It’s been an exciting year for Building Ventures. We’ve made some new investments and celebrated exciting successes for our existing portfolio companies. And earlier this fall, we announced that we’ve raised our second fund dedicated to creating a better built world. In order to continue our efforts in finding and funding the brilliant entrepreneurs developing these solutions, we continued to invest in building our own team. To that end, I’m very excited to formally announce that Mayra Soto has joined our team at Building Ventures.
As you will see below, Mayra fits our firm profile perfectly. She’s deeply committed to the industry, with both professional experience in and a personal passion for construction. At the same time, Mayra’s commitment drives her to desire better for the industry and for our built world. Her tremendous belief in the importance of innovation and her enthusiasm for working with entrepreneurs aligns with our team’s mission to create a better built world by funding the startups improving the way we design, build, and operate our buildings. And if all of this wasn’t enough, Mayra’s also a really cool person.
We’re super excited that Mayra chose to join us, and we couldn’t feel luckier to have her on our team. She’s already an important building block for the future of Building Ventures, and I can’t wait to see what’s to come. I could continue to reflect on Mayra’s many skills and share my version of her story, but I think it’s better that you hear it from Mayra herself. We obviously loved what we heard, and I think you will as well!
What made you want to join the team at Building Ventures?
I was very happy to find a group of like-minded people who really care about the industry and the entrepreneurs who are following their passion and helping bring the industry forward.
The Building Ventures team at our BVIN Fall Summit 2022. From left: Gregg Wallace, Ceillie Clark-Keane, Jesse Devitte, Heather Widman, Mayra Soto, Travis Connors, and Allen Preger.
Personally, I also really value the experience of the team being long-time investors and having many years of experience in the contech space. I believe this deep experience is critical to ensure the success of the teams we will be working with. I’m looking forward to learning from the team and, in doing so, having a positive impact on the entrepreneurs we work with.
What are you most excited about working on?
Growing up, I joined my dad in many of his construction projects—and I’m happy to expand on that next. Because of this formative experience, I am most excited to engage with the LPs, visit some projects (if possible!), and learn more about the problems in construction that keep them awake at night. From those insights, I am looking forward to putting in front of them the best technology available in order to really impact and transform the industry.
Additionally, I am looking forward to leveraging my experience to help the entrepreneurs grow their business and navigate the contech space. Prior to joining Building Ventures, I worked at Stanley X focusing on strategy, investments, and acquisitions. I learned how corporations work—what are their internal challenges and how decisions are made. This differs little company to company, but large corporations face similar challenges, and these insights will be useful to the entrepreneurs that have these types of clients. Before that, I was the second employee and head of product at the contech startup HoloBuilder. I joined HoloBuilder pre-seed and helped build the company from 0 to 1. Like many entrepreneurs, I’ve worn many hats during the early stages of a startup, and I understand firsthand the challenges of bringing a product to market in the construction industry.
Lastly, I am very excited to learn about the proptech space, which overlaps with the construction industry. Building Ventures is unique in its focus on the full building lifecycle, considering contech and proptech as complementary and connected. I’m looking forward to learning more about the operate and experience phases of the building lifecycle—in addition to my focus on design and build. Because these are so often considered separate areas despite the clear overlap, I haven’t had the chance to be involved in or learn about proptech in the past, and I’m excited to grow in this area.
What initially attracted you to working in construction and construction innovation?
My love for construction developed early. As I said, I joined my dad in numerous construction projects when I was young. He has a construction company that builds roads and bridges, and he used to let me help out as the assistant of the topographer. After several summers of joining him in the field, I decided that I wanted to go to engineering school.
Mayra, of course, is the one hanging on the truck, with her father and siblings.
During my time at university, I took a course on innovation and productivity in construction. The main project of the class was to observe a construction process and come up with an idea on how to improve it. This was my first taste of innovation, and I wanted more. Once I moved to San Francisco and experienced firsthand the different innovations in other industries, I knew there must be a better way on how we build the world.
What motivates you to continue working on improving our built environment now?
I care deeply about the construction industry and for the people working in the industry and in the field who are day in, day out making the real world happen. I believe that as technology advances, new solutions will be developed that ultimately will improve the opportunities, quality of life, and safety of the people who work in construction. I want to be a part of driving the innovation and advancement to realize these better, safer working conditions.
Our mission here at Building Ventures is to create a better built world. What does that look like, in your opinion?
Construction projects allow everyone to experience the world in a different way, and yet many people are unaware of how much the built environment impacts their day-to-day lives. From the shelter we live in to the infrastructure we use for transportation, all of these essential spaces have been created by people working in construction.
However, many professionals in this industry work in less than optimal condition, facing long work hours, risking exposure, or bearing through challenging environments. A better world to me is a world where these professionals leverage technology to overcome these all-too-common industry challenges and improve the efficiency and safety of their jobs. In this world, our construction workforce is able to keep doing what they are passionate about—without taking on unnecessary risk.
It’s hard to think of improving the industry without considering the climate implications, because construction is one of the biggest contributors to our landfill and our carbon emissions. In my view, a better built world also involves finding new ways to reduce the negative impact of construction projects on the environment, whether that’s by using new materials, new processes, or even new technology that allows us to build in a more sustainable way.
What else are you excited about outside of work?
I am part of the community of Peruavians in Silicon Valley (PeruSV), and I have been volunteering in the organization of our annual conference Techsuyo for the last seven years.
PeruSV is a community of Peruvians in Silicon Valley working in areas of innovation, technology, and research. Our members include professionals working in big corporations like Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google, as well as entrepreneurs creating startups, professors, and PhD students. The primary goal of this community is to share the knowledge with other Peruvians and create bridges of communications between professionals here and in Latin America in order to help accelerate the technology transformation. Once a year, we organize Techsuyo, a conference that congregates the community and where we share knowledge within three different tracks: corporate, entrepreneurship and education. The conference has been hosted in different locations, like Stanford and MIT.
From left to right: Victor Cadenas, Omar Azañedo, Rosalva Gallardo, Mayra Soto, Victor Laguna, Renzo Sanchez-Silva, Omar Florez.
For this year’s Techsuyo, which took place in Miami this October. I had the honor of being the chair of the event. As part of the team of volunteers, we work all year to ensure the success of the conference. Now that the event has passed, we are finalizing some closing tasks and already preparing for Techusyo 2023, which we are hoping to host in Arequipa, Peru. Stay tuned!