At the time, Grayson spied an opportunity to create a new venture brand that focused largely on the types of manufacturing-related deals that she was funding inside of the investing giant, NEA, which she joined in 2012.
Holt, who’d joined Uber in 2011, rising from a city general manager in Washington to the eventual head of the company’s mobility unit in 2018, was also ready for a change and excited about the prospect of investing full time, having been brought into NEA by Grayson to scout out nascent deals on the side.
“Of course, we didn’t expect COVID,” Holt says now. Still, it didn’t stop them from moving forward with fundraising and, in the process, securing $140 million in capital commitments from what Holt describes as “the typical kind of institutional LP base, including endowments, foundations,” and also some peers, including Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures, Josh Kopelman of First Round, and Grayson’s former NEA colleague, Scott Sandell.
Construct, which is focused primarily on five theme decentralized manufacturing, supply chain visibility, automation, transportation and mobility is already actively writing checks, in fact. Among the companies it has backed are Chef Robotics, a startup focused on assembling food at high throughput; Copia, an outfit whose tools aim to empower engineers to streamline workflows, increase productivity, and decrease downtime; and ChargeLab, a maker of electric vehicle charging software that Holt likens to the “Android of the charging market.”
To get a better sense of the types of startups that might be ideal for the firm going forward, we talked earlier with the pair, who recently signed a lease in D.C. for their team (Construct also has two junior investors), and who were together today at Holt’s home.