Given my background in Energy and construction, I repeatedly found myself looking for skilled quality inspectors. It stunned me how slow and expensive the big hiring agencies were, and many of my colleagues or other construction professionals I spoke to weren’t too fond of these solutions either. Besides, sourcing inspectors from abroad was virtually impossible with the existing solutions back then. That's why I decided to start Buildstream. Now, accredited construction auditors have a central place to look for international new projects, as opposed to dwelling on Linkedin.
As many other marketplace founders will probably acknowledge, cracking the infamous chicken-and-egg paradox can be really challenging. After several iterations, we managed to onboard high quality of supply through targeted ads and organic referrals. Finding ways to assure a high-quality influx of both supply and demand takes time - don’t stress if it does not work out on your first try.
Buildstream offers a two-sided solution. On the one hand, it helps inspectors to find their next project a lot quicker, without the hassle of expensive and impersonal agencies. This causes many of our construction auditors to be paid better and have a more predictable income stream. On the other side, project owners can now find the right man or woman for the job in minutes, as opposed to contacting that same expensive agency. We also screen and vet our inspectors, to make sure that people are fully licensed for the job.
The operating speed. From the moment we first connected to shaking virtual hands to close the deal took just over two weeks. DFF also has a dedicated team available to support on press coverage and overseas introductions - something you don’t see that often. It is cool to see that you guys really take the time to sit down with all of your founders to tackle any obstacles and to seize any opportunity. With monthly check-ins and genuine involvement, working with DFF has really felt like a ‘partnership’ rather than a passive investment.
The power of your network. It took us a few weeks to ‘warm up’ and get into the flow of fundraising, but once we had activated our network the ball really started rolling. It still amazes me how one connection can open up an entirely new group of people. Through a mutual friend we got introduced to other investors and advisors, and now we work closely together with many Europeans - people whom we would have never met if it wasn’t for that single connection. Try to leverage network effects in any way possible - both in building your marketplace and whilst fundraising.
To be the leading quality-assurance marketplace with a global reach. We are already active in 14 different markets and aim to increase that number in the coming months. We are building a platform for a global network of tens of thousands of industry professionals, not just auditors working in engineering or construction.
The importance of asking the right questions to your customers. Might sound like an open door but in the early stages of building your business, it is extremely important that you devote your attention and resources to finding the right solution for the right problem. Be objective and honest with yourself. Make sure that you don’t subconsciously try to guide people in your desired direction. A lot of people tend to go along with your questions out of politeness instead of pointing to the real pain point. Dig deep and uncover what your customers really want. Don’t rush this.
Mark Roberge, ex CRO at Hubspot, wrote brilliant books about how to grow and build a stellar sales team. His youtube webinars are also a not-so-hidden-gem for founders looking for tips on how to build a killer sales machine. Highly recommend!