Diamond Age raises a $50m series A to robot-build houses – TechCrunch
Hot on the heels from its $8 million fundraise just a few months ago, Diamond Age is back for a top-up, with a $50 million Series A financing to continue its mission to make homeownership more affordable by using 3D printing and robotics technologies to make home construction significantly cheaper — a welcome change in a world where there’s a 7-million-home shortage in the U.S. housing market.
The company describes itself as a “full-stack robotics startup,” building a suite of tools that is designed to take the place of more than half of the manual labor associated with building a new home. The side-effect of adding a slice of robotics to the mix is that homes that used to take nine months to build can now be instantiated into existence in a month or so. The company has now developed 26 end-of-arm robotic tools, on top of a 3D printing system that can print concrete for exterior, interior and roof structures.
The funding round was led by Prime Movers Lab, which focuses on science-driven innovations. In particular, the investor gets excited about startups re-inventing energy, transportation, infrastructure, manufacturing, human augmentation and agtech. Seed investors Alpaca VC, Dolby Family Ventures, Timber Grove Ventures and Gaingels all invested above their pro-rata and are joined by Signia Venture Partners. Perhaps most promisingly for the company’s founders, 20% of the round was made up of home builders and land developers; it’s always a good sign when potential customers invest in startups.
Since its previous fundraising round, Diamond Age has massively advanced its tech, making it possible to print and build a 2,000-square-foot single-story home. No doubt impressing the investors and adding some fuel to the valuation fire, the company delivered its first scaled version of its system, as well as a full-scale 3-bed, 2-bath house in 11 months — 4 months ahead of schedule. This led to the company’s first contract with a national homebuilder, details of which the founders were tight-lipped about for now — but expect that announcement to come along soon as well.
“Affordable housing is impacting people on a global scale. As the average age for first-time homebuyers has moved from mid-twenties to mid-thirties, there’s an increased demand for more rental property — forcing the entire hierarchy of renters into a more competitive market for ‘quality’ housing,” said Jack Oslan, co-founder and CEO of Diamond Age. “Helping the next generation of homebuyers get into their first house faster helps the entire ecosystem of housing.”
Diamond Age will use the funding to continue scaling its robotics platform and execute on its first commercial contract to build homes. The company has already doubled in size and plans to add more engineering and fabrication talent. This will help Diamond Age partner with home builders and developers to turn home-building into an on-demand product and provide buyers with more options when designing their home.
“Diamond Age’s Factory in the Field system brings automation to the construction site to back fill the massive labor shortage in the home construction industry,” said Prime Movers Lab General Partner Suzanne Fletcher. “Jack and his team have hit key milestones ahead of schedule and are transforming the way production homes are constructed, so it was an easy decision for Prime Movers Lab to lead the company’s Series A.”