Episode 49 – Paul McCarty
Replacing Calls, Notes And Texts With The WhatsApp For Construction
Paul McCarty is the CEO & founder of Snapfix. Snapfix has been labeled “WhatsApp for Building Management and Teamwork”.
They use photos, tags and messaging (just like WhatsApp) to manage everything in a building, from Maintenance to Housekeeping, Fire-Safety Checks and Health & Safety Checks.
Paul has 25 years in software development as well as managing property for a family business.
Paul shares the simple solution snapfix created to use photos to manage buildings & teamwork.
What quick steps can you take to turn an idea into a business?
What steps did you take to take that seed idea into something now that’s gone on and taken on, let’s say seed investment and forward investment past that?
Well, being a software developer, I knew all of the different steps of building a software platform. So the very first thing I did was I spoke to plenty of other companies and realized that they all had the same problem. And then I went out and I developed a very, very simple prototype, a really, really simple prototype, where I was able to go back to all of those customers and say, “If I was to create something like this, would this be of interest to you? Would you use something this simple?”
Now I have to tell you, Ciaran, the prototype was very rough and very, very early stage. From that you build what they call in the trade, a minimum viable product. So it is the smallest version that gives value to the customer. And that’s what I got out to some of the initial customers.
And by getting a product in front of real customers as quickly as possible allows you to harvest the feedback and what you may have thought in the design stage is what they were looking for, isn’t always what they’re looking for. So that feedback loop always helps you to refine it and refine it and refine it until you get to your version one essentially.
At that stage, Paul, are these customers that you’d be charging or just sort of friendly customers?
Friendly customers at the very, very beginning. And then from that, the very, very early adopter customers would get a very, very attractive price because you always value their feedback.
But no, I met some incredibly positive customers in the very early days who got what I was trying to do, an absolute focus on simplicity, an obsession around simplicity. And I was iterating and trying different things until we got to the Snapfix we have today.
I want to build a technology solution to a construction problem, where do I start?
Is your question around somebody creating a technology company?
Let’s put a real life scenario on it. Someone’s walking in the trenches day to day, they see problems. They think they have a solution to it. Where do they start?
To build their own product?
Okay. Okay. Well, I’m a big fan of Paul Graham and the company Y Combinator in the West coast. The first piece of advice, Paul Graham always gives is, build a solution that people want. So talk to enough of your peers or talk to enough of what could be customers and make sure that it is a problem that people will pay for.
When you build your prototype and you get your early version of your software, your solution out, get it into trial hands very, very quickly, because that feedback will be very, very important. You’ll be doing stuff that doesn’t scale, as you mentioned now Ciaran, right now we’ll do a Zoom call with a hotel or a company in Alaska or New Zealand or Australia.
Whereas when I started out two years ago, I was driving down to County Clare. I was driving down to Kerry. I was driving to Galway. I was getting in front of customers knowing full well that that process could not scale, but it was the best way to meet real customers and get real feedback. And now we’re at a position where everything we do is on Zoom, but we recognize the value of that starting point.