Our Startups highlight series will share the stories of different startups in Vancouver. This week we will be sharing about a startup that is looking to shake the construction niche. The exciting about Niche startups is that you have a chance to take an pre-existing concept proven else where and create a solution that appeals to a niche. This month we are interviewing Jackson Jue from Builder Cycle, a SAAS management product, to learn about how he is building a SAAS startup that is set to transform the construction industry.
YVR Startups: Thank you Jackson for joining us on this interview, tell us about your SAAS startup in an elevator pitch
Builder Cycle: Construction sites are very disorganized and have yet to fully embrace the digital revolution. One challenge faced by site is coordinating hundreds of workers across dozens of trades. There is an information bottleneck at the site management level because there is simply too few managers to effectively communicate with all required parties. There is a need for a platform that can streamline the dissemination of information from managers to workers and our SAAS seeks to revolutionize this communication bottleneck.
Y: What’s the story behind you and your cofounder? What brought you guys together? What are your professional/technical backgrounds?
B: My cofounder and I both played Counter-Strike religiously. There was a local server that him and his clan would consistently play on that I would frequent as well. After kicking their butt (somewhat), they invited me into their clan and Brandon and I became close friends as he had just completed his first year of UBC Engineering and I was just starting my first year. Brandon graduated from UBC Engineering Physics and has worked as a Drupal developer and subsequently a senior project manager. I started in UBC Computer Engineering, but decided to switch into Finance part-way through my degree. Unfortunately, the result of the timing of the degree switch was not ideal, as I graduated in the midst of the great recession, so no jobs were to be had. Rather than sit on my butt, I put together a real estate deal with several partners from university, and bought, renovated and refinanced a 14-unit apartment building. I completed a couple projects in this capacity and when the market recovered and rising asset prices closed the opportunity, I moved into high-rise construction management with notable Vancouver developers, Westbank and then Wall Financial. In a nutshell, I come up with the value proposition, the deal structure, and Brandon works out the intricacies of bringing the idea to fruition.
Y: Which stage are you at with your SAAS startup? (Ideation/proof of concept & building MVP/ prelaunch/ Recently launched / Seeking funding/ Scaling / Exiting)
B: We are currently having our MVP built by a contracted software developer using bootstrapped funds. In an effort to control cost and schedule, this was bid out to local firms as a lump-sum contract. The target launch is at the end of September.
Y: What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?
B: The largest obstacle to overcome for our SAAS startup will be build an intuitive product that is tailored towards all degrees of user skill on job sites.
Y: How are you intending on growing your SAAS startup? Who are you ideal clients?
B: Initial traction will be demonstrated using a direct sales method aimed towards my network who work in the construction management industry. Once positive market uptake is demonstrated, we have Series A investors lined up to fund a round that will go towards building a sales team and marketing the product through trade shows and industry associations.
Y: Who is your biggest competition?
B: Our biggest competition is Microsoft Project. This is the current standard for project scheduling and it is a very powerful tool, however over the years the development has gone in a direction that makes the software overly complex and has not fully realized the collaboration potential of mobile devices.
Y: What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure)?
B: Many interested investors at the seed stage did not materialize into actual investors; they chose to defer to Series A due to the high-risk profile of a seed investment. The lesson learned was that numbers count, when it comes to the number of potential investors to meet, number of sales calls that need to be made to hit targets, etc.
Y: Anything exciting and fun to share about your SAAS startup/cofounding team.
B: We both have a penchant for subjecting our body to gruelling tasks: Brandon just climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan, and I’m just about to go cycle up a mountain. No pain, no gain. Physically and mentally.
Y: Thank you Jackson for sharing about your SAAS startup story with us, we wish you the best on your launch.
If you have a startup story you would like to be share, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always looking for startup stories to share.