In this episode, Susan will be chatting with Paul McCarthy, CEO and founder of Snapfix – an innovative company that took on a quick pivot during the pandemic. Through his groundbreaking process, he was able to create solutions for hotels all over by providing systematic cleaning schedules. Tune in now to learn how this modern business adapted their strategy!
Topics covered in the interview
Snapfix and the problem it solves
Deciding on the features
Paul McCarthy’s Bio
Paul McCarthy is the founder and CEO of Snapfix.
Paul’s background is in software development (for over 25 years), and in parallel, he has always been involved in managing commercial and residential buildings as part of a family business. He is also a fan of simplicity. Paul brought this experience together and built Snapfix to solve his own problem.
Five years ago, Paul got really frustrated with all the inefficient communication in relation to managing buildings, projects and teams. There were post-it notes, phone calls, voicemails, text messages, WhatsApps, emails etc. flying all over the place, and it was impossible to manage and keep track of everything. He wanted a simple photo-based solution, as simple as WhatsApp, that had the flexibility to manage everything.
Paul looked to the market for that simple solution, but everything he found was either too complex, too forms based, too inflexible, too time consuming, or too expensive. He spoke with many companies and realized that there were many people like him. Paul set out to build Snapfix as ”the simplest” facilities and maintenance solution on the planet – with an obsessive focus on simplicity.
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Susan Sly 00:02
This is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, the show that brings the no nonsense truth of what is required to start, grow and scale your business. I am your host, Susan Sly.
Susan Sly 00:16
Well, what is up Raw and Real Entrepreneurs? Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are having an incredible, incredible day. And I want to give a shout out to, Isle of Man who is in our top 10 listening audience. And I've never been to the Isle of Man, but I would like to go. I've been to other parts of the world. But shout out to you if you're from the Isle of Man, thank you for listening. And of course, we still have our you know, crowd favorites of the UK and Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and of course, the USA rounding out in that top 10. But Isle of Man, shout out to you. Anyway, I want to share with you today an amazing, amazing founder, someone who is resilient, someone who is adaptable, and someone who is wise. And in my research on this individual, and you know that we reject 90% of applicants for the show, that this person was not only impressive, it wasn't just impressive by his 25 years of experience in software development, but it was impressive because of his humility and his tenacity. And in addition to all of his life experience, he has always been involved in managing commercial and residential buildings. We've had a lot of real estate developers on the show, as part of the family business. He is very experienced in terms of entrepreneurship and starting businesses and scaling businesses. And like many entrepreneurs you hear on the show, there was a problem that he wanted to fix. And five years ago, he got very frustrated with all of the inefficient communication in relation to managing buildings, projects, and teams. And Good Lord, if you've ever done a construction project, I think you can all relate to that. There were post it notes, we are, I am a fan of post it notes as an MIT grad, but there were post it notes, phone calls, voicemails, text messages, WhatsApp emails, oh my gosh, it's giving me a headache reading that flying over all over the place. And it was impossible to manage and keep track of everything. He wanted to create a simple photo based solution as simple as WhatsApp that had the flexibility to manage everything. And he looked into the market for that solution and didn't find anything that was simple enough, or, you know, straightforward that was usable. Everything seems so complex, too inflexible and too time consuming. So with that, he decided to build a company called Snapfix. And Snapfix is a very simple, modern, and I'm going to use the word elegant solution. And with an obsessive focus on that simplicity. So my guest today is Paul McCarthy. He's the founder and CEO of Snapfix. Paul, thank you for being on Raw and Real Entrepreneurship.
Paul McCarthy 03:13
Susan, that is hands down the best and most welcoming introduction I have ever, ever received. So I want to thank you for that. And I'm absolutely thrilled to bits to be here today.
Susan Sly 03:24
Well, you are as kind as you are wise, Paul. So I was, I was, I was creeping Snapfix and very enthralled with the company. And I know for our listeners, they might not have heard of Snapfix. So let's, let's start there. What is Snapfix and what you know, we talked about the problem that it's solving, but for people who perhaps are not in construction, if you could share, you know, what is the problem you're solving and how you're solving it?
Paul McCarthy 03:54
Sure thing, Susan. Well, in a nutshell, Snapfix is the simplest maintenance platform in the world. And it works extremely well in all buildings, all types of infrastructure and all types of equipment. The, many of the solutions today have been either paper based, or, as you mentioned very eloquently earlier, post it notes and WhatsApp and the like for very, very complex systems. And what I set out to build was the simplest solution using the power of the smartphone and the power of the camera. I heard recently a really great quote that the, that the camera is the new keyboard. And I think we're communicating so effectively now with photos. And we introduce the concept of red, yellow, green traffic lights for collaboration. Red means something needs to be done, yellow and progress, green is complete. So it's the combination of photos for communication, traffic lights for collaboration has created essentially this new language for multilingual teams to be able to work very, very efficiently together.
Susan Sly 04:58
And it's genius when you think about that, because from a UI, user interface, the the red, yellow, green, regardless of where one is in the world, even in my many times in Cambodia, red means stop. Yellow means go faster. And then a green, of course, go, and to have that kind of that ability of interpretation and make it so simple. So, you, you have this problem. Let's go back in time. You have this problem and you're thinking, Oh, if only there was. And a lot of people think, Oh, if only there was a solution for this, but they don't take action to actually go about solving it. So what were those first steps you took and saying, maybe I'm going to create this.
Paul McCarthy 05:47
So the first steps were, Susan, when I was living in that problem, besides the post it notes, and people tapping me on the shoulder, and the emails and everything else, the common denominator was WhatsApp. Everybody was using photos for communicating. And they were using messaging as well between each other. In the environment I was in which I was, I was sitting in the middle of tenants in a building and contractors, you know tenants reporting issues, contractors resolving them, and I was sitting in the middle of allocating work orders and work between them. I spent my life scrolling up and down through WhatsApp, and I wasn't sure what was new, what was in progress, what was done. And it wasn't until I was walking down the street one day, and I literally looked at a traffic light at the junction near my home and said that was kind of the eureka moment. I said, That's it. The traffic light is the universal symbol for teamwork. It is the, it doesn't get any simpler. And we took the traffic light, we turned it horizontally. And we said okay, if it's in red, it's something needs to be done, yellow, it's in progress, green completed. And I met I was obsessed to keep it that simple, if at all possible. And I said I was, by introducing it to a number of different sectors, facilities, management, construction companies, hotels and the like, and hotels really gravitated to us. They have a large audience and multilingual staff. They operate 24/7 And they demand the highest quality and, but they embrace it. I knew we were on to a, onto a good thing.
Susan Sly 07:18
How did you build the beta version?
Paul McCarthy 07:21
I kissed a lot of frogs, I met about 10 companies beforehand, and, and I was trying to explain to people what I was trying to do. And then I had the great fortune to be introduced to my now CTO and co founder, Cathal Greany. And when I was explaining to him what I wanted to build, which was a WhatsApp for getting things done or WhatsApp for test management, I basically started explaining it to him and he nearly put himself in my mouth and just went with it. And he said, I would love to be building this with you. And the rest is history. So I think finding, finding a co founder is so important in the very, very early days, so that you can trust implicitly and, and share the load. And Cathal is really, really good on the technology side. And I would be, I would be focusing on the more in the business and the Raising investment and the sales and marketing side. And it's just been a really, really a match made in heaven.
Susan Sly 08:19
So Kissing Frogs, and so for someone listening and thinking, I want to start a tech company, let's talk about what Kissing Frogs really means. How do you know, Paul, that, you know, whether it's an individual or a company is not the right one to build your initial piece of technology?
Paul McCarthy 08:44
Yeah, the last thing Cathal and I talked about was, was the cost of building the prototype. But everybody else the other nine of the 10 or 10 companies I met, they were looking at revenue for that month. And Cathal was looking out at the next 20, 25 years. And I was looking over the next 20, 25 years. So there was a great alignment of vision between the two of us. Everybody else was just so far, so far below that bar. When I met Cathal, it was just it was just a standard conversation.
Susan Sly 09:16
So that, it's that, that knowing that vision and to your point, a lot of the DevOps companies out there, they're like, oh, it's like anything, whether they're, it's just like we want to bring in money now. Let's start the project and we're talking, just to get a prototype, could be hundreds of 1000s of dollars even and, and you're starting behind the finish line before starting the race, so to speak. If you could go back in time with that initial prototype, knowing what you know now, is there something you would have changed?
Paul McCarthy 09:53
Yes, I initially designed the initial prototype and then slept on it, you know, for a day or two and I cut it in half. I said we don't need this, we don't need that, we don't need the other. I did a lot of research on how Steve Jobs and Jony Ive designed the iPod and the iPhone, and they had a relentless focus on eliminating everything that wasn't absolutely necessary. And I set myself down that path of every click counts, every keystroke counts, just every everything. I wanted to make an absolutely pure, minimalistic, universal, simplistic solution. And if I had it all over again, I would have cut it in half again. If so, what we do now is, we say no to most features. And then we really, really have to build a strong argument for any new feature to come into Snapfix. And one of the, one of the tasks that our product manager who's a wonderful product manager is tasked with doing is removing 10% ofSsnapfix every year. Just keep taking out the features that we may have put in then that are not being utilized, or being really, really poorly utilized. And then we don't carry forward any technical dash, or or we're not maintaining software that's not providing the most value to our customers.
Susan Sly 11:13
So what I'm hearing is each feature has to advocate for itself and has to be a strong advocate. And, and how do you, how do you research which features get to stay? Because there's this, you know, there's this concept in technology, where there are a lot of developers who fall in love with their product, but they're never hearing the voice of the customer. Conversely, there are the sales teams that hear the voice of the customer, but they're perhaps not conveying back to the product team, why that feature is important or why that needs to be put on the roadmap and perhaps ahead of other features. So how how, how did these features get advocated for? And do you have, do you weight them? I did that, you know, is there an Excel sheet for them? How do they?
Paul McCarthy 12:02
There's more than Excel sheet, it is the eternal debate within Snapfix. And the nice thing about some of the roles in Snapfix is we give people autonomy in their roles and people are feist, you know, really, really strongly for some features and put very, very passionate arguments, we'd like to be customer lead. That's the, that's the first thing we like to do. We roll Snapfix out to a large audience of customers. And they gave us feedback right away. And we were very, very open. And we embraced all feedback. And we wanted them to tell us, tell us what you don't like, tell us what you really like, tell us where we can be better. And we were always that open. We never, ever, ever are offended by any feedback. We embrace it all the time. So I think we've been very, very fortunate with our early adopter customers, they were very open to sharing that information with us. They had all tried complex systems, and they had already given up and gone back to WhatsApp and Excel, but they want to, they wanted something a little bit better than Excel. Excel is a wonderful tool for chat. It just wasn't built for purpose for test management. And then subsequent to that, always being open to customers, we just have to two golden rules. It has to be the simplest version possible. Nobody can design anything simpler. So we take plenty of time to make sure we design the simplest version. And it has to be universal. That's it.
Susan Sly 13:26
Simple and universal. So along the journey, have you or anyone on the team, not to throw anyone on the bus, but have you ever had perhaps a feature or an idea for Snapfix, and you thought this is it, this is going to be incredible and and it wasn't?
Paul McCarthy 13:44
Yeah, during, when open COVID hit, of course we have to pivot. We had originally focused on hotels, and then we went wide, to the wider Facilities Management markets. But at the same time, too, we decided to see where we can really really help our hotel customers with the problem of COVID which had to do with a lot of high intensity cleaning. So it was your cleaning handrails, doorknobs, light switches, all of this stuff periodically during the day, and you wanted to make cleaning very visible to your guests at the time. You wanted them to make sure that they felt safe in that environment. So cleaning became a theater, it became very, very public in many of our customers. So we designed what we call the Snap Board where they can publish the cleaning schedule on a TV screen. And, of course, you know COVID kind of ebbed and flowed quite quickly, but the need for us kind of went away quite, quite quickly. So we have the most of this completely in the product. It's still, the feature itself as a dashboard still value, is still valuable, but the purpose for being strictly COVID is no longer applicable.
Susan Sly 14:58
I love that you shared that because so many, so many founders who are still, have companies that are going. COVID was a cause for a pivot. And a pivot isn't necessarily a bad thing. It can be something that's very healthy, it tests your team, how agile are they. And to your point, just because a feature was created or a UI was created, it doesn't mean it can't be repurposed for something different. And even at Radius with our technology, we were using for COVID screening in hospitals, that same technology, we use that for our Viztel product for, you know, for doing retail analytics. So there are different, different use cases. AndI think that'st powerful. And I love that you mentioned Steve Jobs, because Steve always had features in the vault. And sometimes they release something, it wasn't right that time and then they would release it five years later on, it came down to timing. Do you think that where Snapfix is now, is luck, timing, work ethic? Or is it you know, something else?
Paul McCarthy 16:11
Work ethic definitely comes to the fore, because I guess I'm what I'm doing with Snapfix, or when I initiated Snapfix, I was bringing 25 years of property and real estate management experience and 25 years of computer software experience. So bringing a solution to life on that intersection, I think, I think has a lot of value. And there was a lot of experience. at that point in time. I joke with everybody that I had black hair before I started Snapfix and that having a relentless focus on simplicity is really hard. You have to say no, on my, on my office desk, I have a big sign that just says no. So we start with no. And, and that's a hard position to start with. And I guess one of the analogies I share is iMicrosoft Word. Now Microsoft is a wonderful, wonderful company and all the rest of us. But everybody pays for 100% of Microsoft Word uses 1% of us. Well, we only want to focus on the 1%. And most of our customers will use most of Snapfix at all times.
Susan Sly 17:15
That, well, and Microsoft, to your point, is a wonderful company. And some of their, some of their software is very much designed by developers. And I'm wondering about the voice of the customer. And that's why Google was able to make such inroads and was so smart because even my children, Paul, they Google Sheets, Google Docs, everything. And it was all cloud based. And so it, and people do want the simplicity. And the reason I asked you that, it's a bit of a leading question. So over the weekend, I was reading in the Wall Street Journal about motivation and drive when it comes to work by generation. So Gen Z or Gen Zed, I'm originally from Canada so I will say the Zed, the millennials, Gen X and which is where I am and I would guess you are as well and then boomers. And it, what it illustrated is that that drive, that work ethic that I guess that whole lasal that's left for, like creating work, that it's diminishing by generation. And that's why I asked you if it was about work ethic, or luck or timing, because to be an entrepreneur, it definitely requires a certain work ethic. And what are your thoughts on that?
Paul McCarthy 18:37
I would agree to get to a point, I think. I grew up on a farm and was one of 12 children on the farm. And so there's 14 of us in the house. And a farm is a business like any other business and runs 365 days a year. And there's a lot of teamwork. And there's a lot of responsibility and a very strong work ethic from day one. So, so I definitely have that foundation and brought into my life. But I do believe that necessity is the mother of invention. And I think the future generations will step up every single time. I'm very optimistic by nature. I do, I do see articles where people are saying that Oh, my grandfather, they work so hard. And my father they work that little less hard, me a little less hard and it's getting less. I'm not sure I bias completely. I think the kids will be, the new generation will also make more they'll think differently. And they'll be working in sectors and in technologies that our parents or grandparents couldn't even imagine. And they'll be in roles that didn't exist 20, 30 years ago. So I would, I'm all for the next generation. We're leaving them with a number of challenges with climate change and pollution and energy prices and everything like that. But I'm confident that, again, necessity is the mother of invention. And they will, they will invent solutions of the future.
Susan Sly 20:08
And they'll work smarter. Right? And the entrepreneurial burnout in our generation is so high. The divorce rate, the heart attacks, and that's why it's Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. And I'm a big fan of, and I think everyone should be listening to so many different shows and getting the inputs, not just this show. But Built to Sell is one of my favorites. And there was a, their interview where they're talking about, oh, it's almost common to have a divorce, just as you're selling your company. And it's just, that shouldn't be the case. And to your point, as a mother of Gen Zers myself that they do work smarter. And they do have a different sense of it. And it doesn't, the 80 hour work week, you know, I don't know if there's a four hour work week when you're building a business like Tim Ferriss said, but there's definitely you know, it doesn't have to be 80 hours. Let me ask you this, you have raised 5 million in your pre, $5 million in your pre Series A round, and how did you go about raising that money? Because everyone has different ways that they do it. And I'm so curious.
Paul McCarthy 21:19
Well we did this, Susan in three tranches. So we raised some essentially precede money in September 19. And we got the gang together, we pulled the team together and started upgrading the prototype, so that was ready for paying customers. And then a year later, we raised again, and we went down to angels at the same time. We were also supported by enterprise Ireland, which is, which is Ireland's entrepreneur backed fund. And they were, they were really, really, really good to bring on board very early, because they insisted on focus. They said, given our experience with investing in hundreds of business startups, we think, we think it's very, very important to focus. So on day one, they encouraged us, we were going to focus anyway, which was great to have an experienced team tell us, you really need to focus. And that's why we focus on hotels initially. Now, I got to tell you, six months later, when COVID hit and all the hotels shut down, I was at a big question mark and over my head for about 24 hours. But Well, it turns out focus is definitely the right thing to do at all times. And then we had the very, very good fortune to meet Paul and Rick from Cedar Grove from Florida, a year ago. And that's our third step in the investment road. And we're absolutely thrilled to bits to be involved with with such long term thinkers, very aligned thinkers. I think what's really, really important raising, investments, raising investment is also a marriage. Because when you're, when you're planning something for a long term, you want to make sure that that relationship is rock solid for the long term, and and we're very, very thankful to have chosen some amazingly experienced, shared vision and kind and considerate and supportive investors.
Susan Sly 23:21
Paul, I've not heard it compared it to a marriage. And so I find that I find that, that's interesting. And for someone who's listening who perhaps is, we have many people who are just on that cusp of beginning to raise money. Did you have any investors you said no to because they weren't people you would want to get married to? Or was it that, you know, you just really had the right group of people? Because I think so often, there's this concept when it comes to raising money. And at Radius we've done a few rounds as well, all friends and family where it has to be hard. And I have a, I have a Vanguard opinion that it doesn't because it comes down to relationships, but I definitely want to hear your take on this.
Paul McCarthy 24:09
You're absolutely right. It's down to relationships. Before meeting Paul and Rick from from Cedar Grove, I probably missed maybe 100 companies, most 99% of on Zoom Of course. And it just clicked with me best. And that's like I can't say any more. The decision was extremely quick on their side. I laid out my vision. They laid out what they were thinking for the long term. And I think the alignment of long term was absolutely key. We didn't want to try to any investor wants to cash out in two years time or four years time or anything like that. We're building, we're building a global multibillion dollar company here and that's going to take time because when you, when you look at the Googles or the Apples of the world, their increase in value came after, you know, 15 years, let's say. So we're thinking, we're thinking in those terms, we're thinking, when we talk to our customers and presents Netflix to them, we're not talking about software for this year or next year, we're talking, we're talking about software solutions for them for the years and decades to come.
Susan Sly 25:19
I love that. That's the long term vision. And the right founder, it's, to your point, this marriage the right founder is definitely it's, I have so many conversations, because we haven't done an A round yet. We've wrapped revenue, so we've not needed to. And so I have a lot of conversations a lot. And I, it's like speed dating of like 15 minutes, right? And you just know if there's some Synchronicity or if there's not. And Paul, if someone's listening, they'll say, Well, okay, he had all these conversations, you found these right investors, and can you talk about perhaps, and please, obviously, I know you wouldn't, because you're a gentleman and professional. You don't have to say who but could you give an example of perhaps a conversation that didn't go well when you were talking to some of these potential investors?
Paul McCarthy 26:15
I can't think of anyone that didn't particularly go well. Some of them, some of the VCs have certain criteria. They want five billion ARR or 2 million ARR. And so we were too early for them. And that was, and that was all fine. There was actually none that that's, because we were, everything, we were very open and transparent and honest. And we put everything on the table, The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly. So there was never any conflict. Or if we didn't match their criteria, we said thank you so much for meeting with us. Let's not have a 14 minute cold, let's give each other 30 minutes back now. And we will finish the call after 10 minutes. And it was just, it was just a very open and honest and sharing conversation. Conversations that we probably wouldn't have progressed would have been some interest in taking a controlling interest. So to invest in X amount now for controlling interest, or now's for acquisition conversation. So we just weren't, we weren't interested in those conversations. But they were quite open and honest exits to those conversations. And maybe we'll pick up some of those conversations down the road but they weren't for that point in time. We were very, very specific. We had a deck laid out as to the ideal partner we're looking for. And I guess when you talk to enough people, and you meet the right people, you know it pretty quickly.
Susan Sly 27:40
I want to pick up on that, Paul. You were very clear on the ideal people you were looking for. And that is, that is something that I want you to expand upon. Because for founders who are listening, oftentimes it's like, I just need money. And I've heard you know, I you know, you need money, a startup needs money, like, you know, people need oxygen or whatever the case is. And I've watched people go out and raise money and give away massive parts of their company just to get that early stage money, but you held firm. So what were those criteria that you were looking for specifically?
Paul McCarthy 28:23
I think one of the key ones Susan was the focus on the long term. So we wanted an investor and investors who were going to, going to be with us on this, on this long journey. There is no book, I said quite often, there is no book in the library for the jet for what we're trying to build here. No one's ever built the maintenance platform for the world. Elon Musk takes us all to Mars then it'll be, then it'll be the maintenance platform for Mars as well. But that's a little bit down the road. The, I think they the most important thing is the relationship. It's, I went, I went for a one hour meeting with Paul from Cedar Grove, and we left company four hours later. And I texted my wife to say, I'm not going to make the flight you know, I flown to London, he happened to be in London. And it was just we got on so well and we just kept talking about the infinite possibilities and the total addressable market of this solution. But I would always preface that with this is Mount Everest were climbing this is an unbelievably difficult challenge to get people to change their work habits to use a camera and a phone instead of paperwork for the most part or Excel or WhatsApp. So this is not going to be easy. And again, it's all around being honest and upfront about how difficult this is going to be. And then you just meet like minded people who would agree with you and share their insights and you're having just a wonderful conversation. And I really do believe that it is like a marriage, when you're in it for long haul, it is a marriage, it really is. And we're so fortunate that Paul and Rick are very, very supportive, I can call them up anytime and ask for a little bit of advice, or mentorship or anything. I've just, it's a really nice relationship. And we will be looking for another partner down the line, possibly somebody with, with distribution, it could be somebody with, you know, 50,000 buildings or 1000 buildings or whatever, who may invest in Snapfix, but also bring Snapfix into a large audience of properties. And we want to make sure that that's the right, the right partner as well. And it's worth putting the investment into the time to choose the right person, because if you get the wrong person, it just must be a disaster. And I've heard of many disasters and life is too short.
Susan Sly 30:57
You and I both? Yes, exactly. And I was writing, I was writing down the criteria, because I think it's so beautiful. And you mentioned again, a marriage, right.? And this focus on long term, the relationships. I love what you said that you were honest and upfront about the challenges, you're climbing a mountain. And it's you know, what I'm hearing in that is that the investors were very receptive to the fact that this wasn't just a, you know, a PE play where they were just going to come in and invest some money, resell the company or resell their stake in it, but it was just going to be that they celebrated the fact that you were honest about how tough it was going to be. And I think, I think that's huge. I was on a, I was in a meeting, I won't say with which company, but a massive, massive multinational hardware company. And one of their SVPs asked me a question. And he said in one sentence, what's your value proposition? And I said, candidly, I don't have an answer for that yet. It's something we're still working on in one sentence, because we can do so many things with our AI. And, and there was, Paul, there was silence. In this meeting there were about, I don't know, eight people in the meeting, just like suddenly you could hear a pin drop. And then he paused and he said, Wow, your honesty is refreshing because every other person I've asked that, every other founder I've asked that, they're always trying to sell me or come up with something perfect. And I said, I don't know if it's because I'm 50, or I've been an entrepreneur for decades. But I'm past the point of trying to be anything other than what we are. Right?
Paul McCarthy 32:45
And that's experience. And that's a wonderful story. And I think that's experience shining through to say, I don't know where everything. I have yet to meet somebody who can predict the future and we're all doing our very, very best. But I did hear one investor once say this. They look for a massive opportunity, an unsolved problem and a differentiated solution. And that was one of the investors that we did, we didn't progress with. But those three prosedur phrase just resonated with me so much, because I just went tick, tick, tick, snowflakes, ticks all of those we have a massive market, massive addressable market, and unsolved problem globally. And, and we have differentiated solutions. Nobody can build a simpler Maintenance Solution, but Snapfix. If they do Susan, I'll be gone, you'll never see me again.
Susan Sly 33:44
Well I hope that's not the case.
Paul McCarthy 33:48
If somebody comes out with the combination of photos with two traffic lights, I'm done. We're finished.
Susan Sly 33:55
Well, I'm thinking when you said the traffic lights, now of course I'm thinking about different places I've traveled in the world, whether it's Malawi or or going back to Cambodia, Phnom Penh, or wherever. And really, there might as well just be one traffic light because people just go like mad unless it's red. So maybe, I don't know. I don't know what to tell you to one traffic light analogy. I think that what you have created is genius. I want to ask you the, if you could go back in the last five years, the you know, before we started the show, we talked about a wall kicking moment where you were humbled, where you had to take a good hard look in the mirror, and so often with entrepreneurship, and we have 12 year olds who listen to the show. We have 80 year olds who listen to the show, so often it's easy to, you know, to look in, in the media and look at this, I guess, you know, the success stories. And there's a saying, Paul, and I'm sure you've heard it that, I first heard the, Natalie Cole, the daughter of Nat King Cole call, say, you only see the glory, you don't know the story. So looking back in the last five years, when you and I were discussing about when COVID hit, and the company was focused on hotels, and you, you know, people would look at you if they're not, if they're not able to see you they would know, you know, very, very elegant, put together gentleman who clearly knows what he's doing, who looks like, you know, he's in the midst of a chaos, and he's the one keeping it all together, the eye of the storm but that wasn't the case. Can you talk about that?
Paul McCarthy 35:56
Yeah, when COVID hit, we were seeing all the images coming in from these very unfortunate Italian towns and everything like that. And it was very, very obvious to me that this thing was not going to end well or end very, very soon. So I actually pulled all the team together. And right as I started talking about what I felt was going to happen, I got very, very upset in the meeting. And actually my CFO actually had to take over speaking for me, because I put my heart and soul so much into Snap fix. We had hired an amazing team, a very, very dedicated team. And we had bet the farm on hotels, which of course, March 15, 2020, everything was looking pretty bleak at that point in time. But thankfully, we navigated our way through us. But at that moment, I gave, I guess I was so upset that I did, I did, I did write down in front of the team. But we gave ourselves 24 hours to kind of, you know, dust ourselves off and say, Okay, hang on a second, the world is going to continue after this. It's not all over, we just need to trim down, stay lean, and offer more value to our customers. And we'll be just fine. But, but I think allowing yourself to feel that is totally okay. You know, it's when you're, when you're running through walls, and you're putting your heart and soul into it. And probably always from the airing of the 80 hour week rather than the four hour work week at that point in time. And then this guillotine comes down, and you're stopped in your tracks. You just, I guess we just needed 24 hours to pause, reflect, and then take it a different direction, which was speaking to all types of office buildings, apartment buildings, engineering companies, construction companies, which was great. It wasn't on our plan, we plan to stick with hotels for maybe another 12 months. It just accelerated our plans.
Susan Sly 35:56
Yeah. And thank you for sharing that story. There's a, going back to the the generational piece, one of the things that younger generations want is for their leaders to have vulnerability. I think they, it's a different expectation than perhaps when you know, you and I were coming up and what we expected our leaders to be like Margaret Thatcher.
Paul McCarthy 38:24
You have to have a facade. You're, it's everything, everything was quite open. We were very, you know, we're very open company. And we know that people have lives and families and they've got issues and COVID this and COVID still going on, you know. So we just, we just, when you're, when you're thinking long term, you don't get as upset anymore, but I don't go upset anymore when things go wrong. In fact, if I have a 10 point plan, well, one of the points will be something is going to go badly wrong. And then you expect it, you plan for it. And when that happens, you might know where it was gonna come from, but oh, yeah, there's point seven, something is gonna go horribly wrong.
Susan Sly 39:07
And that comes definitely from wisdom. And so a couple of final questions, rapid fire, if you're good for rapid fire. What books, resources should anyone who's you know, starting a business, growing a business, scaling a business?, what are some of the books and resources that have really helped you?
Paul McCarthy 39:29
I'm a big fan of Y Combinator and Paulgraham.com. He and Y Combinator have funded you know, over 2000 startups. So the wealth of knowledge that they have in relation to what works and the common problems of what doesn't work. So he starts off by saying build something that customers want. Choose your co founder unbelievably carefully. Again back to the marriage concept, and get it in front to get the minimum viable product in front of a customer very, very quickly and get their real feedback. That's, that would be his top three. In relation to, everything I've read things about sales, feeling amazing product, elegance about sales, and there's a great book, it's actually on my desk. It's called Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount. And it delivers a couple of very strange messages around sales is hard, expect it to be heard, you own your own pipeline. And if you don't prospect today, you won't have a pipeline in six, eight weeks time. By the way, it's really hard. So he keeps repeating some very, very, you know, a lot of whole truths, and there's no silver bullets. It's, it's you get to work through it every single day. And it's one customer at a time and one customer leads to two and two will lead to four and four will lead to eight, etc, etc, etc. And it's amazing how people just don't grind it out like that. And they expect customers to flow in because they've got this magical product. Well, it doesn't work like that.
Susan Sly 41:04
No, it doesn't? Oh, my gosh! Right? And one of the best things I heard in sales, probably 20 years ago was you have to have more leads than you have time. And a full diary leads to a full bank account. So when when my diary is full, and it's, it has you know, the list of potential customers, that is a good week. And when it's empty, it's no one to blame except myself and look in the mirror and say how do we do better? Right? And especially as we're growing out the team, and it's the same thing, it's finding, as you said, those right people, that right team and they know that it is going to be hard, but having fun with it. How can you shorten the journey, right? Just, one of the questions I always ask for Radius is how can we simplify the sales process? So if it's 10 steps, can we get it to six? If it's six, can we get it to three, and then and make it simple and elegant. Now I'm going to borrow the traffic light. So I like that one a lot.
Paul McCarthy 42:11
There you go. And one more resource that I'd like to share is The Founders Podcast. So this is a podcast where where this gentleman, he reads all of the autobiographies and biographies of famous founders, and you listen to their stories, and some of them are quite brutal, and, and difficult and challenging, and nearly going out of business and 10,000 prototypes and all the rest of this stuff. And it gives you a great sense of how challenging starting a business can be. And, but there's a huge number of lessons learned and an enormous number of lessons. And I think there's about 200 books profiled in that, in that podcast. And it's, it's my favorite podcast.
Susan Sly 42:56
Oh, that's fantastic. I will check that one out. Because I listen to podcasts every morning. Not my own.
Paul McCarthy 43:04
Susan, it saves you even the books, you know, you get the entire book summary in under an hour or so. And it's, it's a wonderful way to consume a book.
Susan Sly 43:12
Well, I do. Do you have Blinkist?
Paul McCarthy 43:16
Not yet, no, no, no.
Susan Sly 43:17
So I'm, I'm Twitter friends with one of the vice presidents at Blinkist. And he's going to be on the show. And I'm a massive fan of Blinkist. Because every book, 12 to 15 minutes, and then you get the key points. And then if you want to read the whole book, that you can do, but if you don't, then you know you've gotten the key part of it. So you can, you can do you know, five, six books a week. It's fantastic.
Paul McCarthy 43:41
Super. Yeah, I like that. Give me the short version all the time.
Susan Sly 43:45
I'm not sponsored by Blinkist. But I should be because I am a huge investor. Final question, Paul. You're, you've raised this money, you're at revenue, you've got customers. What's next? What's next for Snapfix? Other than saying no,
Paul McCarthy 44:02
We have, we have been focused on two core areas in the built environment. One is we're managing existing built buildings, for example. There are two other stages of the construction of a building. One is the construction part of us, and which has a lot to do with punch lists and things like that. And the other is managing the valuable assets or equipment within the building. So we have, we're rolling out next month a module to deal with the asset management side of us. And it's going to be the simplest Asset Management solution under plans. So you'll be able to create your list of assets by taking photos and building them up like that. And it's very, very intuitive. And we have designs on having the simplest punch list solution in the world as well. And just like you were mentioning about removing clicks, or from your sales process or steps from your sales process, we're designing Snapfix to be a one click solution. So every time something takes two or three clicks, we bring that down to one click, and we'll be bringing voice recognition into it and voice commands into it, and trying to make it as intuitive as possible. And using machine learning and AI, which, which of course, you're an expert in to, to make the experience more fluid and more beneficial to the customers.
Susan Sly 45:22
Well, Paul, I love that. And I'm going to be watching the company all in the coming years because I have, I've interviewed several founders who've taken their company to unicorn valuations. And I've interviewed founders who haven't and you definitely have that je ne sais quoi, as they say in French, the, that of someone who will. And so I wish you every success.
Paul McCarthy 45:49
Well, I have made the fatal mistake of falling in love with the problem. So, so I just have to solve it now globally, so.
Susan Sly 45:58
Well, I'm excited for you to do it. So, Paul, thank you so much for being here.
Paul McCarthy 46:04
Thank you, Susan. I really, really enjoyed this conversation. It was so enjoyable, and I look forward to doing it again in not too distant future,
Susan Sly 46:13
Because Ireland's in our top 10. I think I will have to come there.
Paul McCarthy 46:17
Fantastic! Your ratings in Ireland are just gonna skyrocket after after this podcast.
Susan Sly 46:22
Perfect. And we will, we'll have a, we'll have a fan meetup and you will decide where that will be. But I will, I will definitely be there. I will accept any invitation.
Paul McCarthy 46:35
Susan Sly 46:36
Well, thank you so much, Paul, for being here. And thank you to all of our listeners all over the world. It's with a grateful heart that I get to share these incredible interviews with all of you. And if you haven't done so already, please go wherever you listen to podcasts and leave us a five star review. Paul and I would love that, thank you very much. And if I do read your review on air as long as you email firstname.lastname@example.org, I will give you a $50 amazon gift card so there you go. So anyway, with that, thanks again, Paul for being here. God bless everyone. Go rock your day and I will see you in the next episode.