Bricks And Bytes Podcast
April 6, 2023

#002 – Victor Muntés – Transcript

Bricks and Bytes
Bricks and Bytes
#002 - Victor Muntés - Transcript
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Show Notes

Victor Muntés

How does the onboarding process look like? When you start working with someone, how do you onboard them, and what are the first steps you take? Typically, we have a relatively small period for onboarding our solution, where we need to connect our solution ecosystem. We include this with our licenses, doing it for our customers because we understand they are focused on executing project operations. First, we understand the digital ecosystem and connect to the different tools in that ecosystem. If they use tools we’ve never worked with, we implement evidence collectors to extract information from those. We hold a couple of sessions with clients to understand the workflows they want to monitor and their appearance. We define these workflows on our platform, validate the proposal with the customer, and analyze potential risks on top of those workflows. Once everything is plugged in, the system starts producing value immediately, as clients can understand the level of risk of different non-physical assets in real-time. 

Although it’s not exactly plug-and-play, we try to make it as close to that from the customer’s perspective. It requires time to connect everything, and there’s always a gap because customers need time to grant data access. However, once plugged in, there’s no need to worry. 

Customers don’t have to do much at all; we’re reducing the friction for them to onboard our system. We target companies working on projects worth $60 million or more in construction, and we have an international scope. With co-founders based in Barcelona and Poland, our first contract was signed in France. We’re more active in Europe but have started partnerships in the US with a software company that offers a platform for construction. Our company has been selected for various accelerators, including the largest accelerator in Silicon Valley in 2021 and another in Peru this year. We’re open to exploring construction projects globally, as location isn’t a significant factor. Our next potential destination could be Saudi Arabia, where they’re building the world’s tallest building. 

Despite being established, we’re still participating in accelerators to extend our presence in geographical locations worldwide. This strategy allows us to continue exploring different markets. Participating in accelerators offers value in various ways, particularly in targeting regions where we haven’t previously had any activity. We’re always looking to expand our reach and establish connections with potential clients in new regions. 

How do you do it? Like, what’s your process? How do you acquire customers? How do you grab it, catch it? It depends a lot, typically because we are trying to contact the largest construction general constructors. This is an art. So there is no systematic way of doing that. You need to start contacting people and try to understand who the decision-maker is. Decision-making is very crucial. The processes to make decisions are crucial to understand because typically, especially if you’re talking to the project director of a mega project who is managing a 2 billion budget, they don’t have time to understand the details of your solution, but probably they love the value that you bring because you are saving them from delays and budget overruns. But typically, they delegate the solution to other people who might be much more focused on their activities, but maybe they don’t see the large impact that this may have on the project. Therefore, finding the right people to talk to is, again, an art. So, basically, what we are doing is we have a sales force that is trying to get connected to as many companies as possible. As you probably know, the construction sector is typically a slow sector, especially when it comes to making decisions related to digital transformation. Therefore, you need to have a lot of opportunities running in parallel to make sure that you have a decent level of deals closed in time. 

Yeah, we fight problems of the past instead of looking for solutions of the future. That’s true sometimes. It’s essential to help the industry realise the potential benefits of embracing digital transformation, as it can lead to significant improvements in efficiency and risk management. By demonstrating the value our solution brings and connecting with the right decision-makers, we hope to encourage more construction companies to adopt innovative technologies and look towards a brighter future. 

Yeah, I like what you say. Always be prospecting, trying to get people to use your product and selling. And on that note, I guess you touched on the sales point, but if you had any key things for construction businesses within construction to help bring their product to market, what would your advice be? 

Well, it depends on which aspects we focus on. So first of all, if we are talking about a start-up that is starting from scratch and they need to survive in this ecosystem, which is very hard because it’s an ecosystem that is getting more and more used to interacting with start-ups, but it’s not at the level of other sectors. You can do it by combining private funding and, if you are able to do so, public funds, for instance, from the EU or your country, to be able to invest at the beginning in the technology and grow a very strong technology that generates trust in your potential customers. 

Avoid growing your team too fast. If you grow your team too quickly and that doesn’t match the needs of your customers, you may fail because you are using resources without really understanding where you have to go. Market research is essential. Being driven by your customer requirements is crucial, so as not to waste your energy and efforts in doing something that might not be relevant. 

Maybe another piece of advice would be to always be eager to get external advice. So, make sure that you create an advisory board and try to get people who bring different perspectives, like knowledge about how to build a business, knowledge about the construction sector, and knowledge about the investor ecosystem, so that 

they can bring value. Don’t hesitate to open up your project to include people who are able to bring value to your project. Yeah, great advice. That’s very helpful. Thanks. 

Do you guys look for investments in your business or is this past the stage now? You never pass the stage, let’s say. So we already got some initial private investments. We are still at an early stage in our growth. For sure, we will require more investment in the future, probably around the end of the year, beginning of next year. And definitely, we will be actively talking to anyone interested in collaborating or partnering with us from a technical perspective, let’s say, or from a financial perspective. So, very open to anyone who wants to know more about this. 

Why? Because, first of all, the incentive for people finishing a project to invest time without any immediate incentive, putting data in a database is low. And also because you need to change the culture from people starting new projects to spend time looking for information that may or may not be relevant for them. So I think that artificial intelligence is going to change that because if you use AI or train AI models during the execution of a project and reuse those models in the upcoming projects, then all of a sudden you are using lessons learned from previous projects in a very transparent way. So users do not even know, they just get recommendations. That’s also what we do with BeAware, which is enabling a culture of lessons learned, which is transparent to the final users. Continuous improvement, Kaizen, continuous improvement on projects. 

Yeah, because before they go on-site, these projects, there are some for these large projects. There are years of preparation, there’s years of design, actually. So, is the solution that you’re proposing, does it touch, how does it relate to like a design, does it relate to the design and the preliminary stages somehow? Because my understanding of it, I work on very small projects, so it doesn’t relate, but the site, preparing the planning permissions, and design, like structural design, architectural design, interior design. And there are so many mistakes sometimes made on this, and then there’s a problem during the construction because of these mistakes. So, is there anything that you guys can do about this within BeAware? 

As always, we are discussing our roadmap and getting into the contents of aspects of those documents that may generate issues in the future, as you’re mentioning, is not in our current solution, but could also be an extension because it’s all about risk at the end. So, if you are able to detect automatically aspects of your design which might generate risks in the future, that’s also risk management. Today, we are focused on the metadata level. So, for instance, for documentation, we will not get into the contents of the documents, but we will monitor when they are submitted, when they are approved, when they are sent to the clients, for instance, etc. We will control the workflow. 

These workflows happen in different phases of the project. For instance, in the particular case of documentation, you are generating documents during the design phase, you are generating documents during the construction phase, and you are even generating documents in the handover phase at the end of the project when you need to close the project. We are quite agnostic to the phase approach because you always have ongoing workflows which may generate risks in all these different phases. 

Nice. Just looking at the time. Maybe one or two questions from this little black box we have at the bottom here. 

If someone gave you an unlimited budget to invest in any emerging business technology trend, what would you spend it on and why? I think I know the answer, but let’s say not AI. I don’t think you know the answer. So let’s see. Okay. Assuming I think I can assume that I do not have financial problems if I have an unlimited budget. And I think I could invest in something that has the potential to help humanity solve some of the main challenges we face. So access to water, fighting pandemics, reverting climate change. To be frank, I think life is too short. And at the end of this life, I want to be sure that when I look back, I’m proud of myself. I contributed somehow to make the world a better place to live. Probably there are AI aspects of it. Probably there are other technologies involved, but I’m not a big fan of investing in technologies because it is the application of the technology which really makes the technology relevant or not. Technology per se is just a hammer, and you can use a hammer in many different ways. So, yeah, I don’t know if that was the answer you were looking for, but that’s my answer. I didn’t expect it, but I really, really like it. So thank you for that. 

And mine, you wanna fire one? Yeah, so do you think that currently people need to have a tech background to succeed in tech businesses in construction, but not only? The reason I’m asking is that I have an engineering background, but I’m very interested in tech and the junction between tech and engineering and construction; that’s the gap which needs to be bridged to create businesses of the future that will allow to scale solutions and will be basically up to date. So that’s my question. 

So definitely, a tech background helps. That’s obvious. Then I would say that it depends a lot on the type of business that you are building. So for businesses built on top of novel technology, it’s probably essential because the secret sauce is in the technology. And you need to be better than or different from other technologies. But many businesses just use existing and relatively new, maybe technology, for new applications, and the focus is on the application rather than the technology. Maybe you don’t need in those cases to have a tech background for that. 

So I think you need to understand that digital is changing everything. You need to understand the implications that this has on people, meaning your users, your clients, etc. It’s more about the psychology of the effect of using technology, rather than understanding how a neural network works and how data is provided inside. But if your question is about, should we encourage people with technical backgrounds to start new projects? Yes, definitely. Because they have different perspectives about how technology can benefit projects in a more abstract way. And then mixing people that understand the problem they have in their industry, with people that understand how these tools can be used to solve problems in general, it makes the magic in many cases. Yeah, so it’s like you actually, because you have never been, I guess, a site manager or a project director or anything like that. You’re looking at this from this nice technology angle, yes? 

Yeah, we need more Victors in the construction industry. Yeah, that’s true. I have never been there. Although, my co-founder of BeAware , Jasek, he comes from a family with a long tradition in the construction sector. So he has heard a lot of stories about inefficiency in construction and all these things at home. And that’s one of the reasons that pushed us to go towards this sector because we saw the opportunity. 

Bringing together individuals with diverse backgrounds, such as those with expertise in the construction industry and those with a strong understanding of technology, can lead to innovative solutions for long-standing problems. It is important to have a holistic approach to tackling issues in construction, combining practical experience with cutting-edge technology to drive improvements and efficiencies within the sector. 

 

 

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