In the third episode of season 8 of The Propcast, Louisa is chatting to Mallorie Brodie CEO & Co-Founder and Lauren Lake COO & Co-Founder of Canadian-based construction technology company, Bridgit about Women in ConTech. They talk about the growth of the ConTech market, how Bridgit have secured investment from some of the leading VC’s and won over some major contractors. You’ll hear about how a huge part of their software focuses on people and how they have scaled their team during the war on talent which is a problem that many founders are facing.
Key Insights From This Episode:
- The war on talent and is a problem most founders are facing, and I’m sure that many entrepreneurs are experiencing the same pain. – Louisa
- We found the problem before creating the solution, which we found was different to how a lot of tech companies start. – Lauren
- You don’t solve the pain point and then stop developing the software and just continue marketing into the industry. We are making improvements and learning from our customers every single week. There is no end to continuing to innovate at Bridgit. – Mallorie
- ConTech market investment has doubled in the last decade and it’s accelerated, far beyond the pace of growth of just the venture capital. – Mallorie
- The other thing we’ve seen is just a ton of consolidation in the markets. Not all of that capital is going into seeding new companies. Some of the larger companies out there are seeing all of the innovation within the small and midsize companies and there has been a ton of acquisitions. – Mallorie
- At the beginning, we certainly found it challenging to raise capital early on in the business… Over time what we were able to do is start to prove our efforts more in the actual metrics and numbers of the business. And that makes the conversation much easier. – Lauren
- You have two female founders… I think looking into DEI is extremely important for the growth of a tech business. – Lousia
- We were females in construction technology really didn’t make a selection of two male dominated industries. – Mallorie
- Companies felt heard. They get to actually give their input into how the product is being developed. And so, through that process, we’re also figuring out, which of these companies would actually want to use the product once it’s developed. – Lauren
- People make the assumption that if they don’t have a technical background, they can’t work in tech. – Lauren
About Our Guests:
Mallorie Brodie, CEO and Co-Founder of Canadian-based construction technology company Bridgit. She has almost 10 years of entrepreneurial experience and holds various entrepreneurial awards, including receiving the top prize at Google Demo Day, being named Techvibes Entrepreneur of the Year, being named to the Forbes Manufacturing & Industry 30 Under 30, being named to the Best Of Canada Forbes Under 30 Innovators list, and being named to the Top 40 Under 40 in Canadian Construction list. Since opening Bridgit, herself and Lauren have established Bridgit Bench, our flagship product, as the leading workforce intelligence solution in construction today. Bridgit Bench is now used by over 100 leading general contractors across North America like Rogers-O’Brien, DeAngelis Diamond, Ryan Companies, Alberici, and more.
Lauren Lake is the COO and co-founder of Canadian-based construction technology company Bridgit. With a degree in Civil Structural Engineering from Western University, With her guidance and expertise in the AEC industry, Lauren has helped establish Bridgit Bench, the company’s flagship product, as the leading workforce intelligence solution in construction today. Lauren has been named in the TechWeek 100, Forbes Manufacturing & Industry 30 Under 30, and Best Of Canada Forbes Under 30 Innovators lists. Her true source of pride comes from helping over 100 contractors across North America get the most out of their workforce.
About Our Host
Louisa started her career in property working at a well-known estate agency in London. Realising her people skills, she moved over to Lloyd May to pursue a career in recruitment. She now is a Director at LMRE, who are a specialist recruitment firm driven by PropTech and recruitment professionals, and Louisa oversees their 5 core areas. Louisa co-founded LMRE and provides a constructive recruitment platform to the new disruptors in real estate. Louisa is also on the board of Directors at UK PropTech Association (UKPA).
LMRE believe there is a better way to recruit. LMRE focus on a more comprehensive, client led focus delivering exceptional talent to the place at the time. They are passionate about the industry and passionate about people’s careers. LMRE spend time with each client to become and an extension of the business, and their transparency and core values help them grow with the sector. LMRE simplify recruitment and innovate with our clients and evolve the people driven, PropTech community.
[02:30] Talk us through founding Bridgit and the product. You founded it back it in 2014 in the Tech Hub, Waterloo, Canada.
- We met through an entrepreneurship program. Lauren was studying civil engineering and Mallorie had been studying business. We also both had family in the industry.
- Lauren had some of that first-hand experience from her time on site, how little technology there was, everything was pen and paper back then.
- We found was people really liked having the opportunity to open up and share their challenges. We found the problem before creating the solution which we found was different to how a lot of tech companies start
- Through our research and talking with the largest general contractors in the U.S, we learned about the strategic challenges they were having around the labour shortage in general, and just managing their people and really trying to put the best project teams forward. And we set out to create our second product, Bridgit Bench.
[08:00] Last year you raised $23 million and you are backed by some big names like Autodesk, BDCs Capital Women and Technology Venture Fund, what are the plans? Is it further growth across the states?
- We brought on Camber Creek and Storm Ventures to co-lead the round. Camber brings the deep contraction and property tech expertise and Storm has the B2B enterprise SaaS experience so them joining the board and coming on as investors has been very helpful in the last 6 months.
- The key to our overall product development process is that it’s very repeatable because we know how to go and do the research, find the pain points and actually launch a product or a module or a feature to solve for those pain points.
- Selling to mean general contractors right now, our primary user, and really excited to just get more and more contractors onboard the platform over the next year.
- We’re definitely looking at adding new product nodules and also looking at international markets like the UK and Australia.
[10:10] Tell us a bit more about the ConTech market in terms of investment. It’s the era that’s received the most amount of investment in 2021 and set to be bigger in 2022. What have you seen since founding Bridgit back in 2014?
- ConTech market investment has doubled in the last decade and its accelerated, far beyond the pace of growth of just the venture capital.
- The other thing we’ve seen is just a ton of consolidation in the markets. Not all of that capital is going into seeding new companies. Some of the larger companies out there are seeing all of the innovation within the small and midsize companies, and there has been a ton of acquisitions.
- We’ve just seen a dramatic shift since when we started the company. The appetite and need for technology now, it feels like we’re just at the beginning.
- We’ve started to see solutions where the data is being collected. And now over the next number of years, I think we’re going to see some really interesting opportunities around how that data can be put to use.
[13:00] The statistics say it’s harder to raise as a female founder. How did you find it? Are there any tips?
- At the beginning, we certainly found it challenging to raise capital early on in the business. At that point, you’re really just pitching your vision and you’re pitching yourselves as founders. And at that point that was much more difficult of a sell.
- Over time what we were able to do is start to prove our efforts more in the actual metrics and numbers of the business. And that makes the conversation much easier. And that was just because of the momentum and the product market fit that we were able to show. And just proving that through all of the growth that we have.
[15:30] You’re fast-growing tech business. How have you gone about recruiting from a diverse talent pool? What would you say are the most attractive parts of working in this space? And why did you both go into it?
- We both have family backgrounds in construction. After our studies and hearing all of the different pain points and challenges, we realised we can play a role in helping to solve the problems in the industry.
- At Bridgit we’ve been diverse from day one. Mallorie and I did not come from software engineering backgrounds. We were females in construction technology in two male dominated industries.
- We had little capital to put to work and hired people within our network. If diversity happens early on, it becomes really attractive for a lot of people to come and work at a company that has people with so many different perspectives and so many different backgrounds.
- We do very specific things in terms of how we’re attracting and recruiting talent. We cast a very wide net by how we post our job descriptions and job postings. We eliminate a lot of the criteria that a lot of tech companies would include things like “you need to have X number of years in this type of role at another B2B SaaS company”. For more entry level roles, we’ve found that you don’t need to have that experience to work at Bridgit.
[21:00] You’ve got some huge clients. How did you go about securing some of your clients? Any tips for people looking to break into this industry you’d like to share?
- We built our product hand in hand with different customers.
- The construction industry is a very tight nit group, a very competitive industry. It was a very deliberate choice to start with the enterprise segment, because those companies hold a lot of credibility.
- To have customers speak to how they’ve used the product at trade shows doing different podcasts or webinars and having the customers speak to the product, that is what we have found is the most engaging.
- We’ve been very careful to say no when it comes to our strategy and the type of client that we’re selling to. So, we could really focus on who we could add the most value to given where the product is at today and deliver a great experience.
- We are also very genuine and very honest in how we speak to the product.
[26:00] Have you used any sort of external support, associations or groups to help your growth?
- There are associations that we are part of. We have integration partners, companies that our product integrates with and we’re able to actually show that business use case for how the two products can work together. There’re other partners that we work with that are more industry specific. There are marketing partners that we work with to do joint webinars and collaborate together as different teams.
- Our base of investors who provide a ton of different supports. And we’ve been quite deliberate in building that group of investors to have those construction backgrounds and people with tech backgrounds.
- There’s been so many people in the industry that have given us so much time. And I think it speaks to everyone’s motivation and interest.
[30:00] The ‘LMRE’ part, Louisa asks the guests to talk about:
- Lessons learned in your career:
- Importance of corporate values. It’s really helped to align everyone and the decisions that we’re making and how we’re hiring and just the brand that we’re putting out to the team and to potential employees.
- Deliver results fast. We have win or lose together, which is all about teamwork. We have never stopped learning.
- Mention a person, product or service:
- Rewarding parts of working in the space:
- The industry was open to giving us feedback so that we were able to figure out how to build a product, launch it and build a 90-person diverse team.
- The partnership that Lauren and I have together
- What are you most Excited about for the future of the space?:
- Expanding on our product, workforce planning.
- The growth and seeing some of the early team members that have been able to just take on challenge after challenge.
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