Pitchfest Highlights Housing Innovation

In April, the Housing Innovation Alliance, LLC and the University of Denver – Daniels College of Business co-hosted the first in-person Housing Innovation Summit since the pandemic began. It was great to be back among friends and so many new faces to talk about opportunities for innovation in housing, hear real stories of what’s working and what isn’t, and make business and personal connections with some of the brightest—and nicest—people you’ll meet.

This year, we introduced a new program within a program, #Pitchfest, to bring new ideas to light, offer feedback that startups can use to advance their solutions, and introduce these innovators to potential advisors, partners, investors, and clients. A dozen companies made it to the final round, and four came out on top.

We’re excited to introduce you to:

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Soil Connect + Cliff Fetner, our winner for Design + Build

Cliff summed things up nicely at one point during his pitch by saying that Soil Connect is the “dating app for dirt” and a one-stop-shop for all your dirt needs. Soil Connect is a total management solution for resourcing, moving, tracking, and (coming soon) logistics. They make the process of moving dirt easier, create greater efficiency on the job site, and save builders and developers time and money. Who doesn’t like that?!

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On3 + Paul Cardis, our winner for Tech + Data

On3 uses AI to capture how-tos and from-the-field insights as micro-learning modules to help frontline workers build better. Their platform uses AI to create customized learning paths for each employee, and the V2 iteration uses AI headset technology to see what the worker sees and provide live support. Literally, on-the-job training—where it’s needed when it’s needed. As our workforce continues to age out and new faces join us on the job site, the availability of this type of training will be critical.

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FwdSlash + Sameer Sood, our winner for ESG

FwdSlash believes that housing is a health issue. They work with healthcare and community stakeholders to provide a more comprehensive solution for people who are housing insecure–access to a good place to live, social services, and healthcare support. FwdSlash acquires housing units with HUD credits and works with local agencies to provide the services these people desperately need. In the end, this greatly reduces the burden on healthcare systems and gives people a chance at a better life. Kudos to a doctor for coming up with a brilliant idea for preventative care.

FwdSlash is, admittedly, a little out of our scope. At the Alliance, we’re looking at how ESG can enable greater business resilience in production homebuilding and development companies that deliver market-rate housing. We want to enable housing that’s more affordable—not affordable housing. But this was too good—and important—of an idea to pass up.

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UrbanMachine + Eric Law, the People’s Choice winner

This startup is on a mission to give a second life to the millions of tons of wood waste from construction and demolition by reclaiming it into high-volume, locally sourced, premium lumber products. As someone who’s done a TON of home remodeling, it was super cool to see how robotics could do something that might take me hours—if it was even possible—in a matter of seconds. Everyone in the room lit up when they saw a video of the machine in action. The impact this could have on the amount of waste that makes it to landfills is undeniable.

Thanks to our friends at BLUE ROOM for powering the People’s Choice voting process and helping us engage attendees throughout the event through polling and Q+A.

Congratulations to all our winners, who will take home cash prizes, and all of our finalists who received some great feedback and made priceless connections along the way. The remaining finalists are AmatecAris HydronicsArxJobsToBuildLumenCacheStructureBotTraceAir Technologies, and Up&Up.

Find the original post on LinkedIn.

New: Podcast Series

Featuring each of the 4 winners pitch and Q&A. Plus a bonus episode highlighting snapshots from each of our finalists!