.
The Flux team is heads-down and working on the software, with an official release date set for sometime next year. Kaufmann told VentureBeat the city where this will launch, but it was off the record.
Flux described the collaborative process of building its toolset:
“For the past year, together with a dedicated group of industry partners, the Flux team has been developing a methodology capable of managing the full complexity of designing site-adapted, high-performance, and healthy buildings.
The process starts by constructing a relationship graph between the key building systems driven by owners’ business objectives. By powering the graph with data and algorithms, the system allows building owners to trade-off upfront construction cost with marketability, life-cycle operating cost, occupant experience, and environmental impact.”
“This company has the potential to affect the world in a significant way. I want to be able to tell my kids that I helped build safer, better, and homes for people that needed it. This company has more potential to improve people’s lives than any other software project I’ve ever come across,” cofounder Augusto Roman told VentureBeat.
Kaufmann said the idea, at least partially, for launching Flux was her utter exasperation at the lack of decent, affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area. In fact, Kaufmann joked the idea came about after bouts of therapy to wean her off the ensuing depression because Silicon Valley and San Francisco were so expensive.
Flux is anything if not ambitious. While she worked for Gehry, Kaufmann became enamored at the complexities facing the construction industry. The good-natured executive said Flux employs 15 but is ramping up. Quickly.
“If you know of anybody good, please send them my way,” she said.