You know, we have such a fragmented industry that the data being collected is really hard to ensure that we have like the right data, the timely data and things change so much because like even data at one point may not actually truly reflect data today. So example could be that we have this mechanical contractor. they were like not that great, but actually they kind of changed their whole staff and now they are great. So the data that I had before may not be actually relevant now. So I can’t rely on that type of data.
What is up everyone and thanks for tuning in to another episode of the Bricks and Bites podcast. On today’s episode, we have Justin Sahang, a construction tech startup advisor and founder of Alman Saw Group. In this episode, we explore how the world of big tech differs from construction tech and what we can or can’t do about it. We also picked Justin’s brains for his best advice for startups in construction from product management through to growing and scaling teams.
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You are listening to the Bricks and Bites podcast, where we take you on a journey in construction, technology, and business. All right, let’s get this episode started.
So Justin, from Twitter through to Adobe, Uber, construction for your roles in Stanley, Black, and Decker, and beyond, how the hell does someone manage such a varied career?
I think I’ve always been a very curious person, always wanted to learn and pick up things very quickly, and always learn from others who are experts in their field. Naturally, I want to help solve problems and also help kind of dive deeper into the root of the cause of the issue and the problem.
I think, you know, the reason I was jumping through some different industries was really just to find where I had a passion. I think that’s very important for people’s careers, right? And some people find passion in social media. Some people find passion in marketing and whether it’s function or vertical. You know, some people like, you know, choose one way or another. I could be the best, you know, market product manager, support person. It doesn’t matter what industry, or I could be the best person in this industry and wanna learn so much about that industry. It doesn’t matter if I go from sales to engineering to product.
I think, yeah, in life, you’re just constantly learning and you’re constantly picking up new skills. You’re never too old to pick up a new trick. And I think different industries kind of lead and bleed into other industries. And it’s interesting to see some things come around, you know, from one place to another and see where some industries are lagging behind and some are still, you know, some are far more mature than others in different ways. So yeah. Yeah. I’m sure we’ll get into the bones of that later in the conversation.
I like your approach though. I would say that it’s very similar to something similar kind of approach that I have, like if you try a few things and like, you might find a passion for that. But like, you don’t have to just stay in one career and kind of like sweat it out your whole life. You can dabble in a few little things and then be like, I actually really like doing this. I’m gonna try and go and make a business in it or whatever you might do.
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. You could do some micro-pivots too. I think some people want to try eventually to get into a particular type of field. And they think that they’re only stuck doing this just because most of their career has been doing that. But, for example, at Twitter was going into tech, but that allowed me to get into more product management in tech. versus just strictly staying in like social media. And then from tech, then it turned into more industrial tech and then it evolved in, which was at Uber freight. And then after that, it got me more interested in industrial tech and B2B type of software, which got me more interested in construction tech. So it kind of had these little micro-pivots along the way. One leads to another.
Is there any one thing or two or three things that are common that all of these giants like Twitter, Adobe, Uber would have as a corporate environment to grow or each of them were completely different?
I think, yeah, that’s a very interesting question. I think most of the tech companies back, I would say pre-COVID, let’s take that time period for a second, had some general similarities around the tech culture that they were trying to imbue with the employees and the workforce there. And so heavily it felt that offering some degree of benefits, some degree of management style was fairly similar across the different companies.
I think the differences came from not only the work that you’re doing or the field that you’re in, but also came from the speed at which it moved. So take for instance, Adobe. I feel like Adobe is an established player in the market. If you think about it this way, they pretty much dominate the digital media. If you’re using any sort of platform to do video editing or image design, you’re probably using something that Adobe has either acquired or has built. And so in that case, the speed of development on some of their products is a little bit slower than of course startups where, you know, they’re constantly churning out. And that I think… is a result of over time being established in the market as you know, particular dominant player there.
For someone like Uber, especially for Uber Free, which was starting off, we were launching products, you know, every like, every month, every other month. And so a new product was either, you know, being created, launching or even dying. And so that speed is kind of like a different muscle that you’re building, which makes it much, much more challenging and difficult. And then I think Twitter was somewhat back then looking for its identity. I think it hit a plateau of 300 million active users and it was looking to kind of break through that ceiling. And that was more from an investor perspective. And so that was right when they switched from Dick Coslow back to Jack Dorsey. And so seeing that transition back and seeing that their culture was very transparent because Twitter is a transparent platform, they shared everything. you know, to, to their employees, which was something that I, you know, respected about their leadership. But yeah, I think in general, I think they all tried to embody a tech culture. The differences came from like, you know, the teams in between the processes and the speed that they worked with, particularly based on where that company was at a particular time in the market.
Okay. Got it. So given that you have experience within product management, you just touched on a few points. There are product development, should I say. Can you see any translation from companies like Uber and Twitter over into construction tech? Because this is, those companies all about speed, whereas construction tech is like slow to adopt. Like how do you see that?
Yeah, I think specifically within product management, I find that a lot of construction tech companies have great ideas. I think it’s really all about execution and, you know, in this type of environment, trying to move fast is really dependent on your end user as well. And so because Twitter was such a B2C consumer product, I can get millions of signals, you know, to tell me whether or not this product is working or not, and be able to make the adjustment to say, hey, like turning on that, you know, verification or turning on this type of ad type, you know, is not getting enough clicks, is not getting enough signals, versus I think in construction, you’re kind of waiting for people to start to use the product. You’re saying, okay, well, I can get one or two users. And so, I mean, depending on the audience, right? Like if you’re kind of mass producing a B2C product for all construction type of workers, yeah, maybe you can get some sort of signal, but even then, like considering the demographic of construction workers, I think, figuring out how to get them to download an app that you’d want them to use or even log on to a website that is more B2C, B2B is probably something to strategically think about how are you going to get enough signal to figure out how you’re going to make your product massively sticky.
I think thinking about Uber, especially with Uber freight, we were dealing with a similar demographic, ones that were resistant to downloading new apps, ones that were kind of a little bit stuck to the habit of this is how things are done, I’m not going to change my way. And so it took a lot of marketing effort for us to first get the word out and the brand out to get some. you know, someone established. And so we attended a lot of similar things like trade conferences and shows. We, you know, met with people, you know, at their office, we took rides with them on the truck. similar with construction. You’ve got to meet them where they are versus expect them to click on some sort of an ad. And so for the product management process, I think it gives you the time and to think through the problem a little bit more deeply. And a lot of people I feel like solve the symptom, not the problem. And they think, okay, well, you know, productivity is an issue. I’m going to try to solve productivity, but like, that’s a symptom of a lot of various aspects.
Justin, you touched on something interesting. Both Uber and Twitter, they are B2C platforms, right? Is construction, does construction have an opportunity to become a playfield? Play fields for B2C products or rather not?
Yeah, so let me take a step back because Twitter I believe has two angles. One is B2C, but also one is B2B. What you see as a user and scrolling through your tweets are B2C, but the ads have all B2B products. So if I’m working with like an Acura or Toyota, they’re looking at an advertising platform to figure out how do I easily create ads into Twitter. And so there’s a B2B product interface there. With Uber freight and actually some of the Uber products in general, Uber freight is more of a B2B product. So I’m working directly with Coca-Cola or Pepsi to get their shipments into our app so that a trucker could see the shipments on an Uber freight app and then be able to pick them and use them.
And so to answer your question, does construction have an opportunity to be a B2C app? I think a lot of the software you see out there are B2B. I think there may be an opportunity to be like B2B to C. So you’re still working through the companies. And I think, you know, it could be that someone has some sort of skilled trade app, right? That you’re like posting all your work on or, you know, showing off the products that you’re doing. But, you know, I think the question is, how do you monetize on that? And usually, for someone like Twitter and Facebook, they have to go through B2B in order to monetize, to fund a platform that B2Cs are using. So maybe there is an angle there. We don’t know yet. Yet to be explored.
So can construction learn from these big tech companies in terms of rapid evolution and adaptability, or is it a straight no, it just has to be slow?
No, no. I think it depends on the culture and the willingness to try things of the construction company itself. You know, I’ve had stories with construction managers who said, “Hey, sorry, my company just does not want to switch this, does not want to try this.” And so I think what you mainly need to think about is like, what is the cost of the switching? What is, what is the switching cost? And how does that affect your total cost of ownership? And so what I mean by that is for even one project or even one week of a project, trying this out, getting that set up. Is it a heavy lift or is it a low lift? And if it’s a low lift, then what is the risk of trying that would affect the rest of the downstream work? If it does work out well, what is the value? And so this is something I’ve been thinking about recently, but a lot of times value in construction is really created from the quality of work, right? And so we tend to think about value as money construction is synonymous with cost. That’s it, right? It’s like, great, you have a new app, you’re creating value, but that cost my worker five hours of their time this week. So you’re, you should, I’m willing to pay you, you know, X dollars a month for it. But that’s not exactly, but, but that’s only cost. That’s not value. And so the value then turns into what is the additional benefit you get when things do go right, right? It’s not just that you save this person’s time, but you know, did you have an average risk of slipping on a project of this? You know, was this behind? Did you catch up? If you caught up by a week, did we create value there? And so what is that week’s worth of cost and time for you versus just the week of doing the work in the past. So we got to look forward, not just backwards in terms of what value means.
Yeah, nice. I like that. Yeah. It’s very easy just to sort of see the end game as the cost and not actually the future value of what you’ve inherited. I think that is a really, really strong mindset shift for people that is actually really hard to drill into people in construction. Like I said earlier, it’s like ROI, ROI. Drill into people. I like what you said. Quite literally.
Is it also not a problem of demographics that the older demographics struggle with to adapt to new technologies and not so tech-savvy, like younger generation to flick through the apps, quickly check it, understand it, and move on. Maybe 10, 15 years from now, it will be much easier to implement construction tech just because of this fact that demographics will be much more inclined towards technology.
Yeah, I think that’s a good point in terms of just the demographic itself. I also think about the leadership buy-in. And so, you could have… You could have older generation leading the construction company, but if they are inclined towards adapting and trying something new, I don’t see that as a huge barrier, right? That just means that great, you have buy-in and what I’ve been seeing is a lot of construction companies create these innovation units, these then venture capital arms, and they’re trying to get a pulse on what’s going on in the industry before they get left in the wake. And so, yeah, I think it’s also a combination of just understanding what my problems are. I think construction is so go, go. It’s what have I made on this particular construction project versus let’s do a retrospective and understand what didn’t go well. And is that a common pattern we see in all our projects? Maybe something in the design was always missing. And if that thing on the design was always missing, is that a matter of process change or actually a product that would help us comply, catch all the issues beforehand? Even during the construction process, do we commonly work with a particular trader, subcontractor that’s kind of constantly late? And if that’s the case, why are we continuing to use them? Is it just because we only know them or you have some established relationship, even though the quality may be not up to par? So I find that there’s a lot of relics in construction that we kind of just don’t want to go back and look at.
It’s just, okay, why don’t we just move forward, try to get the next project because we’re so, you know, we’re wholly dependent on volume and margin. So that’s a very good point. Do you think it’s a lack of data or lack of right collection of the data to figure it out for people why things go wrong and why we don’t want to introspectively look into them? What’s the problem here?
Yeah. And I just want to be careful to not overly generalize on all construction, you know, in general. I think there will be some who look at the data, some who kind of take a retrospective and some who collect the data very meticulously as well. And I want to, you know, applaud and make sure that they’re rightly called out to say, okay, you guys are doing something already kind of above the norm. I think the frag, you know, we have such a fragmented industry that the data being collected is really hard to ensure that we have the right data, the timely data, and things change so much. Because even data at one point may not actually truly reflect data today. So example could be that you have this mechanical contractor, they were not that great, but actually they kind of changed their whole staff and now they are great. So the data that I had before may not be actually relevant now. So I can’t rely on that type of data. It’s heavy turnaround versus data that’s kind of like more about the system, about, you know, the internals that you’re working on, like the website itself. No, like it’s actually data about people and people are constantly changing. People are constantly shifting. That’s really hard to capture, you know, over time versus just like, Oh, I’m going to do a snapshot.
Yeah, got it. So give it like, you know, now involved with construction tech. So what are some kind of pointers that you can give and how would a con If you’re a construction tech startup founder, go about your product development strategy.
Yeah, good question. Big question, but any consensus? Yeah, I think I particularly enjoy going out in the field a lot. I feel like if a construction founder, so let me think about this for a second. Basically, a lot of times I see two types of construction founders. And again, I don’t mean to overly simplify everything. One is someone who comes from construction and says, hey, I know this problem really well. I just need to find someone who can help me build it, right? Then you have the other one who’s coming from a different industry that says, hey, I’ve built products before, and I’ve heard that construction is a great opportunity and a big market for me to kind of go solve problems. Like I love the TAM, et cetera, right? It’s like the $1.6 trillion number. That’s huge. They like all constantly put the same quotes that every other slides have. And so, great, they’re like coming into this industry and they want to build. I think of course the ideal person is someone who has both, be able to have been in the field, but also knows their tech and skills really well from a particular other industry or whatever. I think that’s where I see product management converging actually is that years ago, I kind of thought, okay, there’s a lot of people who want to go into product management. But I think that… In the future, product management is really going to also have an industry niche and specialty.
So your particular person who knows a particular industry really, really well and has done that before is going to be a far more dangerous product manager and just someone who’s going to come from some generic tech company and now coming over construction tech, right. Yeah. And so I think the lessons learned or like what to think about when you’re building a product, I think if you’re a tech person coming into construction, I think try to figure out how you could fill that gap of understanding the field, understanding the construction process, understanding that deeply. So that whether that means put on your boots and your PPE and just get out in the field and kind of create like, you know, understand what the field worker talked to them, see, Oh, someone’s walking around with an iPad. What are they doing? You know, are they necessarily just using another, you know, typical, you know, construction tech software, or are they actually, you know, doing something more manual and then vice versa. If you’re a field person and you’re like, I’ve got this really core problem I want to solve. I think it’s good to talk to other construction companies to ensure that it’s not just the problem that you’re experiencing because of your company, but that it’s actually a more widespread problem in the industry because that fundamentally affects your ability to fundraise and the scope of the problem and the actual applicability and adoption of your solution that you have in mind. The other general thought that I always keep in mind is like fall in love with the problem, not the solution.
And I think a lot of people fall in love with the solution. They say, Oh, I have this great product I want to build, I already know that there’s a problem, this is going to solve it. But why? Like challenge yourself, like constantly ask why and why you think that’s the case? Who have I talked to? Who have I validated this with? So I think a lot of times setting that up well will set you up well for the future because like what there’s some products are built very rigidly and they’re all going to have to change right? No product gets it right the first time, so build in a flexible way that you’re taking in feedback constantly and adjusting your product constantly. Cool nice yeah I really like it. Oh, and anything else about product? No, I think we’ve done a good little deep dive on that. Like it’s hard. You’ve milked it all out of me. You know, we could, we could go like another layer, but we have a lot of questions to get through. So mine, you want to move on to Almanzor. We’re all good.
Okay. So Justin Almanzor, what do you guys do in Almanzor? Yeah. So we help with a lot of construction tech companies solve their product management, their go-to-market, and their fundraising needs. So those are the types of projects I’ve worked on with various clients and various customers. And whether it’s a new startup or company that’s trying to figure out the product management in terms of the process and what’s right for them because it’s not just taking a tech product management process and then slapping it onto a startup. That’s not actually how it works because each one is different and each one is at a different stage. So what may look right for a Facebook type of world may not look actually right for this particular startup and its resources. And so that’s one way. The other way is with a go-to-market strategy in terms of how we develop our sales cycle, where we should target for marketing, what is the messaging, what is the ideal customer profile, how we should price. Those are things that I’ve worked on with various clients and helped them figure that out. And the other piece is fundraising, telling the story, understanding the pitch, who to connect them with, which investors are kind of like the right ones to connect with. And some may not just be the right one at the right time. Okay. Yeah. So do you also invest in these from Almanzor point of view, or you don’t invest? I am an investor, but that is not what Almanzor Group particularly is created as a vehicle for. I either do some angel investing, you know, a part of some different venture fund that helps support. Okay, great. So working with and along startups, do you see any particular theme or problem in construction that is being targeted quite a lot recently? I can’t say sustainability. Yeah, because that’s probably been on every single podcast. Is that less like the default answer? Yeah, I would say what I’ve kind of been seeing a lot of, I think, is around automation through robotics in a particular specific type of activity. And so to give you an example, there’s like, you know, of course we know some of the big names around layout and drywall and finishing. And then there’s other ones that are doing like tile grouting, like fixture, you know. So they’re very, very niche and specific, which I think is very interesting to see. And some are actually trying to assemble all of it together and say, Hey, I’m going to like, put it all together and say I have something that builds XYZ, you know, like a bathroom, you know, all automated, it installs the toilet, it installs the plumbing, you know, and I think I’m interested to see that evolve because that is probably one step closer towards fully automating construction in general, right. And A lot of times we’ve been seeing that more in prefab where you have a controlled environment to build your assemblies, your spools and pipes and be able to then ship that out.
And then someone else is gonna just like do the last leg work and assemble that together. And now I’m interested to see those robotics in a way taken either into prefab or out of prefab and be able to assemble all the pieces for you in a particular room. So that’s an interesting one. I know sustainability is not to be mentioned already because everyone… No, you can’t. You’ve given a good answer already, so it takes sustainability to be known. Yeah. Yeah, I think it’s also the flavor of the economy and the condition that we’re in. And so I probably don’t want to be the fifth person mentioning Chad GPT. Yeah. That’s the honor. Right? That’s what’s hot. That’s so hot right now that I think… Investors are probably like, okay, if you have anything with AI or generative AI in your pitch tech, I want to listen. I want to hear what you have to say. If you don’t have it and you’re just kind of another app, like, sorry, I’m not going to invest in you. Um, so those are, those are kind of the other ones that are just hot just because of the nature of what’s going on. And what do you, what’s the, how do you see the future both for Almanzo and what you guys are doing, but naturally you’ll also follow the trends.
Right. So. Where do you, how do you see that? Yeah, I think, yeah, with Almanzer, I think one of the things I love kind of doing is just more research and deep diving into different topics. So, uh, for example, another, I’m doing a joint kind of project with another consulting construction consulting firm, and we’re doing a deep dive into like pricing workshop. And so for us, we want to peel back kind of the layers behind, you know, how do you build your pricing? And a lot of people just say, well, let me just take my competitors, what they’re doing. And then I’ll just like copy that structure and that price. But there’s a lot of different pricing strategies that could be leveraged for, you know, your startup. And again, it’s not one pricing fits all actually depends on if you’re coming in as a premium, if you’re coming in as someone who’s kind of the low cost option, depends on how you’re differentiating as well as, you know, the particular persona you’re targeting and the product that you have.
So All those factor in as well as how your pricing is going to evolve. And there’s a lot of people think, well, let me just do one pricing change now. And then I’ll come back to it like two years later or something. But actually best practices in even like tech and Silicon Valley is like to constantly monitor pricing, to figure out like, what are some micro changes you could have here and there? And I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a lot of like AB testing in construction tech. It’s kind of like, well, let me just change it. Like what if they just subscribe for annual percentage on project value, percentage of project value, right? And percentage of like the construction company itself or number of seats, number, you know, by volume, etc. like, is there anything you can share about that? I know you probably don’t want to give away too many secrets, but like any cool innovative pricing strategies you could share yet.
Yeah, I think, you mean in terms of the workshop or you’d means in terms of like, like pricing itself. Yeah, because it sounds like you would need some good research into it. And like I just said, like the price per project is kind of, it’s kind of like, yeah, not lame, but You want subscription, right? You want subscription. Everyone wants the subscription. No, and everyone wants predictability. Like, there’s no, I mean, both sides want predictability. both sides don’t want this like kind of varying thing, but also both sides want again, value. And so I think that percentage of project was probably by nature of like taking a budget line item from the estimation or take off and saying, well, here’s my bid package. And because I slotted you for this percentage, that’s, that’s really what I could afford. So I think, yeah, I think just without giving away too much. One of the things that I think I’m deep diving into and can share a little bit more about is around key metrics. Just like look at, you know, the couple key metrics that you want to monitor. Don’t just like analyze every single metric out there and just have a dashboard.
I think that does no one that much good in terms of looking at a dashboard. But what are the metrics that are telling you that your price is on or off? You know, how do you know? I think I’ll pose that question out there with open-ended because that is something that kind of our workshop seeks to answer and help. construction tech company to answer. Stay tuned. And if you don’t know, if you don’t have indicators and signage to tell whether your pricing is on or off, how do you even know if you’re getting the most value out of it? So it’s kind of like driving in a direction without signs and you just kind of saying, well, unless the tumbleweed or some tornado hits me, I’m not going to really change courses. Yeah. That’s a very maybe silly question. How does one find out what’s which metrics they should follow in the business if it’s tech or non-tech? So when you say metrics, do you mean pricing metrics or? Pricing metrics so that they can evaluate them, see if they are off the baseline or benchmark that they should be sticking to. Yeah. How do you go about seeing it? We’ll take the class, take the workshop and then we’ll share with you. Sounds good. Hit me up. Just reach out to us at ElMansorGroup.com and we’ll see you there. site, hit me up and then happy to have a conversation. Awesome. Just to start off. Yeah. Also, you mentioned about that the hot topic seems to be automation robotics. And there is investors who are happy to, to invest in companies who provide like AI and this kind of stuff. So does it mean that currently the market conditions investment wise are still quite good or there is no so-called dry powder? The market, everybody that will… Yeah, as I’ve been going through with the client on this, I think the investment market, there’s still a lot of money waiting to get deployed for particular types of startups. And it’s kind of the ones we briefly talked about. If you think about from an investor standpoint, what’s hot right now and what’s going to be promising in the future, that’s kind of what they’re going to look to. invest in terms of that robotics AI type of feel.
I would say the amount of deals being made these days have dropped by a lot. So if you look at the stats, I think in the last quarter, there was about like an 80% or so drop in like, let’s say series A deals. And so your chances of getting investment money or cash somehow through investors is kind of a lower percentage. You know, just pure chance. So unless you’re differentiating yourself somehow from the pack and. You know, leveraging some of the new tools out there to help your business grow faster and how your product be that much more different or being a different product yourself, you know, that, that will heavily increase your chances to, you know, receive some sort of investor funding. That’s at least my hypothesis. It might take just put AI in the name. Right. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I bet you could probably Google searches and see dot AI domains are probably one of the most heavily searched ones. Oh my goodness. That was like, that’s a great investment strategy. Like, yeah, just go and buy a lot of dot AI domains and hold on to them. I’m sure it’s still too late now. Too late now. Yeah. Hey, Martin, why don’t you move on to your bunch of capitalist questions given that’s your bag.
Yeah, Justin, so you are a venture capitalist, right? Actually, I do in my previous days, yes, I was helping out in some different venture capital firms such as when I was at this company called Element Six Ventures, we were doing this was De Beers Diamonds, they had a venture capital arm for technology. And so I was part of their team. For Stanley, there’s a VC team, I was helping them with some of the due diligence. on more of the product side for some of the startups in the construction tech. So I’ve been a part of a few VCs in terms of just helping out, but like today, I think I interact with some VCs here and there. And so, yeah, so for example, I’m a venture partner for like a company called GS, a GS futures, and then I also help out with a few other VC funds as well. Okay. So how does one become a venture capitalist? If you can. shed some light. Yeah, yeah. I think in the most reasons. Yeah, it depends on what level you want to come in at. So when a lot of new grads and even a lot of MBA students that I’ve spoken with all, you know, who want to get into venture capital, there’s, you know, the advice or even feedback I share with them is if you look at the trajectory of most venture and see their roles and then just click their LinkedIn profile, just see where they came from. Most of them either come from some financial background like banking, private equity, some sort of investment background. And so that is mostly at one of the associate partner principle level. But as you move up and you go into like the GP and the managing partner level, right, and you see, okay, who created the venture capital fund in general. Usually, typically it’s either A, someone who started a startup and exited and now they have all this cash to deploy and say, hey, I want to reinvest it into this particular area. So let me create this venture capital fund and be able to deploy it. Or B, like let’s say they’ve made it somehow in some industry, whether they were some high level person or they were early at a particular startup and they had just so much equity and shares that they just cashed out. And now that Now they want to create a fund.
So those are usually the people who are creating the fund, which means that the contributed capital at the top level, like most of the money that the associates and analysts are actually doing all the analysis on and the fund performance on is actually their money. So it’s just some money and how they’re doing. Right. So those are usually the ways to get in and to think about, okay, do I want to get in early at a startup and, or stick it out and try to like, you know, help it grow and. And then eventually later again to venture capital, or do I want to start at like, you know, investment perspective and understand like valuations, you know, how to, how to do valuation analysis, how to do restructuring, how to like raise, help companies raise money and think about that. And eventually at like the investment banking, you know, you transition into VC if you want to. Mine also wants to know if we’re listening to every episode of the all in podcast. qualifies you as a viable venture capitalist. Yeah, I think eventually, you know, I think listed on your weekend on the bottom is like, avid listener of all in. He’s setting his CV around right now, so watch out. I didn’t manage to get a ticket since I was on holidays. They have a summit in September. Yeah, I was on holidays and I missed two episodes. Well, that’s why you haven’t landed the job, I’m afraid. I think in a simple way, if you think about it this way, there’s a lot of syndicates out there that you could be a part of. I myself am part of a few. And so that gives you the opportunity to see deals come across the table. And so you start to practice the muscle of evaluating, essentially, what’s a good deal, what’s not a good deal? Why would you invest in this company? Why did you invest in that company? What’s the need to stand out? did the market was market really big was a team really great was the product really different. And usually that comes across an investment memo, some interaction, you know, with the person managing the syndicate. So you could ask them questions. Oh, like, saw this one come across my table wants to get to know it a little bit more.
Usually there’s already a deal room that shares everything from the pitch deck to like the fund, you know, the company performance. So you could use as a stepping stone to say, Okay, I’ve looked at deals like I can see like why. these did well eventually and why these didn’t, you know, and why did I bet so much money on this one when I should put in this one instead? Yeah. You know, there’s, yeah, becoming a smart, smarter pretty much by, uh, by being in an environment of people like talking about it and doing it. Yeah. It’s kind of like one of those, when people ask, how do you get into product management and someone tells you, well, you have to have like shipped a product before I have done product, you know, like, well, how do I get, I can’t get a job in product management if I haven’t. haven’t like done product management before, that doesn’t make sense, right? And the same way, like getting into VC, you know, one of the few questions I’ll ask is how many deals have you done? And how many deals have you made? And so for you to think about how do I get, start to get active into deals. For someone who’s not formally in a VC fund, you could think about leveraging a syndicate, if you qualify to then think about deals and see how you evaluate deals and, you know, analyze them. And they all come in different. flavors, but they’re not going to be far off from each other. Straight, straight. I have to admit that’s the best answer I was given. Yeah. Straight Google in London, venture capitalists in the cut. There’s probably so many you could be a part of and you don’t even have to contribute too much as long as you like, you know, meet some minimum threshold. Right. Nice. Um, 1.2 million. Just look, we’re kind of running out of time, Justin. So some cool little thing I noticed on your LinkedIn, and I think we discussed it previously as well, is about growing teams. So it was Stanley Black and Deco, right? You grew quite a big team. Yeah. Like, can you share some insight into growing teams? Yeah, yeah. I think when I think about growing teams, I think it starts off with kind of the vision of where your team is going. And that’s ultimately putting on the cap of thinking about where the business is going and what the business needs are. And so I think a lot of leaders are very reactive, like, Oh, great. I need a support person now. Cause my product is not doing well or Oh, great. I need a designer now. Cause we’re about to launch something new. And so I think growing teams requires like a healthy amount of anticipation. You have to be like at least like two or three steps ahead of the game. I’d say, okay, if I’m going to like start to get sales by like end of next year.
Like I should start to build the network and think about who’s a good salesperson. And even within sales, let’s break that down a little bit more. What are the roles in sales from SDRs to account executives, to enterprise, you know, salespeople to even managed account, you know, so, so to think about that and, and spend time there, I think is very important and think about like, I think this is where tying back together my experience at Twitter, Adobe, Uber, Freight was thinking about what did the teams look like there and why did it work? Why did it not work? Why did people turn really fast? You know, at some companies, why do people stay very long? Were they even effective? What were they measured on? What was their success metric? Were they motivated by their performance, you know, reviews or were they not motivated by that because of a particular way? So I think there’s a lot of human elements. even some sort of people strategy to think about when you’re growing and scaling teams. So on a similar subject, if I can interrupt Owen, so teams, great, but how do you delegate? What is your way of delegating? Can you delegate and how to become effective in delegation? Yeah, yeah. That’s a really… Interesting question, just because I think a lot of first time or even like second time managers struggle with delegation. Because, you know, I was just having this conversation with colleagues the other day, being a good worker doesn’t mean a good manager.
And being a good manager doesn’t also mean they’re a good work. Yeah, yeah. So a lot of it’s very different. A lot of times people translate, okay, now, you know, a lot of the big companies that you’re in, you get promoted, and you’re like, great. I got promoted into this role and I’m overseeing one person, but I also still need to do my day job and still deliver this. So they expect you to almost do two jobs. So that mentality shift is really hard to decouple. And so delegation to your point, Martin, about how to delegate and how to delegate well, I think starts with honestly trust. Like if you hire someone who is just trying to look good in front of you and just because you’re the boss or the manager, I wouldn’t say boss, even like the leader, let’s use that as a word. Because you’re the leader of the organization and that person reports to you, a lot of times in the corporate world, you’ll see people trying to report with good things like, oh, we did this, we did that. You know, I think good leaders kind of tend to ask, you know, more of not like, how was your week? And then you hear just report of things, but more of, you know, you know, how’s your team been performing? What are some things we could work on? You know, just get straight to the part that’s kind of issues rather than good things happen, like, let’s just keep up the good stuff. Right. And so you’re constantly kind of feeling like you have to bring good things to the table, good reports. I think the delegation begins with trust so that you could actually say, hey, like, can you take care of this? And a lot of the first time managers feel like, oh, their work is not exactly what I would do. So let me go and correct it. And that gets into the territory of micromanagement. So the delegation, I think, with trust is more because It may not be perfect, but it gets the job done and it conveys the right message and it gets the right point in terms of what that deliverable or that end output looks like.
So that’s a totally okay versus it’s not formatted a certain way or it’s not written a particular way. So that’s what I’ve learned a little bit from, from my time. Nice. I like it. All right. A good answer. Thank you. Okay. Let’s go on to off topic questions, but I mean, the one I have really is, is not like necessarily off topic and actually quite on topic, but also relevant, but how. For someone who is obviously your varied background and people listening like maybe in university and place like that, and they’re not really sure what career they wanna necessarily jump into in construction. So they wanna dabble a little bit. Like what, do you have any advice for people that like in a role say, and, but they wanna go and try a little bit, like a micro pivot as you said. Is there any way do you go and speak to your boss and say, I wanna do this or is it some other things you can do? Yeah, if they’re already in a particular company and starting some work, you know, so if they’re already in a particular company and they’re kind of just coming out and want to try different things in a micro pivot, you can always try to take on side projects. I think, for example, at Google, there’s something called like a 10% project or something, or basically some
percentage of your time is allocated towards doing something that you’re passionate about or something that you could try out. So that’s actually how a lot of Googlers switch. roles. If you think about Google as like a giant company that has many, many companies under it, it’s not just Google. There’s all these different divisions, all these different business units. Giving you the latitude and the freedom to try different things on, whether it’s your off time or even part of your time dedicated to that, allows you to take those risks and chances in micro-pubic bits. That’s, for example, some of my friends who’ve switched into product management They may have started in a sales role. They may have started in a marketing role, but they were always curious about doing something a little bit different. And so, I mean, look, your foot is in the door already at a company. What’s the harm in trying to ask for like doing another project while still, you know, maintaining the quality of your current work. So, yeah. Okay.
Justin, is there any book that you recommend to people the most? Depends on what you’re looking to learn. I think if you’re looking to learn about people’s incentives and how to get people to do things, there’s a book I read in the past that I sometimes think about is called Nudge. So that one is about small design and products that actually affect people’s kind of behavior. And so if you take that into the physical world, if you think about a door handle, when there’s a door handle and the first thing you think about is pulling. And then don’t you hate it when there’s like a sign that actually says like push. And you’re like, oh, well, why did you, you’re in a bar instead. That was like a very prominent example of that one. You know, there’s I’m, I’m a fan of like reading these little like micro case studies and stories. And so there’s a one called like, well, Freakonomics is a good one. Yeah. I’m just thinking off the top of my head. There’s one about marketplaces called who gets what and why. So as a professor who looked into like the matching case study, so if you think about like matching things. without like leveraging price, like how do you match the right people with the right outcomes? Yeah, there’s a good amount of other books. If there’s a product management one. With a design of everyday things? That one is a good one too. I’ll figure it out. Yeah, sure. Okay, cool. So Justin, yeah, I felt like we could have dived quite deep in a lot of topics. So that was quite a swim through, but where can people find out more about you and your current endeavors? Yeah, yeah, I think… I’m fairly open to just people reaching out. So almanzagroup.com. I have a contact sheet that you can just reach out to. You can hit me up at justin at almanzagroup.com.
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