a16z Podcast: Construction Under Tech — The Build

Continuing our series on how tech is changing construction — one of the industries most resistant to change (and facing declining productivity) — this episode of the a16z Podcast looks at what happens when you go from planning to actually putting boots on the ground. How can tech translate rich data sets into the just-right types, amounts, and levels of information for each different piece of the incredibly complex, dynamic, time-and-space problem that is a building site? Productivity issues such as average cost increases of as much as 80% — and average delays of 20 months — for megaprojects in the industry make innovation an imperative. But how can that actually be implemented on a site?

Martin Fischer, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford; Saurabh Ladha, cofounder and CEO of Doxel, which uses AI to real-time measure progress and inspect quality on construction projects; and Christopher Rippingham, who leads technology and innovation leadership for nation-wide commercial contractor and manager DPR Construction discuss with a16z’s Hanne Tidnam how AI is introducing something fundamentally — no, foundationally — different for the construction industry: the feedback loop.

Propel Insurance Partners with Flexpoint Ford to Accelerate Growth and Support Strategic Acquisitions

Propel Insurance, one of the nation’s leading insurance agencies, today announced that its management team and employee shareholders have partnered with Flexpoint Ford, a financial services focused private equity firm.  Following the investment by Flexpoint, Propel Insurance’s current shareholders will retain a significant ownership.  The new partnership will build on Propel’s track record of organic growth and provide funding for the Company’s ongoing geographic expansion program. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Propel is the second largest independent insurance agency in the Northwest with six offices throughout Washington and Oregon. The Company is a recognized leader in providing innovative insurance solutions for its clients and has developed substantial expertise across a number of industry verticals, including construction, senior living, real estate, transportation, timber, consumer products and sports and recreation.

Kurt Carlson, CEO of Propel, commented, “We are excited about our next chapter of growth, and the capital base that we have put in place to support it. We look forward to continuing to invest in the development and growth of Propel and its service offerings, while adding to our team of industry experts via strategic acquisitions.” Carlson added, “Flexpoint’s deep understanding of the insurance sector and its access to capital will allow us to expand our geographic footprint and develop new areas of industry specialization. We will be actively seeking partnerships with agencies and select producers that share our values and entrepreneurial spirit and desire to join a growing agency platform with an exceptional team-based culture.”

Chris Ackerman, Managing Director of Flexpoint Ford, noted, “We have evaluated investment opportunities in the insurance brokerage industry for a number of years, and we are excited to partner with a management team with a consistent track record of successful growth and a shared vision for the future.  Propel’s emphasis on building a fully-integrated agency with a single culture has positioned the Company to achieve substantial growth in the coming years. We look forward to working with this management team, led by Kurt Carlson, to support and drive the execution of its client focused growth strategy.”

Michael Ferreira, Executive Vice President of Propel, added, “Our focus remains on providing expert insurance solutions and continued high-quality customer service which has driven extraordinary organic growth at Propel. We are confident that our alignment with Flexpoint will provide us with strategic resources to accelerate our existing momentum.”

Dominic Hood, Principal of Flexpoint Ford, added, “We look forward to supporting Propel’s effort to strategically expand the Company’s footprint beyond the Northwest. We believe this partnership will create valuable future opportunities for Propel’s employees, an increased level of service for its customers and exciting growth opportunities for carrier partners.”

Waller Helms Advisors acted as financial advisor to Propel Insurance and Harlowe & Falk LLP acted as legal counsel in connection with the transaction. SunTrust Robinson Humphrey acted as financial advisor to Flexpoint Ford and Kirkland & Ellis LLP acted as legal counsel in connection with the transaction.

Grove Street Advisors Announces $600M in New Commitments

Wellesley, MA – January 11, 2016 – Grove Street Advisors, a private equity fund investor with $5.3 billion in assets under management, announced today it recently closed three new investment programs totaling approximately $600 million. The commitments include follow-on vehicles for two existing clients and a new program for a public pension.

“We are pleased to launch these new programs as we continue to work closely with our clients to extend their reach and exposure to funds that are otherwise difficult for them to invest in directly, including both top tier brands as well as newer and spin-out teams,” said Frank Angella, a Managing Partner of Grove Street Advisors. “These new programs highlight the appeal of our customized separate account structure and demonstrate the success of our firm’s long-tenured management team, strategy and relationships with general partners.”

Each new program will be customized to the client’s specific objectives, but overall will target GSA’s focus segments of early stage venture capital, growth equity, smaller buyouts and operational turnaround funds.”

About Grove Street Advisors:

Grove Street Advisors was founded in 1998 as a private equity investment organization exclusively focused on building and managing customized separate accounts for institutional and large family office clients. The firm invests globally in all segments of private equity and is particularly focused on lower middle-market buyout, growth equity and venture capital. The majority of the Partners at Grove Street Advisors have worked together for 14 years and previously accumulated extensive operating experience across the full range of private equity, including positions at the portfolio company level, leading direct investments and building private equity organizations and investment strategies.