Gonzalo Galindo, Head of CEMEX Ventures, outlines the 2020 Construction Startup Competition and what his company hopes to achieve...
Although construction might be amongst the oldest industries in history, CEMEX Ventures is dedicated to making sure that it keeps its sights set firmly on the future. Launched in 2017 as the corporate venture capital arm of Mexico-based building materials company CEMEX, CEMEX Ventures takes a global view of the market and seeks to empower innovative entities in the construction sector via investment, engagement and shared expertise from its extensive network. Open to working with startups, entrepreneurs, universities and more, CEMEX Ventures takes small companies on a 14-step journey from basic evaluation all the way up to investment. We spoke with Gonzalo Galindo, Head of CEMEX Ventures, about the company’s drive to foster a revolution in the industry.
With a diverse background of skills, Galindo says that he was keen to combine his knowledge of the construction sector within a corporate venture context. “I have a lot of experience in the construction industry, especially the building materials. I think it's a combination of which works well together,” he explains. Priding himself on a style of leadership which emphasises a receptiveness to change, a passion for construction and an innovative attitude, Galindo states that CEMEX Ventures fundamentally realises that adapting to new market conditions is imperative for a thriving industry. “You really need to be adaptive and keep your core intact by supporting your people, learning from them, helping them and providing them with a clear vision to focus on.” This comes down to understanding your subject from the bottom up, which in turn relies on being open to new ideas and perspectives on well-known topics.
Perhaps nothing could have made the importance of this more abundantly clear than the disruption caused by COVID-19. “CEMEX looks outside itself to the world and continues to learn what is happening, about different trends and how construction is evolving,” Galindo says. “It’s a very challenging environment and it will continue to be so. We all need to really push our limits to succeed.” The introspective nature of CEMEX Ventures is partially the reason for its success; acting with purpose and well-thought-out intention, the company goes beyond what most corporate venture funds would consider necessary. “We do a lot of insight-analysis on the industry to form a better overall strategy. We're also investing in concepts and business models which may help CEMEX create additional sources of revenue for the future,” he adds.
Part of this attitude can be accounted for by the uniqueness of CEMEX Ventures itself: among the first of its kind, Galindo says that because it was uncharted territory the team had no barriers or preconceptions to impede how it approached business. Now, as the company continues to gain recognition, make investments and develop projects, Galindo believes that its track record for success and efficiency will only grow with time. “CEMEX is probably one of the most innovative companies operating today, not only in terms of scientific innovation and product development but also in the business models that the company has applied in order to grow. I think CEMEX has been a game-changer for the building materials industry throughout these years.”
Construction Startup Competition 2020
The culmination of this focus is its annual ‘Construction Startup Competition’, an event designed to identify and foster the newest innovators in the sector. Beginning three years ago, the competition has gained more and more traction on the world stage as a fruitful opportunity for newcomers to prove the worth of their concepts. This year, CEMEX Ventures is joined by several global leaders of the industry: Ferrovial, Hilti, VINCI Group´s Leonard and NOVA by Sant-Gobain. With the quality of the entering startups intensifying year-on-year, Galindo is confident that the 2020 event will be one for the record books. “We're providing a robust proposition to the startup community. From the level of discussions occurring to the quality of the processes running the competition itself, it's getting better and better,” he claims.
CEMEX is probably one of the most innovative companies operating today, not only in terms of scientific innovation and product development but also in the business models that the company has applied in order to grow.
With two trends seeming to pervade the contemporary construction industry - the introduction of digital tools in the building process and environmental considerations on the whole process - Galindo anticipates that the event will produce a satisfying cross-section of responses from innovators on these topics. Keen to stand at the forefront of a revolution that it hopes its actions will instigate, CVCEMEX Ventures warmly extends an invitation to all startups in the sector to take part and be part of the industry’s future. “I’d like the startup community to go to our website (https://www.cemexventures.com/startup-competition-2020/) and join an event filled with innovators working on great new business models,” Galindo concludes. “CEMEX Ventures is willing to give them support and help make stronger startups and solutions.