Sales for Startups founder and CEO, James Ker-Reid, talks to Harry Molyneux; a pre-seed founder and CEO of Buildupp, a marketplace that matches homeowners with the best companies and financing products to help them renovate their homes.
Over to the interview with James asking the key questions and answers:
- Harry, thanks very much for being here, tell us a little bit about your company?
We are a B2C marketplace connecting homeowners to the professional teams to help deliver their home extension projects. I built a system to guide a homeowner through the process so they can do it manually. There’s a big issue for projects below a hundred and fifty thousand pounds, nobody’s taking control of projects that are less than a hundred and fifty thousand pounds. Home owners get charged for design fees/service fees and are then left to manage it themselves. I built this product where I was offering free project management service, and then taking a cut from everybody I introduced the homeowner to.
- Where have you now reached with the business?
Now we are a matchmaking platform, connecting homeowners directly with design and build companies. We pivoted to that the two weeks before everything shut down. So we’ve got one project now under this new guise. The biggest mistake I made, and I think any new founder can make, was raising too much money from friends and family early on. First time founders spend all their money on their product. Second time founders spend all their money on distribution. So this is what I’m doing now, its sales and marketing. My product is a website, and even though it is the same business, what I’m working on is my third idea in about four years.
- What are you concentrating on right now and for the next few weeks?
I’m doing content marketing. I’m writing a lot of pieces about why people don’t need to go to an architect to deliver their home extension. The plan is to write attention grabbing headlines that relate to the problems that we’re dealing with at the moment, how to prepare with the upturn when coronavirus is over.
- What do you think the next six to twelve months looks like for you and the business?
My opinion is to stay as lean as possible. I don’t think a start-up, who’s a first time founder, should ever think about raising money until they have found a way of building something that supports themself, or the founding team. If you do that it makes your life so much easier. In the next six to twelve months to be honest, I want to get myself into that position where I can either decide to change it to a lifestyle business or raise VC funding. If I can get that making process working really well, it’s profitable. I could find five to six projects a month myself and I’ll be on a very nice salary, and I’m in a fantastic position.
- Do you think the early stage, pre-seed and seed companies, this crisis may be quite humbling for many?
I have had loads of humbling experiences. I’ve been doing this for four years and it’s been a really up and down journey, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. My advice is to find that first idea, stay in a full time/part time job until you’ve got your thing making money and then leave.
- What advice would you give to founders to create a business model that works?
Try and capture a hundred percent of the small market. I think it’s really difficult to do and it takes a huge amount of discipline, I’m probably going after too much even though I’ve reduced what I’m doing, I’m still probably trying to go off that slightly too much.
- Why do pre-seed founders make that mistake? It is one of the most common mistakes that pre-seed founders have a very vague proposition. Why do founders have that innate broadness and variety in their proposition?
Entrepreneurs, by nature, have a pretty high level of thinking and they get excited like big ideas. Being the type of person that wants to change the world or make a difference, you’re looking at everything from a much higher level so you can’t help but see how your idea can solve all these bigger problems. There are a rare breed of entrepreneurs like the Elon Musks of the world, and what makes them exceptional is the ability to jump between two scales of thinking. It’s very difficult, unless you get your fingers burned, to really understand how important working at the micro and the macro is other than that. Perfection needs a lot of small steps done with excellence, it is taking the big picture and breaking it down into the most crucial parts as pre-seed founder.
- Anything else to add?
One final passing comment that I would say to anybody in an early stage is don’t give up. Four years is a long time, but I really think that this idea is the one, it could be the winner! If you’ve got a small thing that people love, investors will throw money at it. You don’t need to come with a world changing solution, you just need to build something that people love.
And a note from James to finish: ‘That is right, and one thing I’d like to add on is that start-ups should look to win in phases. People tend to go for the Holy Grail from day one, it’s an iterative process building a business.
We thank Harry Molyneux of Buildupp for today’s interview. That is all from us at Sales for Startups today, be sure to tune in soon for more interviews with CEOs and Founders of some great companies that are shedding some light on the current issues we are facing. If you’d like to be interviewed please comment below or feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or submit a request on our website.