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Break Into AEC Startups

3 Weeks


Cohort-based Course

Unlock your potential as an innovation leader in architecture. Connect with startups, assess opportunities, and negotiate for impact.

Previously at

Columbia University
Pratt Institute

Course overview

Ready to unlock your potential as an innovation leader in architecture?

This course is designed for architects frustrated with the industry's pace of innovation and their place in it. This course will empower you to connect with startups, assess opportunities, and negotiate effectively for impactful roles.

Throughout the program, you'll gain the skills and knowledge to navigate startup ecosystems confidently. From identifying mission-aligned startups to conducting simple yet effective due diligence on their leadership and business models, you'll learn to make informed decisions that drive meaningful change.

But it doesn't stop there. This course will also provide the tools and strategies to excel in informational interviews, enabling you to build strong connections with founding teams and showcase your value as a strategic partner in driving innovation.

By the end of the course, you'll emerge as a confident and capable leader, poised to make a scalable impact in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. Join us and take the first step towards becoming an impactful intrapreneur or collaborator with industry-shaping startups.

Who is this course for


Architects, Engineers and Designers dissatisfied with the state of practice and eager to be part of innovating new industry pathways.


AEC professionals seeking greater agency in their work, while learning to connect strategic outcomes to the task at hand.


The next generation of industry leaders driven to break into AEC Tech who wish to maximize the probability of a successful startup entry.

You'll learn

How to find mission-aligned startups

Discover mission-aligned startups through VC portfolio research, accelerator networks, architect founder networks, and ecosystem mapping techniques.

How to get on a team's radar

Gain visibility by understanding influence, building relationship capital, studying key materials for an edge, and mastering the art of the informational interview.

How to ace the application and interview process

Ace applications and interviews by showcasing mission alignment, conviction to define the future, connecting outputs to outcomes, and demonstrating startup knowledge through insightful questions.

Essential due diligence tactics for effective assessment and negotiation

Master due diligence with insights on total compensation, valuations, risk assessment, and creating simple yet effective CEO and business model scorecards.

This course includes

7 interactive live sessions

Lifetime access to course materials

19 in-depth lessons

Direct access to instructor

3 projects to apply learnings

Guided feedback & reflection

Private community of peers

Course certificate upon completion

Maven Satisfaction Guarantee

This course is backed by Maven’s guarantee. You can receive a full refund within 14 days after the course ends, provided you meet the completion criteria in our refund policy.

Course syllabus

Expand all modules
  • Week 1

    May 10—May 12

    Week dates are set to instructor's time zone


    • May


      Session 1 - Welcome to Break into AEC Startups / Finding Mission-Aligned Startups

      Fri, May 10, 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM UTC


    • Finding Mission-Aligned Startups

  • Week 2

    May 13—May 19

    Week dates are set to instructor's time zone


    • May


      Session 2 - Getting on the Team's Radar

      Tue, May 14, 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM UTC

    • May


      Office Hours (Optional)

      Wed, May 15, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM UTC


    • Getting on the Team's Radar

    • Ace the Application & Interview Process

  • Week 3

    May 20—May 24

    Week dates are set to instructor's time zone


    • May


      Session 3 - Ace the Application & Interview Process

      Mon, May 20, 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM UTC

    • May


      Session 4 - Due Diligence & Negotiation Essentials

      Tue, May 21, 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM UTC

    • May


      Office Hours (Optional)

      Wed, May 22, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM UTC

    • May


      Session 5 - Putting It All Together & Closing Q&A

      Fri, May 24, 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM UTC


    • Due Diligence & Negotiation Essentials

    • Putting It All Together & Closing Q&A

What AEC startup insiders are saying

        I was incredibly fortunate to work closely with Michael in my first start-up role. His sharp cross-functional lens, unique positioning, and insightful mentorship were invaluable in helping me navigate the transition and successfully leverage my skills within a design team and the broader organization. He truly lives and breathes this stuff!
Kate Meagher

Kate Meagher

Architect turned Design Director, Juno - Ex Foster & Partners, SOM, REX
        As one of the most creative and critical thinkers I know, Michael's framework and insight for AEC professionals on understanding their potential, navigating and evaluating unknown opportunities, and maximizing their impact outside of traditional practice will become a starting point for all those seeking new career frontiers.
Nicolas Rader

Nicolas Rader

Architect turned VP of Design, Development, and Openings, Sonder - Ex Daybase, WeWork, Snohetta
        Transitioning into the startup world is a stark departure from the realm of traditional practice. Michael's invaluable experience and guidance will provide essential ‘how-to’ insights, equipping aspiring architects with the tools they need to confidently enter the startup arena, make a significant impact, and thrive in its dynamic landscape.
Kristen Teutonico

Kristen Teutonico

Architect turned Customer Success Director for Design Services, Saltmine - Ex WeWork, Pelli Clarke Pelli
        Michael’s ability to make complex information understandable with ease, and his immense passion for learning, teaching, and advancing the profession are inspiring! He’s already done a great service by assisting so many in their career pivots, including myself. This course is a culmination of years of broad and valuable industry experience.
Ala Alavi

Ala Alavi

Architect turned Project Executive for Design, RXR - Ex Common, WeWork, CetraRuddy
        This course is a great overview and introduction into what it takes to be an entrepreneur in startup land and is the kind of course I wish I had a couple years ago when starting my own business!
Mollie Claypool

Mollie Claypool

Architect turned founder & CEO, AUAR - Automated Architecture ltd.
        I wish more architects internalized how developers and startups work. I cannot imagine a better person to build that bridge than Michael.
Fed Novikov

Fed Novikov

Urban Planner turned serial entrepreneur / product and real estate development leader, The Neutral Project - Ex Commonplace, Apt, Airbnb
        If you want to impact the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction sector, look no further. This course will equip you with the tools to thrive in a fast-paced startup environment. There's no one better than Michael to guide you through this transition. He’s an empathic educator and mentor for anyone fortunate to cross paths with him.
Chris Chan

Chris Chan

Architect turned Computing Manager, Juno - Ex FXCollaborative, WeWork
        If it was 2016, when I was getting started, I would totally sign up for this!
Jack Crocker

Jack Crocker

Architect turned Product Development Manager - Ex - Modulous, Space10, Social Construct

Meet your instructor

Michael Caton, AIA, NOMA

Michael Caton, AIA, NOMA

Hi, I'm Michael. I'm an Architect turned Product and Technology leader in the AEC industry. I'm a passionate life-long learner who loves solving big, complex, seemingly intractable problems in the built environment.

Over the last decade, these qualities have enabled me to work on award-winning projects and ventures alongside iconoclasts redefining what's possible in the AEC industry. Some highlights include leading Technology and Computing at Juno; leading WeWork's Enterprise Architecture discipline; and bringing business model innovation and a product-based approach to Columbia University's graduate housing design curriculum.

Why I built this course

I built this course to give you the playbook other architects in tech and I wish we had - insider strategies and tactics that would have made an unequivocal material difference in our careers. The course material is based on real experience, not theory - from someone who has worked from an individual contributor up to the Executive Team. I'm confident this course will make a difference in career.

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Course schedule

Up to 6 hours per week for 2 weeks
  • Tuesdays & Fridays

    11:00am - 1:00pm EST

    Live sessions

  • Wednesdays

    12:00pm - 1:00pm EST

    Office hours

  • Weekly projects

    Up to 2 hours per week

    Hands on projects giving you tangible tools to break through.

Free resource

Lighting Talk ⚡ - Startup 101

Curious about the world of AEC startups?

Access my free Startup 101 Lighning Talk. You'll discover the key differences between traditional firms and startups, explore the startup lifecycle and lean methodology, and learn the critical mindset shift needed to succeed in this dynamic environment.

Whether you're considering a career change or just curious, this session is packed with insights to help you navigate this exciting new frontier.

Drop your email below 👇🏿 and take the next step towards unlocking your potential! 🚀

Get your free access here

Learning is better with cohorts

Learning is better with cohorts

Active hands-on learning

This course builds on live workshops and hands-on projects

Interactive and project-based

You’ll be interacting with other learners through breakout rooms and project teams

Learn with a cohort of peers

Join a community of like-minded people who want to learn and grow alongside you

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I can’t make a live session?
I work full-time, what is the expected time commitment?
Who is this course NOT for?
What’s the refund policy?
Do I need any prior experience with startup or the AEC industry to take this course?
What kind of projects will we be working on, and how will they help me apply the course learning?
Will I have direct access to the instructor for questions and guidance throughout the course?
Will I receive a certificate upon completing the course?
How will this course prepare me for the application and interview process when seeking roles at AEC startups?
Are there any prerequisites or required materials I need to have before starting this course?
What is the background and expertise of the course instructor, and how does their experience relate to the course content?
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Break Into AEC Startups


Bulk purchases