At Heathrow airport. Waiting for my flight. Last calls echo in my ears as I squeeze my way through the crowd towards a pub full of business people and families on their way for holidays. London’s Bridge, the pub is called. I hear a fat Texas accent from one corner, spot a Chinese couple engaged in what appears to be a deep conversation, notice a group of South American businessmen with very serious moustaches seated at the next table. On the background, the sounds of a Lady Gaga song mix with football game commentaries from the tv. The buzz of sounds, desires, and destinations of the world quiets down as I take a seat, taste my full-bodied red wine, and reach for my iPad.
I’m on the way home from negotiations, the plan is to introduce GBuilder to the UK market in the near future. Our platform currently contains about 23 million material options for construction companies to offer their customers. We are partnering with Rakennustieto (Finland), NOBB (Norway), and BIMObject (Sweden). In Finland, over 10 000 homes are now modelled and visible through out platform with the selected materials in 2D, 3D, VR, and even as holograms using Microsoft HoloLens. Now we are rapidly expanding abroad. Our first customers outside Finland are in Norway, but we are also negotiating with several companies in the UK, UAE, and DACH areas. We are taking part in a Fusion Proptech startup accelerator program in Geneva, Switzerland. During 2019 we are planning to open offices in Spain, Norway, Britain, and Austria. Five years of hard teamwork is now snowballing into customer requests.
A guy I met recently on a business trip asked about our competitors. I’m aware that the competition is out there. Some offer home buyers 3D tours of the property, some sell project management tools or material databases. Some even combine two of these. Still, their offering is not as whole. To offer materials digitally to construction companies and home buyers, with deliveries from the manufacturer straight to construction sites… I know we’re ahead of the curve, there.
The basic rule of thumb is you must be able to sell your business idea in seven seconds. Amazon of your home? I gaze around, my glass still half full. Not really looking at anything, but thinking about all that has happened recently. I should summarise all of it inseven seconds? I lean back and let it sink in.
As we are expanding, it is crucial to stay tuned about how our core business statement matches the word from the field. We need to understand clearly what the main questions our current and future customers are dealing with, today and tomorrow. This is what our team is discovering, whether at the shores of the icy Arctic Sea or visiting skyscrapers under the burning hot desert sun.
Our CSMO Jarmo Ollila is currently travelling in Dubai. What is remarkable about the United Arab Emirates is the sheer size of construction projects; a single project typically means thousands of apartments. Jarmo tells me how the locals are struggling with finding ways to improve the communication between sites and home buyers. The main thing would be to get a more holistic view to the process, costs, and data flow. To summarize: the big picture. Our COO Henri Pajarinen just gave a speech in a seminar in Oslo, sharing our views of how to build bridges between construction companies and material suppliers. Our Creative Director Antti Majala flew to Geneve to contemplate on the ways companies can differentiate through branding. How do our customers view us – are we the ConTech rebels, caretakers, fans, or creatives?
Stepping into this emerging new era of construction in the frontlines is humbling. We all feel privileged to be a part of shaping the future of the industry. My topmost feeling now is acceptance. It is starting to dawn on me that we are dealing with something so new and different that it cannot be compressed into a seven-second punchline, not just yet. Not by any of us.
With this, we continue to move on. I pack my things and head towards the gate.