Smart Blocks was the winner of the 2023 Big Pitch.

December 19, 2023

Construction Innovators Swim with the Sharks During Big Pitch 2023

Join us in a deep dive into Dysruptek's Shark Tank-like event, where Haskell team members pitched ideas to redefine the construction industry.


The fourth annual Shark Tank-styled competition held by Dysruptek, Haskell’s innovation and venture capital arm, lived up to its name. From the number of entries to the surround-sound set to the attendance to the ideas themselves, Big Pitch 2023 was bigger in every way.

The Big Pitch is open to all Haskell team members. This year, around 100 attended in person and another 200 viewed online as the five groups that emerged from a record field of 45 entries presented their plans to disrupt the construction industry.

“The biggest thing about the day was the focus on innovation, the culture of innovation and how Haskell enables its team members to come forward with ideas that can not only help Haskell deliver better projects for our clients, but also make people’s jobs easier, more efficient, safer,” said Hamzah Shanbari, Haskell Director of Innovation. “It's as much about employee satisfaction as it is about delivering a better product for our client.

Any Haskell team member can submit an idea. The Dysruptek team evaluates and maps out each idea to understand it fully. After that, the team consults internal and external Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to help select the finalists. Each finalist will then continue working with Dysruptek to write a thorough business plan for their idea and develop a story narrative to pitch the idea live in front of the executive panel of judges.

Not surprisingly, the top two entries harness artificial intelligence (AI) to address pain points in the project lifecycle. Each team received a cash award and funding and support to develop their innovations.

  • The winner, Smart Blocks, will use generative design to provide coordinated and detailed designs with faster and more accurate cost estimates during the preconstruction phase. It was submitted by Len Roche, Thomas Schreiner and Curdin Gantenbein.
  • Runner-up Load Builder envisions AI-powered software to revolutionize shipping logistics for Haskell Steel, which fabricates and ships thousands of tons of steel annually. It was submitted by Kyle Lyons and Zachary Blount.

“AI was the name of the game for 2023,” Shanbari said. We. “We’ve seen this writing on the wall. Everybody's talking about AI – ‘How's the AI going to disrupt?’ We saw that come through with a lot of the ideas touched on using AI to enhance something.”

Haskell was founded the innovation of design-build project delivery almost 60 years ago and launched Dysruptek in 2018 to stay on the cutting edge of construction technology. In 2023, global insurance carrier AXA XL ranked Haskell No. 1 in its Technology Adoption Maturity Index (TAMI), its proprietary benchmarking system to help contractors measure their tech adoption against an industry index and their peers.

More than rankings, though, Dysruptek has fostered a palpable enthusiasm across the enterprise finding, trying and adopting advances that make the industry more efficient, effective and safe.

“There's this culture that is brewing and continuing to expand within the company,” Shanbari said. “It’s not only from the Jacksonville office but across the globe. The APAC (Asia-Pacific) team is always involved, and we see innovation from Haskell Mexico, too. It's really exciting to get more and more team members engaged in the innovation cycle.”

Do you have the next great idea to change the construction industry? Contact the Dysruptek team to discuss it “For the Betterment of the Industry.”

Haskell delivers $2± billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,200 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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