6 min read

Introducing: the Nexus Labs Syndicate [Nexus Newsletter #146]

This edition of the Nexus Newsletter is brought to you by enVerid Systems and Montgomery Technologies.


Hey friends,

Today we're launching a new project here at Nexus Labs. Some of you will say, "What took you so long???". Others will say, "WTF?". This newsletter answers both of those questions, plus it invites you to participate in the fun.

Commercial buildings owners are now required to digitize, decarbonize, protect the health of occupants, and provide those occupants with a great user experience—all while realizing the business results of each of the stakeholders involved. And all of this change is only happening faster and faster. 🤯

They need to level up.

Meanwhile, as the strategies of the incumbent OEMs in the industry are shifting from hardware-focused to software-focused to meet these new requirements, they’re woefully behind what building owners need and they’ve damaged trust with their lock-em and loot-em business practices.

Meanwhile, it’s easier than ever for startups to build technology solutions for buildings. Cloud computing is becoming more accepted and storage costs are decreasing, hardware costs are decreasing, sensors are everywhere and cheap to deploy, data for everything is available or can be, networking is now a core component of building design.

As a result, startups have risen to close the gap left by the OEMs, but the onslaught of VC investment has created a marketplace full of siloed point solutions and buyer confusion.

Despite the number of new entrants, 87% of commercial buildings still lack the digital infrastructure required to level up AND the technology marketplace still has white space if you know where to look. In short, the next decade will be very exciting for investors in smart building technology.

Introducing: The Nexus Labs Syndicate

I'm excited to announce the launch of The Nexus Labs Syndicate. The syndicate’s mission is to provide early-stage smart building tech startups with access to more capital and talent and rapid learning. We’ll invest in startups in the seed to series A (and maybe B or C) stages when they are forming their products and starting to grow.

We’ll then help founders with networking, product market fit, go to market strategy, extensive knowledge of their partner and competitive landscape, and (if it’s a fit with the Nexus Labs audience) providing a platform for storytelling and thought leadership for the founder.

The syndicate’s deal flow will come from Nexus Labs’ extensive community—we’re technology experts, investors, integrators, startups, consultants, building operators and owners. Forming this syndicate is about sharing our investment opportunities with the community—a win-win-win for the community, the entrepreneur, and the other investors in the startup.

We will invest in five “transitions” that are just starting in commercial buildings and will take many years to come to fruition:

  • Manual processes to digitalization
  • Traditional energy management to decarbonization via electrification
  • Point solutions to platforms
  • Vertical to horizontal architecture w/ key API-first aggregators
  • Unlocking the potential hidden in small buildings

There is no one “commercial buildings industry”, there are many. I see there being unique winners in each vertical market—those that master product-market fit for different types of businesses and building owners. So we’ll invest in common themes, patterns, and approaches but look to build up a diverse portfolio across all building types.

I’ve already made early pilot investments in this thesis, including in David Energy and Therma. I've also been helping startups as an advisor, including WattCarbon.

Introducing: Matt Pierce, Nexus Labs Syndicate partner

As you all know by now, I've spent my whole career in the buildings industry, but I haven't started a technology startup. I'm also new to VC.

To supplement and balance out my expertise (and my blindspots), I'm partnering up with my longtime friend Matt Pierce.

Matt_Pierce_Headshot_17G3218_Web.jpg
Matt Pierce

Pierce Co-founded Trusted Health, a digital health company, in 2017. Trusted is a category defining company shaping the future of work for healthcare and was featured on Forbes “Billion-Dollar Startups” list.

In addition to founding Trusted, Pierce is a passionate startup advisor and angel investor. He takes his first hand experience and utilizes it to help founders solve their biggest challenges, such as, go-to-market strategy, optimizing unit-economics, founder relationships, and raising capital. Pierce has now invested in over 100 startups and is actively advising several of them.

Prior to Trusted, Pierce was an early employee and General Manager of Hired.com, where he helped scale Hired to a global company operating across 5 countries. Additionally, Pierce has been named ‘40 under 40’ and ‘Staffing 100’ most influential leaders by Staffing Industry Analyst.

Matt and I went to school together from 5th grade through high school, sharing a love for all sorts of sports. Since then, we've followed each other’s careers closely and are glad to find the intersection of our interests and skillsets giving us the perfect opportunity to work and spend more time together.

I will focus on each startup's product market fit, go to market strategy, and founder problem fit. Matt will focus on lead investor diligence, financials & valuations, go to market strategy, growth mechanisms, and founder grit.

Where you come in

As we prepare the documents for our first investment, I'm inviting you to join the syndicate as a backer on Angellist. As a backer, there's no obligation to invest, but this is the only way you'll hear about the deals until after they're done.

You can find the details, and also make a commitment (as little as $1k) if you want to, here:

If you're an entrepreneur wanting to partner with the Nexus Labs Syndicate, hit reply or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Here's to continued innovation and transforming the industry!

—James Dice, Founder of Nexus Labs

P.S. This is an experiment. I’ve laid out my intentions above, but I expect to learn as I go. Any questions? Hit reply and let me know.


A message from our partner, enVerid Systems:

Improving indoor air quality (IAQ) with optimized ventilation and air cleaning need not conflict with building decarbonization and climate resilience goals.

Read enVerid's new white paper, How to Achieve Sustainable Indoor Air Quality, to learn how a four-step Clean First approach can be used to design and operate low-energy, high-IAQ, climate resilient buildings of the future.


✖ At the Nexus

Here’s everything worth sharing from Nexus HQ this week:

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★ PODCAST: 🎧 #119: How service robots fit into the smart building ecosystemEpisode 119 is a conversation with Greg Scott and Michelle Snider of SRT Labs, a technology startup specializing in robotics, but now offering a more comprehensive smart building offering as well.

We dove deep into applications for robots in facilities and how smart buildings stacks can incorporate data from robots as they move around. Plus, these folks are experts at serving the federal government, so we dove into their advice for others hoping to do the same.

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★ MEMBERS-ONLY EVENTS THIS MONTH:

  • New Member Orientation: Nexus Founder, James Dice, hosted an introduction to the Nexus Labs Community and how to access and take advantage of all the resources that come with your Pro Membership. This is for new members or those who've not taken advantage of all the resources at the Nexus Community.
  • Subject Matter Expert Workshop: Pro Member and Building Optimisation Manager at AMP Capital, Tom Balme was our expert on Restructuring Maintenance Contracts and the Future Value of FDD.
  • Member Gathering: Building Energy Engineer at Dartmouth College and Pro Member, Betsy Ricker, will lead the discussion on Dartmouth's smart buildings program. September 28th @9am MT

Join Nexus Pro now to get the invites and access to the recordings.

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★ ON LINKEDIN: Are the "Ontology Wars" over in the buildings industry?

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★ READ OF THE WEEK: Demand Flexibility and Grid-interactive Buildings 101

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★ JOBS: Are you hiring? Searching for a job in smart buildings?—We've relaunched the Nexus Labs Jobs Board and we've made job postings free.

It's got great jobs from Belimo, Vigilent Corporation, Grosvenor Engineering Group, Siemens, Virtual Facility, Clockworks Analytics, Watts, and LMRE.


A message from our partner, Montgomery Technologies:

Cybersecurity, change management, remote access, and data integrity across 8-10 siloed systems per building presents a significant challenge for CRE operations. Just knowing where everything is, how it is connected, and where it is connected can be too much for thinly-staffed corporate IT departments, whose primary function is to oversee the corporate network.

🎥 Watch this quick explainer video to learn how a converged network fills this gap, solves for all the above, and is the first step to enabling a Smart Building.


👋 That's all for this week. See you next Tuesday!

Whenever you're ready, there are 4 ways Nexus Labs can help you:

1. Take our shortcut to learning the Smart Buildings industry here (350 students and counting)

2. Join our community of smart buildings nerds and gamechangers here (450 members and counting)

3. Sponsor our newsletter & podcast & get 5k+ nerdy eyeballs and earholes on your brand, product, or business.

4. (NEW) Join the Nexus Labs Syndicate on Angellist for opportunities to invest in the best smart buildings startups that cross my desk each month.