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Harvard Innovation Labs


Building a technology company that partners with real estate developers to automate the repeatable delivery of zero-carbon buildings.

Algoma team

About Algoma


Harvard Business School


Climate Circle


Website, LinkedIn

Climate Circle Q&A With Cofounder Seyfihan Usarer (HBS '23)

  • First, construction is one of the largest industries in the world, yet highly inefficient and unproductive. There has been very little innovation and technological development in decades when compared to other industries.

    Second, construction has a big sustainability problem. The built environment is responsible for approximately 40% of global greenhouse emissions. If concrete were a country, it would be the third biggest polluter after the United States and China.

    Lastly, there is a big housing shortage — in the US and the world — and the current pace of construction cannot close the gap. We wanted to come up with a solution that attacked all these problems at once.

  • We are a digital architect and engineer, automating design services for net-zero buildings. We use automation to accelerate the design and delivery of buildings, and we use mass timber to create sustainable buildings.

  • One of the most challenging aspects of this project is overcoming the entrenched norms within the construction industry. There exists a pervasive and deeply rooted resistance to change, characterized by minimal technological advancement and improvements in productivity over the past several decades. Additionally, real estate developers often exhibit a similar reluctance to adopt new methods.

    In such an environment, persuading stakeholders to embrace innovative and different approaches becomes a formidable task. Compounding these difficulties are the rising interest rates, which have a direct impact on slowing down the real estate and construction sectors, primarily due to the increasing costs of mortgages.

  • We are three cofounders. Joe and I got our MBAs at Harvard Business School, and during our studies we had a special focus on entrepreneurship, sustainability, and climate. There was also a very clear, increased interest from the MBA candidates to build their careers in climate. We had a special interest in the built environment because it generates ~40% global greenhouse emissions, which is larger than any other single industry.

    Kyle, before getting his master's at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, worked across mediums and sectors with an approach to the built environment that reinforces a throughline of decarbonization, climate resilience, technology, and human-centered solutions.

  • In our second year of the MBA program at Harvard Business School, Joe and I found ourselves amidst the crowd of the Harvard Real Estate Symposium. We were there with a mission: to network and connect with professionals from various facets of the real estate industry.

    As we navigated through the sea of attendees, I stumbled upon an intriguing individual from Savannah, Georgia, who worked for a real estate development firm. Our paths crossed, interestingly, because of his friendship with one of the Presidents of the Real Estate Club at HBS. Our conversation flowed effortlessly, and we quickly discovered a shared vision for the future of real estate.

    This chance meeting led to a promise of future dialogues. True to his word, he bridged the gap between us and a prominent Real Estate Developer, who, to our astonishment, not only showed keen interest in our unique approach but also decided to take a leap of faith with us. In a twist of fate, he became not just our first significant customer but also an enthusiastic investor in our venture. This moment, unforeseen and pivotal, marked the beginning of an extraordinary chapter in our professional journey.

  • The coolest moment in our journey so far has been our acceptance into NYC Mass Timber Studio, which is a grant program led by NYC Economic Development Corporation. It is a nine-month program in collaboration with Woodworks, AIA NY, the Mayor's Office, and USDA Forest Service. The program is designed to support mass timber projects in New York City, increasing the awareness about the uses and practices of mass timber. It was a competitive process, and we are proud and excited to have been selected for the grant and studio program.

  • One crucial lesson we have learned, which we believe would greatly benefit future entrepreneurs, is the immense power of networking. This is especially the case in an industry like real estate. Over time, we realized that networking isn't just about exchanging business cards or adding contacts on LinkedIn. It's about forming meaningful connections, sharing knowledge, and offering support. These relationships can lead to collaborations, mentorship opportunities, and insights that are not readily available through conventional channels.

    We wish we had understood earlier that the strength of your network can often be the difference between success and missed opportunities. It's a lesson in the value of human connections in a digital world, and one we hope future individuals can embrace early in their careers.