Bricks And Bytes Podcast

#046 – Will Synnott – Transcript

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Do you think that is a personal bias in that we’re very much in this? Yeah, we are. We will. And I, you know, myself included, um, and everyone, all my competitors, but also everyone in construction technology in is in a, in a bubble. I do try my best to kind of step outside of the bubble and try to listen to the other sides.

What is up everyone. And thanks for tuning into another episode of the bricks and bites podcast. Your go-to for all things construction and property technology. On today’s episode we welcome Will Sinnott for the second time to dive deeper into the world of construction tech. Will updates us on what happened during his trip to Saudi Arabia and his thoughts on international expansion as well as what’s been going on at Disperse over the last year or so. We then go into a bit of a heated topic by way of 3D BIM. Stay tuned to hear more.

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All right, let’s get this episode started. And hey everyone, this is the start of a few studio podcasts that we have coming up at Bricks and Bytes. This is first of a few that we have already booked in July. And on today’s show we have got Will Sinnott from The Spurce. Will was one of our most listened to podcasts in the last year. So congratulations, whatever that might mean for you. Shame we don’t have some kind of trophy to give you or something. We need a few beers down there. That’s great.

Sharing some good news as well, Will is here. He’s… Disperse is making tracks in the construction world. I’m hearing some very good things externally, not just from Will, believe it or not. And also I am sharing some good news today in that I managed to make it to the studio on Southwest trains without breaking a sweat. Especially in the weather we’re having right now. So well done. You’re looking pretty smart today as well. Orange T-shirt. Where’s the white T-shirt? It’s the contrast. The contrast.

All right, Will, so yes, we are gonna speak today about what’s happened over the last year or so with Will and Disperse. Will’s recent… trip to Saudi Arabia. I think the sun tan has kind of faded. So it’s there. It’s there a little bit. And the weather recently has been pretty good. You pick up on the camera is probably more a case of it being a local parking. Yeah, we need we could do it some more like to be fair, the lighting in here is pretty strong. Lucas, please keep it. Cool. And we’ll talk a little bit about disperse and the new product. Yeah, yeah, got a new shiny new product look ahead, which I’m excited to talk to your fan base about. Excellent. And then we’ll talk about some general construction tech and then some potentially heated topics, but we won’t disclose what they are yet because I don’t want to wind Will up before we get there. Please leave that to the end. And this will also be one episode of two that we are recording today. So let’s dive on in.

So Will, what has changed in the last few months?

Yeah. Well, before I jump into that, I just want to say a big thanks for having me on today. and also to your listeners for listening to me and sending some of the DM messages I’ve had. I appreciate the message, appreciate what I’ve been talking about. I’m sure you’ll take it. But yeah, in the last, yes, I think the last November time when we recorded it, it was published in January and yeah, there’s a lot that’s happened. And I think I’ve not only have I learned a lot about the industry, but a lot more has occurred. Obviously, probably the biggest one is everyone’s talking is chat GPT. I don’t think that had been mentioned necessarily in November when we recorded. Now that’s everywhere. So that’s definitely a subject we can talk about some of the time. But in terms of just Disperse, we’ve had our Impulse product, which was launching just as we were recording, which I was talking a little bit more about. And now very recently, we just launched Lookahead. But also just like the industry in itself, I think there has been a lot more talk, not just around AI, because I know that’s a bit of a buzz acronym at the minute, but just in general in terms of technology about how we can help make the industry more efficient. it’s definitely being talked about more. I’m probably just a broken record. There’s a lot of podcasts, people talking about that. But I think one of the concerns I have, and this is probably where my little gripes, which we can talk about later, is that there seems to be a lot of construction tech that’s coming out there that people are using that just seems to be a bit of a band-aid or a plaster, depending on which side of the pond you are. And it’s not necessarily kind of like fixing the bigger problem. And then ultimately, they’re just sticking loads of these issues on an issue that they might have. And then ultimately, as the bill goes on, The construction sites are, you know, the guys on site, I’ve got like five, you know, 10 logins. And I think this is one of my grabs. Exactly. We haven’t just a big enough issue just in our general lives with the amount of different ways of communicating. You have iMessenger, WhatsApp, Discord, LinkedIn, Messenger, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, exactly. So WhatsApp is the leader though. Interesting in America it’s not. That’s not what they use. They use iMessenger. So like Apple. Interesting. You send someone and you get a green box. then yes, it’s considered anyway, that’s, that’s a whole nother. So you mentioned that you’ve been seeing more interest in construction technology. Do you think that as a personal bias in that we’re very much in this? I want to say, yeah, we all are. And I, you know, myself included, um, and everyone, all my competitors, but also everyone in construction technology in is in a, in a bubble. I do try my best to kind of step outside of the bubble and try to listen from other sides. I do think that. One of the issues in the construction technology, in construction, sorry, is that there is a bias, especially towards 3D BIM in the stage five or during the construction element, which I don’t think they’re necessarily seeing the broader picture and actually the issues that are actually happening on construction sites. And they werethrowing 3D BIM or 4D BIM or whatever at it and thinking that it’s gonna solve it. But I go on sites and I speak to people, I don’t see that. And this is something we can touch on a bit more later, but then there’s these biases around that. that people want once they’re in that club or they want to, they want to, you know, it’s their profession. Just like myself, you know, I’m trying to sell Disperse. I do like to try to credit myself that I’m a consultant, technology consultant. So I have a grasp of what other technologies are out there that are reality capture or progress tracking tools like Disperse. But at the same time, I can appreciate that you are, we are in a bubble and trying to break out that by trying to consume as much information from the lots of different people, but also having those debates. And I think we touched on a little bit. I just don’t see people having debates about the different technologies.

We were at the DCW, the digital construction week over in London, Excel a couple of weeks ago. There were some fantastic presentations that were posted, some great CPD, which is continued professional development for the Americans. So continue to add to your exposure and understanding, and which we should all do. We should all learn, and that’s one of the things I’m a big advocate is that we need to be curious, continue to be curious and learn. But… there’s no debates. I don’t see anyone up there having a strong conversation about, okay, is BIM good? Is BIM bad? And then let’s have a discussion about it. Get a bit heated. Yeah. But it doesn’t happen. And I think that’s the problem with these bubbles that we have, that we need someone to kind of come along and pop them so that you can break down the barriers. And then you can actually see what other technologies are out there. What is it actually causing to our guys on the boots on the ground, so to speak? Yeah, I like that. I like that. I actually do agree with you.

I don’t see much debate and You just reminded me of, I was at a conference called the podcast show a few weeks ago. And one of the, one of the people presenting was talking about advertisements. And he was essentially saying, I like that in a roundabout way. I can’t remember the exact word. I mean, he was saying he, he like likes to watch the adverts that pop up when you’re watching a YouTube channel. One of the audience members was just like, do you really like actually really questioning him and I do not see that in the world of construction. So yeah. And I think to, um, to help further the industry, I think you have. have these detailed discussions. And I mean, just to think of it for myself, I’ll go meet some clients, and I’ll showcase my platform to them. And I will do my best to showcase not just the functions and the features, but actually the use cases and what we’re trying to solve. What are the issues? One of the biggest issues on construction sites is, guys who are making decisions on the site don’t have the correct data. Data. Data is the wrong word as well. Insights. Insights to the actual site. Where is trade one, two, and three? Where are my snags? Or. punch list I think it is in America across my site. They’ll make some judgment calls based upon something that someone said or some emails. But they’re making those decisions based upon the insights from their data that they’re collecting, which is already really bad. And they’re not having, so we’re going back to my point, was that I’m showcasing, telling my potential client, this is what you should take us, and then they will go off, they’ll have a little tick list, and then the next person will come in and have a conversation. And I get it, you’re going through the different vendors and you should do, but I almost feel like there’s a point of like, well, let’s bring them in and let’s have a discussion and actually close that out much quicker. Because I much prefer to have an honest discussion with the right people in the room, which is another point which we can come on to, actually having the right people listening in to actually the technology that we’re trying to help. So the problem we’re trying to solve, that’s what we’re trying to do. That’s the issue you have, but actually get them in and actually have a bit more of a fruitful. discussion about it. I’ll be up for that. I don’t think that’s been done. I haven’t done that anymore. If anyone wants to have that conversation with me, more than happy to have a bit of a debate. A real debate.

Okay, we’ll host it. You mentioned earlier on GPT and I don’t want to take over the conversation, but it is very much a hot topic. And I’ve also formed some strong opinions and biases on GPT. Some good articles I’m pretty certain you’ve written. Oh, yeah. Thanks. Thank you very much. Yeah. Not done by GPT. What’s your thoughts on it right now?

Well, I think ChatGPT, but any technology like this, I think ultimately it’s helping level up the entire world in terms of their understanding or the ability of skill. So especially when it comes to English or grammar or your capability of the written word, or even if it’s just you ask ChatGPT to write you this podcast and I can then talk about it. I’ve got a script. Capabilities are massive. I see, but I also see it very similar to a calculator. And they hear me out. So when the calculator was first created and was a mobile calculator in the 50s and 60s, it essentially leveled every single household. that can now do the personal finances much better. What I would, you know, I was an engineer without Robert Berggrup and kept pulling out my calculator on my iPhone all the time. If you took that away from me, I wouldn’t be an engineer. I’d have to go back to my mental arithmetic and we’d suffer and I’m sure a lot of people listening would probably agree. But what I’m getting is that chat GPT and the technology that’s coming around. Anyone who’s got an okay at English or not very good at English, who just knows how to do some simple prompts, they’ve just leveled themselves up. Which I can understand like. There’s an issue of plagiarism, et cetera, but also like, is this actually what their views are? It’s based upon a billion other people’s conversations. But if you’re really good at English, or if you’re really good at the written language, use ChatGPT as a way of just leveling yourself up. That’s exactly what happened with the calculator. If you were really good at doing numbers in your head, or you’re an avacus, or whatever the technology was at the time, because, oh, he said it completely wrong. I’m not even sure I know what it means. Yeah, I think what I’m getting at is that it. If you were really good, if you were, you know, if you were a QS ona construction site and suddenly the calculator came along and you were always really good at your job, you just came, became 10 times better. And that’s why I think chat GPT is, I also think that that’s what dispersed do as well in terms of the technology. It also goes onto my idea about the construction. We’ve created the digital excavator drive. Yeah, I think. The point being is that these tools are not a replacement. They are an enhancement, should we say. Correct. That’s right. I have to share my thoughts because I have to get off my chest. But what I find now with these tools is the battle for SEO and Google rankings. Is any kind of baddish website or even people that are trying to do it well, you go onto their blog and try and read helpful articles. And it’s just obviously clearly written by ChatGPT. I had an email the other day from company that is trying to sell me products and it was clearly written in chatty poutine it’s just like you don’t even need to read it to know I feel like our eyes now because been around long enough I feel like our brains and our eyes are able to just recognize the pattern and the way that the text is produced to know straight away that yeah I’m not gonna waste my time well I think a lot of it was already done like a lot of copyright anyway so I think yeah you probably you’ve all just get spammed all the time I mean that’s what outreach is all about you know I think it’s changing And maybe this is something we can talk about, but I think spamming or sending lots of messages that are un-personalized, I think will ultimately just damage you. I think you need to, I think there was a term, I can’t remember what it was called, it was old business in terms of actually meeting and greeting and actually shaking people’s hands and actually taking them out for not necessarily coffee or beer, but building relationships. And I like to think that I’d probably always have done that, even before I became, gone into sales when I was an engineer as a consultant. But I think it’s becoming more… more prevalent, more required now, especially when it comes on to like understand that brand, your personal brand. And I think, yeah, there’s a whole element there we could, we could dive into. Yeah, definitely. I think, yeah, I think, I think relationships are probably still my number one favorite tactic when it comes to any kind of business deal like sales or anything like that. So anyway, so it sounds like you’ve learned a few things and I do agree, I think that this is a kind of bias. I’ve said that word too many times already, but I’ve definitely seen more excitement in the industry and Um, people are becoming more interested and that’s actually reflective for probably, okay. Some of the podcast listeners, but the numbers we’re getting as well, obviously going in the right direction. So then maybe this is a good sign, but let’s move on swiftly. Yeah. 45 minutes. We’ve got a very quick one. Your recent trip to Saudi Arabia and the middle East. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. What’s going on? Well, yeah, dispersed. We’re pretty fortunate that we’ve landed a project over in Riyadh. Can’t tell you too much. Okay.

So if I say, but we are getting the years time. But the Middle East or at least the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, there’s insane. Most people heard about the 160 kilometer mile. Absolutely bonkers. Yeah. The line is it? Line. Yeah. The neon, I think it is. But there’s lots of big developments. The one of the projects that we’re looking at, which we’re on actually, just next door, there’s something like 20,000 workers in the basement of this humongous. It’s just ridiculous. It’s almost when I was over there and just kind of, you know, driving on the highway and just seeing them out of tower cranes, mobile tower cranes and typical tower cranes, etc. It’s just insane. And it’s like, this is a middle of a desert almost. Um, all right. You know, reality is a big city, but this is on the edge of it. And just the size is just enormous. And when you look at everything, if you go into like B1M or Tomorrow World and you see kind of like the, the videos of what the scope and the scale of what Saudi is, it’s insane. And we’re really, we’re set up for that.

Dispersed to set up for these large projects. Okay. So is, so it’s the problems that we’ve grown and moan about in the UK and even the US like labor shortages. straight away. You obviously mentioned 20,000 or people or whatever in a basement. Is that, are those problems reflected there or from what you saw? I think it’s probably a little bit different in terms of how, you know, we can go into that subject about how they come from, et cetera. But I think it’s more a case of just about the oversight and overseeing the large amount scale of these projects. They’re building projects that are over a hundred, two hundred billion dollars. And that’s just one of them. It’s ridiculous. To give you kind of context, the UK spends a hundred and ten billion dollars. think it’s right in the UK GP. I think it’s like 10 or 11% of our GDP is on construction. And that’s probably a large chunk of that is rail and infrastructure. And in the other chunk, the other half is private industry where we’re building towers, et cetera, in schools. So you’d think they’re building that on a scale of one project, and they’ve got a dozen of them. So I think we’re like dispersed and other platforms as well. I’d like to consider myself a consultant, a construction technology consultant, but there is an opportunity here to help this growth and the oversight of the act. projects. If you think about the scale of these sizes, they need to actually have that. They have the insights across all these multiple projects to be able to make those decisions. And I imagine over time, especially as they start to scale, as they start to ramp up, the issues of supply chain is going to be, it’s going to hit them probably harder than most of us. You think how are they going to get all those materials? I mean, they’re pretty well set up in terms of having ultimate, you know, unlimited amount of cash. the kind of rules that we have over here when it comes to like certified timber and stuff like that. I don’t know, I’m assuming, but… I don’t know much about, you know, what they’re looking in terms of course number of timber, etc. I’m sure there are a number of projects over there, but just in terms of concrete and steel, you know, they have the ability to pay the higher prices as demand increases in supply. Hopefully it will increase and match it, but they’re gonna have problems, they’re gonna have logistic issues and they’re also gonna have those, you know, how are we gonna plan these projects out and… I think they’re going to be really emphasizing on short-term collaboration, planning these projects out. And we’re seeing that. But just, again, having the insights into the data that they’re collecting on the sites and actually be able to, right, we’ve got all these projects over here having issues, but what about these over here? And is it more of a playground for construction tech companies? Biased, I say yes, of course.

Talk to Dispersal, talk to one of us over here. But if you think about it as well, they have the opportunity to instill different types of workflows. that we are trying to push, but we all took a lot of your implementation was one of those things that I know I badgered you. Implementation is hardest, but now owner of a world famous meme. Oh, I love it. I appreciate that. But if you think about there’s a lot of set processes that we have in the UK or Europe and America, but they have a chance now in the Middle East or in Saudi because these jobs are so big that they’re, you know, they’re starting completely fresh. Yeah. And some of them. So, and if you look at like the people who are being recruited and moving over there. They’re a lot of expats, just like the same with a lot of Middle East countries, cities like Dubai and… And they’re a fresh shit ton of money at people. Yeah. Well, it talks, I guess. But my point when I’m trying to get at is that they’ve got opportunity there to then go, right, all this new technology has come along. How can we use this? Just like another analogy, like some parts of Africa, they’re completely skipping the mobile phones, sorry, telephone cables, et cetera, because they’re going straight to a mobile phone. And some of them are probably skipping that and going straight to Starlink. Is it Starlink? With SpaceX. So what I’m saying is that the old technologies that we’ve been using in the past, they’re out of the way now. There’s new stuff that’s come along. They have the opportunity to grasp that and then build upon that. They’re building upon the shoulders that essentially of giants that we were. If you think about it, the Britain and the world, we worked hard to get to where we are. We’re just still kind of like this transition to this new technology is going to be difficult. way slower. It’s like a”Dispersed to set up for these large projects. Okay. So is, so it’s the problems that we’ve grown and moan about in the UK and even the US like labor shortages. straight away. You obviously mentioned 20,000 or people or whatever in a basement.

Is that, are those problems reflected there or from what you saw? I think it’s probably a little bit different in terms of how, you know, we can go into that subject about how they come from, et cetera. But I think it’s more a case of just about the oversight and overseeing the large amount scale of these projects. They’re building projects that are over a hundred, two hundred billion dollars. And that’s just one of them. It’s ridiculous. To give you kind of context, the UK spends a hundred and ten billion dollars. think it’s right in the UK GP. I think it’s like 10 or 11% of our GDP is on construction. And that’s probably a large chunk of that is rail and infrastructure. And in the other chunk, the other half is private industry where we’re building towers, et cetera, in schools. So you’d think they’re building that on a scale of one project, and they’ve got a dozen of them. So I think we’re like dispersed and other platforms as well. I’d like to consider myself a consultant, a construction technology consultant, but there is an opportunity here to help this growth and the oversight of the act. projects. If you think about the scale of these sizes, they need to actually have that. They have the insights across all these multiple projects to be able to make those decisions. And I imagine over time, especially as they start to scale, as they start to ramp up, the issues of supply chain is going to be, it’s going to hit them probably harder than most of us. You think how are they going to get all those materials? I mean, they’re pretty well set up in terms of having ultimate, you know, unlimited amount of cash. the kind of rules that we have over here when it comes to like certified timber and stuff like that. I don’t know, I’m assuming, but… I don’t know much about, you know, what they’re looking in terms of course number of timber, etc. I’m sure there are a number of projects over there, but just in terms of concrete and steel, you know, they have the ability to pay the higher prices as demand increases in supply. Hopefully it will increase and match it, but they’re gonna have problems, they’re gonna have logistic issues and they’re also gonna have those, you know, how are we gonna plan these projects out and… I think they’re going to be really emphasizing on short-term collaboration, planning these projects out. And we’re seeing that. But just, again, having the insights into the data that they’re collecting on the sites and actually be able to, right, we’ve got all these projects over here having issues, but what about these over here? And is it more of a playground for construction tech companies? Biased, I say yes, of course. Talk to Dispersal, talk to one of us over here. But if you think about it as well, they have the opportunity to instill different types of workflows. that we are trying to push, but we all took a lot of your implementation was one of those things that I know I badgered you. Implementation is hardest, but now owner of a world-famous meme. Oh, I love it. I appreciate that. But if you think about there’s a lot of set processes that we have in the UK or Europe and America, but they have a chance now in the Middle East or in Saudi because these jobs are so big that they’re, you know, they’re starting completely fresh. Yeah. And some of them. So, and if you look at like the people who are being recruited and moving over there. They’re a lot of expats, just like the same with a lot of Middle East countries, cities like Dubai and… And they’re a fresh shit ton of money at people. Yeah, well, it talks, I guess. But my point when I’m trying to get at is that they’ve got opportunity there to then go, right, all this new technology has come along. How can we use this? Just like another analogy, like some parts of Africa, they’re completely skipping the mobile phones, sorry, telephone cables, etc. because they’re going straight to a mobile phone. And some of them are probably skipping that and going straight to Starlink. Is it Starlink? With SpaceX. So what I’m saying is that the old technologies that we’ve been using in the past, they’re out of the way now. There’s new stuff that’s come along. They have the opportunity to grasp that and then build upon that. They’re building upon the shoulders that essentially of giants that we were. If you think about it, the Britain and the world, we worked hard to get to where we are. We’re just still kind of like this transition to this new technology is going to be difficult. way slower. It’s like an innovator’s dilemma, right”Go for it”!

Like I mentioned earlier, we will have a part two where we’ll dive deeper into your expertise in the field. But let’s touch on the topic of communication. Can you provide some tips for startup founders or salespeople who struggle to effectively convey their message and explain the business solutions they provide? This question was most likely written by Martin because he often complains about going to construction tech company websites and being left clueless.

Communication is indeed crucial, and I believe many people face this challenge. To continually improve, my first suggestion is to talk to people. Interestingly, during my time at university, my nickname was “mumbles” because I tend to mumble even now. However, seeking a second or third opinion from someone who is not familiar with your website or affiliated with your industry is invaluable. I had a lady approach me once and asked me to visit her website, which was an AI tool. I struggled to understand what they were selling and what problem they were trying to solve. After some explanation and going through it, I provided feedback, pointing out the issues. I hope it helped them. If someone like me, who is in construction tech, had difficulty understanding, then it’s likely that others will face the same challenge. Therefore, my recommendation is to have someone unfamiliar with construction tech review your website. Ask them what comes to mind first. Is construction and technology apparent? These are good starting points for improvement.

The key is to seek outside opinions and gather clues because many software solutions offer similar outcomes, and the level of improvement can be questionable. Moreover, some platforms require excessive user input, which is a prevalent issue in the industry. Not only do users have to deal with passwords, but they also have to manually update programs while on the ground. While there are benefits to such platforms, it’s important to consider the user experience and strive for minimal input with significant output. Platforms should aim to reduce the burden on users, even if it means taking work away from them. For example, Disperse only asks users to review a small fraction of the photos taken on a construction site, saving them time. When engaging with vendors like us, ask about user input and understand what the day-to-day experience will be like. Trials are also important, and capturing lessons learned during the trial phase and sharing them within the industry is crucial. Unfortunately, the industry lacks a culture of sharing lessons learned, which is an issue that needs more attention.

To round off, since Disperse has been the focal point of our discussion, people interested in Disperse can reach out to me through LinkedIn. Send me a direct message, and we can organize a 20-30 minute chat to understand the problems you face on your site and determine if we can offer a solution. We also have information on our website, disperse.io. Additionally, for the next few months, if anyone mentions this podcast, we are offering the first three months free. So, take advantage of that opportunity. Finally, thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Bricks and Bytes Podcast. If you’re enjoying the show, please rate, subscribe, and leave a review. We appreciate your support, and we’ll see you in the next episode.

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