The Vision and Expertise of Outer Labs’ CEO, Jen Carlile: Leading the Future of Residential Development

Stephanie Hsie

In the U.S., we have a shortage of two to six million homes and have been unable to keep pace with demand for the past 40 years. To overcome this demand, it goes without saying that we must build housing on a massive scale. Simultaneously, the real estate and AEC industries are at a crossroads—navigating economic headwinds, climate risk, affordability crises, and a multi-decade build-up of fractured technology solutions. 

Enter Jen Carlile, an AEC technology leader passionate about revolutionizing housing development through innovative software solutions. She is a 20+ year veteran of the tech industry with a deep understanding of real estate development, architecture and design, and construction. As CEO of Outer Labs, Jen is shepherding our goal of unlocking new efficiencies in the end-to-end residential development process, allowing developers to unlock access to capital, mitigate risk more effectively, and ultimately, build more housing.

A Personal Connection to the Housing Industry

Jen’s journey into the housing industry began in childhood, influenced by her father, a framing crew member in Spokane, WA, and her grandfather, a real estate agent. In the early 80s, her family moved to Alaska to support the oil boom and started a small home-building company.  After the oil crash, they moved to Seattle where her father became a project manager for a medium-sized construction company, delivering 50-100 homes annually. This growth continued, and they eventually became a large builder, delivering 200-300 homes, multi-family apartment buildings, and offices each year.

This experience led to a deep familiarity with the residential development process, an understanding of the labor-intensive process of homebuilding, and insights into where traditional practices are valuable and technology can be introduced.

“Enabling the creation of more, attainable housing is what drives me. At the individual level, housing is a foundation for personal well being, health, and educational success. At the neighborhood level, quality housing helps anchor and support neighborhoods. And at the city level, a variety of housing is important for economic growth and is key to fostering diverse communities. Through the work of my dad, I got to see brand new thriving communities come to life, which was very inspiring and has influenced the direction of my career.”

From Education to Innovation - Pursuing AEC Tech Solutions

Jen studied computer science and technology at Wellesley College and Stanford University. After gaining experience as a software engineer at leading companies such as Sennheiser and Avid Technologies, Jen joined Google X — where her passions for technology, innovation, and the real estate and construction industries were all united. She was part of a Google X incubator project to create a cloud-based software platform for building design and delivery, aiming to enhance innovation and design quality at scale.

“As a research project in the moonshot lab, we had the opportunity to look at the problem from first principles and take the time and space that one might need to consider the root causes. We may not be able to solve these big, hairy problems wholly 100 percent, but what can we do to push them in the right direction?”

Based on this success, Jen and three co-founders spun out from Google X in 2012. Flux was a tech company focused on creating a connected data environment for building design by enabling data to freely flow between previously siloed environments. As VP of Engineering, Jen led a team of over 15 in setting the roadmap and developing the product, while also establishing herself as a prominent figure in AEC tech. She delivered impactful talks at KeenCon, StrangeLoop, BuiltWorlds, the Design Modelling Symposium, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Driven to further innovate in real estate and AEC technology, Jen co-founded Outer Labs in 2018 with former Flux colleagues Karl Garske and Javier Vizoso. Together with Gulshan Arora, the four Outer Labs co-founders represent strengths across real estate and AEC: product; technology; R&D and innovation; business development; operations; and successfully scaling businesses.

Scaling Commercial Real Estate at Outer Labs

For the past six years at Outer Labs, Jen has continued to break ground, delving into delivering commercial buildings at scale. During her tenure as CTO, Outer Labs built a suite of tools that enabled clients to operate their real estate portfolios efficiently, cut operating costs, and optimize their space while providing tailored solutions at scale. At the 2023 Strange Loop Conference, she showcased how Outer Labs' generative software designs fully rationalized commercial buildings.

“Working alongside Jen over the past 8 years has been a privilege. She has a unique ability to see the big picture and build a high-functioning team that can execute on that vision.” - Javier

Transforming the Residential Development Industry

Today, as CEO of Outer Labs, Jen is leveraging her extensive experience in software, AEC tech, real estate, and home building to develop an end-to-end residential development platform. We recognize that complicated, interconnected financing, policy, and delivery obstacles hinder developers' ability to make projects pencil out. Jen’s vision is to create a tool to help residential developers navigate and optimize the critical path of project delivery to increase margins, better anticipate and respond to obstacles, and navigate a more predictable and transparent building process.

Jen is more than just a tech expert; she’s a visionary leader poised to transform the industry. Her blend of experience, passion, and innovation has been recognized industry-wide, and we look forward to sharing more about our product in the coming weeks.

Content originally published by outer labs

June 14, 2024

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