Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash
Product

Breaking Ground: Introducing BuildBook

Carson Miller
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July 18, 2019

A few months ago, I left a great job as Managing Director of North America for Fahrenheit 212, an industry leading innovation firm. Leading the team at Fahrenheit gave me the opportunity to work side by side with an amazing group of colleagues and ambitious clients, solving problems across a wide range of industries.

I've spent my entire career helping other organizations - large enterprises, government agencies, and startups - design, build and release digital products and technology systems. I've been part of dozens of product releases. The thrill of creating something from nothing has been so rewarding for me.

Yet, despite spending almost 20 years helping other companies create, I've always wanted to take a shot at building my own product and company. I just wasn't sure when. After spending years acquiring the various skills I thought I’d need to build a successful technology company, I realized that there is no "right" time. So, after turning 40 earlier this year, I decided now was my time.

Laying the foundation

I grew up in a family of small business owners. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to improve the lives of these inspiring business owners, their employees, and the customers they serve. In 2015, I started talking to my brother, Ryan, about the challenges he faces running his boutique custom home building company, Artisan Built. It quickly became clear that there is a huge opportunity to bring new ideas and solutions to the construction industry.

Despite all of the progress in consumer tech and enterprise software over the past 20 years, construction - particularly home building and renovations - has been largely overlooked and underserved.

Framing the challenge

Anyone that has built a new home or gone through a home renovation knows that it is a high stress endeavor. For homeowners, these projects are emotionally charged and one of life’s major financial commitments. On the other hand, builders and contractors maintain a near constant juggling act as they balance educating and helping their clients, scheduling their teams and subcontractors, managing project budgets, dealing with the unexpected all while trying to maintain a healthy profit margin and winning new business. It should come as no surprise that the vast majority of projects leave one or both sides feeling frustrated and angry.

As we dug into these issues and challenges, we uncovered a simple but universal truth that applies as much to construction projects as it does to human relationships in general: good communication is essential to good outcomes.

Developing the blueprint

We've spent the last several months talking to everyone and anyone involved in construction: builders and remodelers, designers, architects, and homeowners. The overwhelming message we’ve heard is that keeping everyone on the same page throughout a project is a lot of work, and requires way too much time. Interestingly, we’ve learned that over 80% of homeowners  felt that communication with their contractor is one of the most important factors that leads to a successful project. At the same time, less than 20% rated their contractors as above average communicators. Ouch.

In a typical construction project, there are hundreds of decisions to make - from paint colors to tile materials to appliances - and seemingly unlimited options to choose from. There are often tens of thousands of dollars at stake, so avoiding mistakes and miscommunication is critical. Managing all of this with general use tools like email and text messaging is cumbersome, to say the least.

So, after months of researching, designing, and building, we are thrilled to introduce BuildBook - a new tool to streamline communication and collaboration for everyone involved during a construction project.

The bigger picture

We are incredibly excited to be taking this big first step, but are equally excited about our vision for the future. With simple and organized communication at the core, we think there is a huge opportunity to bring a fresh approach to many of the key aspects of running a construction business. From estimates and bids, to budget management and scheduling, to client selections, change orders, and payments - there are countless areas to help simplify and coordinate.

And while we are focused primarily on custom home builders and remodelers to start, we know there is a big opportunity to unite the entire ecosystem together. Construction projects are a team sport - it takes dozens of professionals and trades coming together to complete every project. These networks of pros already exist in every local market, and we are excited to be building a platform that brings everyone together to better serve their clients.

Getting Started

As we get started, we want to ensure a great experience for everyone, so we are offering a limited release preview to a select set of builders and remodelers. Over the next several months, we will slowly be opening it up to everyone.

We are also still looking to speak to as many people in industry as possible, so if you or anyone you know who would be willing to jump on the phone to share your experiences and feedback, please visit our website at https://buildbook.co to contact us or reach out to me directly at carson@buildbook.co.

And finally, a huge thank you the countless number of friends, family, and colleagues who have offered their support, feedback and encouragement along the way. We wouldn’t have gotten this far without you - and are excited to have you all along for the journey ahead.