Sustainable and AI Concrete Startup AICrete Announces $4 Million Seed Funding
Through use of AI, AICrete is poised to reduce concrete emissions by up to 35% and drastically increase industry profit margins
RICHMOND, Calif. , Sept. 21, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- AICrete, the only recipe-as-a-service platform optimizing local materials for cleaner and more cost-efficient concrete, announced today that it has raised $4 million in a seed funding led by CLEAR Ventures and VoLo Earth Ventures with participation from Cortical Ventures and one of the world's leading manufacturers of concrete and building materials. In connection with their investment, Vijay Reddy, Partner at CLEAR Ventures, and Kareem Dabbagh, Managing Partner of VoLo Earth Ventures, will join the AICrete Board of Directors.
A trillion-dollar industry, concrete is the second most consumed substance on earth after water and is responsible for 8-10% of CO2 emissions globally - more than 4 billion tons of CO2 every year - the same amount of global emissions produced by passenger cars and three times that of aviation. The changing availability and variability of concrete raw materials as well as environmental conditions lead to inconsistencies in performance and appearance resulting in extra production costs and customer dissatisfaction.
"The concrete industry is at a crossroads that requires it to innovate and optimize. AICrete's mission is to hasten the coming of age of predictable, cost-effective, durable, and sustainable concrete in real time," stated Parham Aghdasi, Founder and CEO of AICrete. "Through the use of AI, we're able to reduce emissions by up to 35% and at least double profit margins for concrete producers."
While concrete technology has advanced across quality control and operations, there has been little improvement in productivity over the past decades. Today, concrete experts with decades of experience use their 'intuition' to design mixture recipes by varying the proportion of ingredients that are tested for compressive strength and other characteristics. However, the winning recipe may not necessarily be the most cost effective or environmentally friendly option. Smaller-size concrete producers don't have access to such experts and need to rely on external designs based on limited experience and lab experiments. As a result, billions of tons of concrete are under-optimized annually, leading to wastage and sustainability issues within the industry. Further, skilled labor and mixture design experts in the concrete industry are aging out and retiring at a faster rate than the younger generation is coming in.
AICrete is capturing this expet intuition by automating data collection and experimentation with humans in the loop to bring the best practices and expertise of optimization and quality control to the entire industry by using AI. Instead of having to wait months to develop and confirm a mixture, AICrete's solution optimizes and validates a mixture in days and dramatically reduces material costs alongside the CO2 footprint by augmenting the current capabilities of concrete producers and their technical teams to discover and develop more advanced, cost-effective, durable, and sustainable concrete mixtures. At the same time, this approach satisfies all performance requirements and objectives of concrete producers, contractors, owners, and engineers. AICrete is combining data and AI with automation and robotics, and aims to make these optimizations in real time in the coming years. These measures also improve the supply chain issues plaguing the industry.
"Along with our funding, a Fortune 500 industry-leading building products company is investing with us," says Vijay Reddy from CLEAR Ventures. "We see this as a sign of confidence that AICrete has a viable value proposition business model and is addressing an unmet customer need. Building such an ambitious data platform needs someone with a unique blend of AI and domain knowledge. We were impressed by the founder's story; Parham Aghdasi has succeeded against all odds."
"AICrete technology is a great approach and should be of significant benefit to many concrete producers. The increasingly complex nature of material selection and proportioning, along with the continuing increases in raw materials costs as well as lowering the overall carbon footprint of concrete will mandate the need for this type of service to the R&D, quality and operational teams throughout the industry," said Martin Scheiber, Director of Manufacturing at Clark Pacific, a leading manufacturer of prefabricated building systems. "AICrete provided us with four optimized mixtures to choose from; the selected AICrete mixture has a targeted cost savings of 4-5% per cubic yard in addition to indirect R&D cost savings and the reduction of our carbon footprint by 17%, compared to the mix that we currently use."
Born and raised in Iran, Parham Aghdasi was banned from higher education due to his Bahá'í faith. Dodging raids and arrests while studying Civil Engineering at Iran's Bahá'í-run underground university, he became their first F-1 student to go directly to the US. Accepted by the University of Texas, Arlington for post-grad studies, Parham then undertook a PhD at Berkeley in structural materials, focusing on the development of concrete composites for projects ranging from building efficiency and sustainability in the tropics to deep, ultra-high-speed train tunnels in Japan. With years of experience in the concrete industry and a background in AI, he had the idea for AICrete: use AI to optimize concrete.
AICrete will use this round of funding to expand its paid proof of concept program to several key concrete producers to illustrate AICrete's current capabilities; expand its database and further improve its predictive machine learning models; as well as, automate data collection through the development of software and robotic systems. With these activities underway, AICrete will move closer towards its ultimate goal of developing vertical AI-powered software solutions for concrete optimization that increase efficiency gains, profitability, and sustainability.
AICrete reduces both the cost and environmental impact of concrete through a unique approach that leverages machine learning. Our recipe-as-a-service platform works with concrete producers to optimize local materials to minimize their concrete mixture costs and CO2 footprint. Located in Silicon Valley, investors include CLEAR Ventures, VoLo Earth Ventures, Cortical Ventures, and one of the world's leading manufacturers of concrete and building materials. Please visit aicrete.com for more info.
About Clear Ventures
With $330 million of capital from a world-class investor base, Clear is a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that helps startup teams win in frontier technology and services. Founded by veteran company builders and venture investors Chris Rust and Rajeev Madhavan, formerly of Sequoia Capital and USVP and founders of five successful companies, Clear provides early capital, connections, and company-building insights to bold startup teams so their ideas can grow into market-leading companies. Learn more at www.clear.ventures.
About VoLo Earth Ventures
VoLo Earth Ventures seeks to accelerate the new energy economy by addressing the planet's climate crisis at its roots and providing first-in funding and hands-on leadership to early-stage climate tech companies. VoLo Earth strives to grow, propagate, and capitalize on climate solutions with an intent to deliver superior investment returns and quantifiable carbon benefit. For more information, please visit: www.voloearth.com/
About Cortical Ventures
Cortical Ventures is an AI-focused venture capital firm focused on helping entrepreneurs building the next generation AI Companies. The firm was launched by Jeremy Achin (founder and former CEO of DataRobot) and Igor Taber (former Managing Director at Intel Capital, early investor and SVP of Corporate Development at DataRobot). Cortical Ventures' mission is to invent, incubate and invest in the companies leading the AI revolution. The firm is backed by leading institutional investors and VC firms, AI luminaries and top founders and operators in the industry.