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Crazy for ConTech with Leise Sandeman, Pathways


Welcome to ‘Crazy for ConTech’ with Romey Oulton, a Q&A focused on the Construction Technology Industry. 

This Q&A series is an opportunity for our Head of ConTech, Romey Oulton, to discuss all things construction technology with key players who are championing innovation and digitalisation in the construction space. 

This week we have been in touch with Leise Sandeman, Co-Founder of Pathways.

Pathways tracks carbon emissions generated by construction materials at a time when manufacturers are under increasing pressure to meet sustainable mandates.

Let’s begin with the recent $2.5 million pre-seed round led by Zacua and PiLabs. How do you feel following this announcement?

First and foremost, I am ecstatic. Having exceptional investors and access to resources that can truly revolutionize manufacturing is a great feeling. The round was oversubscribed, bringing in over $4 million. This allowed us to select investors who deeply comprehend our industry, particularly in material manufacturing. This understanding is pivotal as we contemplate our growth paths. Amid discussions on PropTech, real estate, architects, and general contractors, what stands out for us is that all these aspects are driven by the materials provided by manufacturers. Whether it’s the chair you’re sitting on, the wall, the paint, or the structural steel, potential customers lie within those who create these materials. Our focus is on building a platform that integrates with the data stack, enabling the generation of product-level lifecycle analysis. Ultimately, this reduces the emission footprint of individual materials as they are incorporated into buildings.


Regarding your growth plans post-raise, could you elaborate?

Absolutely, we are moving full speed ahead. Two key elements guide our hiring strategy. Firstly, we are seeking exceptional tech talent. It might sound cliché for a tech startup, but we want individuals who are genuinely driven to make a tangible impact on climate and reduce the footprint of manufacturers. We are at the forefront of employing complex technologies such as large language models, integrating with unstructured data, and utilizing AI to decarbonize processes. The second crucial aspect involves hiring individuals with a deep understanding of new manufacturing. This includes roles in customer success, requiring empathy and knowledge about embodied carbon. We are excited to bring in talent from more traditional backgrounds who can contribute to our startup.


What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received in your professional journey?

Well, that’s a tough one, isn’t it? I mean, it’s kind of a dynamic question because, honestly, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and the same goes for my co-founder, Alex, without the guidance we’ve received along the way. I’m a firm believer in the power of community—the people surrounding you make a significant impact. So, if I were to share a more traditional piece of advice, it would stem from something my mom always emphasized (shout out to my dad as well, of course). My mom’s wisdom goes like this: if it feels right, if you sense a calling or intuition, listen to it. Your body sends you far more signals than your mind, especially when you’re building something. In the face of naysayers claiming it’s impossible or that manufacturers won’t embrace decarbonization or technology, having a contrarian view that aligns with your gut feeling is crucial. This holds true for me, for Alex, and for our entire team—it’s not just a mental conviction; it resonates in your core, in your stomach, a feeling you can truly sense throughout your body.


You’ve navigated the competitive landscape of professional services, including McKinsey, and completed an Ironman (kudos!). So, what valuable lessons have you learned along the way?

Embarking on an Ironman, a truly audacious goal, paralleled the commitment required to build a startup. Despite having minimal experience in long-distance running, swimming, and biking, I set my sights on this challenge. Admittedly, it wasn’t the most fiscally sound decision, but committing to such a monumental goal and working on it daily became a transformative journey. Much like building a startup, lofty goals for strategic change are set, but the day-to-day grind involves less glamorous tasks – early morning swims and debugging code. It’s these small, consistent efforts that pave the way for significant achievements.

Crossing the finish line of the Ironman brought euphoria, akin to the satisfaction felt when a customer expresses appreciation for our work at the startup. The small victories, such as a customer praising our approach to plant waste or achieving product design changes for decarbonization, resonate similarly to crossing the Ironman finish line. Our mission at the startup aligns with my deep love for the planet, aiming to make it last through decarbonizing the supply chain and heavy industry.

Reflecting on my time at McKinsey, one key takeaway is the emphasis on team feedback. This culture, which I’ve integrated into our startup, involves regular feedback sessions every two to three weeks. These sessions, lasting a full hour, delve into team members’ strengths, development areas, and crucially, how colleagues can set each other up for success. This practice fosters a supportive environment where feedback flows in both directions, breaking away from the conventional top-down model. Shout out to Dorian, a new team member who recently provided insightful feedback, reinforcing the importance of seeking constructive input to grow as a leader.

In essence, the journey involves setting audacious goals, embracing the daily grind, celebrating small victories, and fostering a culture of open and reciprocal feedback. Listening and surrounding oneself with those who uplift and challenge contribute significantly to personal and professional growth, creating a path to success with love, care, and respect.

LMRE are specialist PropTech recruiters, if you need help growing your business or making any key hires please get in touch via the form below!

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