June 9, 2023

Episode 290: Lee Blaylock, Co-Founder & CEO of ConstructionBevy

Lee Blaylock is the co-founder of ConstructionBevy,  GolfBevy, and Annandale Capital.

Starting his career at Dell (badge #244) for 7 years mostly in R&D, Lee was their 2nd ex-pat and worked two years in London and Frankfurt. He then went to Oracle, where he left as a consulting group Practice Director.

The first company he started, ServiceLane, was venture backed and sold to NYSE:OC. He is the co-founder and former Managing Director of Annandale Capital, a Financial Times 300 Registered Investment Advisor managing $1.2b in institutional and private client assets.  

He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, was named by D Magazine as a Top 20 Entrepreneur, has been the volunteer Dallas Chapter Director for StartUp Grind since 2012 and serves on several civic boards, mostly focused on helping entrepreneurs.  

Julian:Hey everyone. Thank you so much for joining the Behind Company Lines podcast.Today we have Lee Blaylock, co-founder and CEO of ConstructionBevy.ConstructionBevy is a FinTech enabled marketplace for the commercialconstruction industry. Lee, I'm so excited to chat with you and, and as we weretalking about before the show, not only your wealth of knowledge as anentrepreneur building companies, but also.

This interestingaspect I think that we're all kind of as consumers, not necessarily aware of,but, but we're impacted by it, which is this ecosystem of commercialconstruction development and really curious on, I think we've seen a lot ofthese pieces being a little bit, segmented and, and, and gonna be exciting tosee how Construction Bay is kind of bringing those pieces together.

But before we getinto the company, what were you doing before you started ConstructionBevy?  

Lee:So this is my fourth startup. I have what I call the defective gene of anentrepreneur. The great thing about being entrepreneur is you stop workingfull-time for somebody else. You start working half days for yourself.

The only questionis, which 12 hours a day, seven days a week, do you wanna work? So, my firstcompany was company called Service Lane, was funded by Austin Ventures, SiliconValley Bank. Fremont Ventures was in late nineties. I sold that to OwensCorning. I started investment management business called Anne Dale Capital.

I'm super proud ofthat. It's a financial times 300 firm. We manage over a little over a billionand a half in assets. It's my idea to start, I was a second largestshareholder. I did that for seven years. And then I, the predecessor business,this was called Nice Leads and we're actually rolling nicely into this.

And it's kind likea, think about it as a tender meets LinkedIn where you actually identify thecompanies that you want to meet. And who you want to network with in terms ofthe types of people. Yeah. And it's a matching service where if my contacts canhelp you in business, your contacts can help me. We both passed this networkingprivacy filter.

Then there's a highdegree of likely that we wanna meet. And through that journey, that's how wecame up with ConstructionBevy.  

Julian:And so fascinating. Thinking about, obviously kind of the, the acquisitionprocess, but also y your, your time and investment in building that portfolio.What are some things that you, you were seeing.

Even through yourexperience and, and how companies who wanted to achieve their goals and,achieve success, what are some of the foundational things that they need tooperate with or, or strategically have in place before, going and starting toscale their companies?  

Lee:There's a lot to unpack there. So, I think I subscribe to the theory that everygreat entrepreneur has to know something that few other people know, and ifthey have insights, That are ahead of the market, but they're not too farahead. Cuz if you're too far ahead, you're wrong. Yeah. But if they've gotinsights and their insights represent a large market.

Then they can findgreat opportunity. And oftentimes an entrepreneur has to be comfortable beingmisunderstood potentially for a long time before things materialize. Now, ifyou go into banking or you know your doctor or something that, that's entirelydifferent. But if you're a maker, if you're an entrepreneur that's buildingsoftware, kind of building the future of what could be those principles adhere.

The other one isthat you've gotta find a real problem. Don't just do something because youthink it's cool. Go find something that is a real problem because you don'twant to be a problem looking for a solution. Yeah, a solution looking for aproblem. You want a problem? Go. Okay, here's something that people will payfor.

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. And, and when, obviously I think, what defines a lot of that ismaybe going through a lot of customer interviews, going through a lot of trialand error, but what do you view leaned on when you've kind of startedcompanies, even when you were starting, ConstructionBevy from a initial idea,what kind of, kind of conceived your first initial idea and, and how did youiterate on that and, and get to where you were today?

What are the stepsyou took to get there?  

Lee:So the first part of your question is interesting because there are some peoplethat want. Are there some, there's one viewpoint that says you have to be anauthentic entrepreneur. You have to know that problem. You have to understandeverything. And others are, you know what?

You don't wanna beshackled by the way the world works. Yeah. So if you look at track line atUber, if you look at Brian Chesney and the guys at Airbnb, they didn't comefrom those industries and they came in and they disrupt them. And so oftentimesit's really about the grit of the entrepreneur and do they have the mentalfortitude to go through, the, the very difficult days that, that are inevitablygonna happen.

And do they havepassion for what they're doing? Because if they don't have passion for whatthey're doing they're gonna get kicked outta the arena pretty quickly.  

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. And in terms of, when, when you kind of started to build the ideaand, and, and go and find product market fit, you said kind of started as oneidea shifted into what construction by is in today. What were some of thesignals you were looking for to, move the product in, in the direction?

One founder told methat product market fit is just a time, it's a, it's a moment in time. Whichkind of conceptualized the idea that it continues to ship.

Lee:I'm not agreeing at all.  

Julian:No, no. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. I would love to hear your response to that.  

Lee:So, if your product doesn't continually fit the market, you're, you're notgonna succeed.

Right? Yeah. Andthat's the way I would, and, maybe some nuances that I'm not not picking up,but the essence of it is, is that We had a business networking application. Wewent, talked to a very large manufacturer. They liked it a lot. And through thecourse of conversation, we were listening to them about some of the challengesthat they had around basically aligning in, in the commercial constructionworld manufacturers generally sell to subcontractors and those subcontractors,they're working with general contractors in the bidding process to win aproject from an owner or developer.

And there are gonnabe multiple general contractors that are trying to win that deal. In manycases, not all, but in many cases. And so if you are pricing a subcontractorthat's working with a general contractor that loses the deal. It doesn't matterwhat your relationship is, you have no ability to put materials on the ground.

And so the originalconcept was to basically build a contractor tool that gave kind of statisticalprobability of this owner who's who are the most likely general contractors andwho are the most likely subcontractors to do that. And in a commercial pro, wedon't do any single family residential in a commercial project.

They're anywherebetween kind of 30 to over a hundred trades. Generally speaking in the 45 to 60trades. That would be on site, building a building that's, seven stories tall,all. And so as we were speaking with these manufacturers, we also went to thissu, to the general contractors and said, Hey, what do you think about this?

And if you're atraveling general contractor, Going and hooking your spurs into a retailer andthey take you to a market you've never been to or it's been four or five years,and the market dynamics have shifted. It's a bayonet business for them to figureout who are the subs that we have to work with.

And then once theydo find that sub the most difficult problem they have is what's calledpre-qualification. And if I'm a general and you're a sub and I like your bid,cuz it's a lowest or the right bid, I don't just give you the contract, I takeyou through an underwriting process. Yeah. Do you have to write insurance?

Right. Financials,right. Safety, right. Legal, right. Capacity. And after you go through thatprocess, I may or may not only give you a contract, but I may or may not giveyou a size of a contract that you're interested in cuz it's, it's a, it'sbasically an underwriting process. Yeah. And without going in the details, thatindustry, that part of the industry is really broken.

Yeah. And so it'slistening to cu if you don't come from the industry, it's listening tocustomers and then applying your lessons from other industries Yeah. That youbring in. And in this particular case, we are the only PLG company in thesector, meaning a product led growth company. So if you think about an Oracleor an sap, you, you've gotta go or, or even a Salesforce to most degrees.

You've gotta go doa demo, pay them before you start using the application. If you think aboutDropbox, you think about Slack, you think it's about some of the more moderntools. LinkedIn's another one. You don't have to go pay LinkedIn and startusing it. You do if you're on monster.com, but you don't have to if you're onLinkedIn.

And so a productled growth organization allows you to have your customers teach you and. Theyteach you what they do, and then you take that through machine learning and ai,and then you sell that information back to them or to others. That's a reallypowerful way to grow a business much more rapidly because you're not dependentupon hiring a bunch of salespeople and going out and doing those things.

So listening tocustomers or what their problem is, and then applying other lessons from otherbusinesses is what we're doing here at ConstructionBevy.  

Julian:Yeah, it's so fascinating thinking about like that relationship with thecustomer as you're building also, and, and what are some of the things, thatyou have to say, not listen to and, and is it because not enough customers aregiving you the right signal to say, build out a feature request or certain,particular, how do you identify, what you need to invest more resources time oreven more technical feature sets into  

Lee:That's a good question. So, great entrepreneurs, like great investors, theylook for pattern recognition. Pattern recognition can come in a variety ofdifferent ways. Obviously speaking with a lot of customers or just, somethingthat's like, okay, we obviously need to have this right. And at the end of theday, when you are an early stage business or your late stage business, you haveyour large customers or paying you, 6, 7, 8 figures, tons sometimes, and youhave your smaller customers and you don't want one or the other to.

Unduly sway yourproduct direction. You should have a really clear direction on where yourproduct's going, but you should be very flexible in listening to how yourcustomers and how you get there. And don't just do what your large customerswant and don't do just what your small customers want. And the art ofentrepreneurship is trying to figure out the balance between, Hey, we gotta gotake care of these big accounts, but we also have these other things that arebeing requested by our customers.

But at the end ofthe day, customers don't really understand what features are possible. Theyunderstand their business problem. They wake up in the morning, they don'tthink about your business. They think about their business and think about whatare my problems? And so there's a classic example of in the horse and buggy,right?

If I came to youand say, Hey, how can we make this horse and buggy faster? Well, you maybe thedifferent species of the horse, or maybe you make the wheels different, ormaybe you lighten the load of, of the buggy. They wouldn't come up with theinternal combustion engine. And so what they understood is they need to getfrom point A to point B as fast and safe as possible.

And so as anentrepreneur you have to balance that. Okay, I wanna listen to them, but I alsowant to help them understand what the future self could look like.  

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's identifying the overall objective or value or, orincentive that someone is, is kind of moving towards, right? If, if you are a,if you make wine, you, you want to have, the best ingredients, you want to haveall this, the, the what's needed, ingredients and ecosystem to be able toaccomplish, a strong product.

And if anything'shelping that it's gotta be towards that objective. Otherwise, then it's justsuperfluous, right? Then it doesn't really gain a lot of traction. To, to, inan, in an adoption as well. And just thinking about that piece as well, likethe adoption component, how did you, when you built the product out, you had afew customers on it.

What kind of gotyou to the level of, of being able to broadcast it and get it kind of morewidely used? Were you finding new customers to reach out to? Were you improvingthe product and just doubling down on your initial profile of, of, ofcustomers. What in particular kind of helped you and, and kind of what did youstrategically do to grow your product?

Lee:Let me address it, but let me touch on something you were talking aboutearlier. Like with wine, right? And not be, I mean, I collect wine, but it'snot about that. The first thing I was thinking about is if you are buildingsomething you have to understand your audience and you have to deliversomething that's consistent.

If you're awinemaker or if you're a restaurateur, or if you're in many other businesses.And you're like this one day and you're like this another day, well, you're notgonna find your audience, right if you're this price, this one day and thisprice another day. And so you really need to understand what your audience is,what their motivations are, what their pain points are.

Another dynamicthat I look at is, are you a selling a vitamin or are you selling a painkiller?And you can make money doing both. I mean to you and me, Facebook is a vitamin.We don't have to have it, everything else. But if I'm. A advertiser and I wannafind a left-handed purple yak milker, Google and, and Facebook are the easiestways to go segment that and so that they're a painkiller for advertisers.

So that dynamic ofreally understanding your customer, understanding what they need, andconsistently delivering that is really important. The second part of yourquestion is more about how do we kind of go to market? How do we come up withthe idea? What, what can help me understand that again?  

Julian:Yeah, once you kind of, you, you kind of proved out the concept, what's yourstrategy from there?

Are you going outand broadcasting your, are you doubling down on marketing? Are you expandingyour customers on who you can? Can service one particular, once you reachedthat stage where you, you had some traction, some success yeah. Expand yourproduct line.  

Lee:Yeah. So lemme touch on something I said earlier and then I'll, I'll build onthat.

So, If you look atthe largest businesses that got the fastest out there today, you think about aDropbox, you think about Uber, you think about Airbnb, you think about LinkedInand others. What they did is that they had their customers teach them, and thenthey took that through machine learning, and then they sold that informationback to them or to others.

And that's the waythat you scale up really fast businesses these days because it's just too hardto go hire all the sales reps and do everything that's happened to happen. Soyou have to have a really clever strategy. And if you think about marketplacessuch as Uber, Airbnb Etsy, eBay YouTube is actually a marketplace.

None of thosebusinesses had a dynamic where one side say the supplier of the demand couldcompel the other side to join the network. This didn't have it. Now it's calledthe cold star property, the chicken and the egg. And those companies obviouslynot only. Solved it. They solved it in space and that's why we talking aboutit.

But the majority ofthe marketplaces that are out there that fail, they fail to get what's calledliquidity in the marketplace. Yeah. Where you get a good, solid balance of bothpeople posting and people asking. Craigslist is another great example. Okay.Yeah. So what's really attracted me to what we built here is that we call oncommercial general contractors with a freemium product.

I e They don't haveto pay for it if they don't want to. Yeah. They just use the base product andthey can use that add in to an item, and then they compel their subcontractorsto get on it because they have to go qualify these subcontractors. And if thecontractor doesn't either want to bid in certain cases or they don't want toactually get the contract, then they can, they have to be on this, thisplatform.

And so we have nowthe, let's call it the demand side, basically gets the supply side and thesupply side has to play ball. And there are a few other examples. We can gointo Ariba and others that do that, but this is very, very attractive becausewhen we sign up a general contractor based on the size of the generalcontractor, the viral coefficient can be in the thousands.

Yeah. And so whenyou sign up, say Instagram or Facebook, you might invite, a couple of yourfriends or 10 of your friends, or scores of your friends, but you're notinviting thousands and thousands. Right? Yeah. If you're a large generalcontractor and you're on this platform, you're inviting thousands ofsubcontractors.

And we get toacquire those contract, those, those contractors for free.  

Julian:That's incredible. And in, in, in terms of like, how do you continue that?Like, it, it's such, it's such a, it's, it's a very, it's a very interestingmodel cause you almost automated that you supply side in terms of bringingthose people in.

And then how do youkind of exchange that service on the platform and, and, and kind of lead totransacting?  

Lee:So when a Viral coefficient is a really, really important thing to understand.Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. For every user that joins a platform, how many people do theyinvite? How quickly do they do that, and how quickly do those people convert?

And what smartbusinesses do is they find multiple viral hooks and viral loops in theirapplication so that each entity that joins, accelerates the growth of thebusiness. Right. And we spend a lot of time. On onboarding, on UX flows, onunderstanding how can we simplify the process so that when we get a customer tocome on board, they're inviting many other people, not just a GC inviting a lotof subs.

Like every employeeof that general contractor. Yeah. Every employee of the, say the CPA firm orthe insurance firm, or others that are part of this ecosystem. So those arereally important dynamics that we try to try to put in place. And then you supplementthat with additional information. We believe long term search engineoptimization will probably be our most fruitful environment.

Cuz when you'relooking for, once again, a left-handed purple yag milker and you go typing thatinto into Google, we want ConstructionBevy to show up because that's whatyou're looking for and we want that to do. So think about how good Wikipediais. Wikipedias done a phenomenal job and they're, we can go on with othercompanies.

They've done agreat job in seo. And so a combination and there's no one silver bullet. Acombination of direct sales, product led growth, viral coefficients, and theneverything from content farms to the ability to have, distribution partnershipswith various companies that are in your sector.

Those are allthings that you really need to lever. Yeah. If you're gonna grow the businessand grow rapidly,  

Julian:And you, and when you say content farm, is that just like building assets as akind of a thought leader in the space?  

Lee:Yeah. So, one of the companies that I've always admired the most in, in, when Istarted Adel Capital, I was doing a lot of research and there's a company outthere called Seeking Alpha.

And Seeking Alphais a platform for portfolio managers to publish, self-publish through a, aquasi editorial process, but pretty much self-publish. Articles that theybelieve, are important for you to understand this particular trend in finance,or this particular stock, or this particular sector, this particular, financialproduct.

Yeah. And it's veryclear that they are a portfolio manager for XYZ firm, but it gives them theability to have a voice. And so kind of thinking it's like a medium or a sub,but it's only for financial interest. And so those kind of things have alwaysinterested me because most people are a lot more interested in their careerthan they are, what their business is.

Yeah. And if youcan help them amplify what they're doing you're gonna find an audience thatwants to participate and generate content that could be interesting to yourclients.  

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. It's for, I, I love kind of how you strategically kind of hackcertain ways and, and not only growth, but understanding your product and, andyour customer base and.

Also just to gainsome context for the audience sake, what's been exciting about, the attractionyou've cleaned up to this point and what are particularly excited about interms of the next milestones of ConstructionBevy and, and what you're lookingforward to?  

Lee:So we're really early inning, so we formed the legal entity on June 1st, 2021.

We've had workingcode now for a year, but we've been really in stealth mode. We haven't doneanything other than one trade show. Because we know we have 15 generalcontractors, subcontractors, and insurance executives as investors, and we haveroughly a dozen owners as investors, including one I'm really proud of EmilyDreyer, who runs Global Real Estate for Dell Computer.

And we know that ifwe make those folks happy, then we're going to find other customers that see,see us to be very attractive. And yes, we're calling on other companies. Weabsolutely are doing that right now. But at the, at the end of the day, we knowthat by making those customers happy and getting product market fit, cuz theonly thing my team is working on right now is product market fit.

And product marketfit is a little bit like that definition of porn. You know it when you see it.Yeah. Yeah. People say it's, growing 7% of your customer base a week on a consistentbasis over a 52 week period. And so the faster you grow, the more engaged yourcustomers are. Then obviously the, and, and obviously the lack of churn, andthen obviously converting to paid accounts, those are really key.

Yeah. So our focusright now is on making our, we call 'em inside the tent, our inside the tentcustomers, investors really happy, and then selectively spending time onoutside pursuits where we get introductions are some kind of advantage. Andthen we're starting the email marketing blast too, because now our product'sready.

It's been, battletested, it works, it works really well. And we're just out there increasing thefeatures and really focusing on the analytics because if you are giving yourproduct away and you don't have the framework and the analytics on this, thenwhat happens is you're going to basically be giving away a product.

LED growth isreally a data led business. And that's really, really important that you've gotthe data and you've got the framework and you've got the data Yeah. Warehouse,and you got the data architecture to really understand the behavior ofcustomers so you can make good decisions.

Julian:Yeah. So, so well said.

And, and if youthink about it, whether it's external or internal, what are some of the biggestrisks that you think the company fixes today?

Lee: Ithink in this environment financing risk is always something, but if anentrepreneur think that financing risk is an issue, then they didn't understandit.

Right. I've beenaround a while. I've seen oh one, I've seen oh eight. This is the worstinvestment environment since oh eight. And it's not even close. And thedifficulty here is that the feds out of bullets. Back in oh eight, interestrates were a lot higher. That fed could lower 'em.

Well, the Fed keptthem down too low, too long, too free money. There was an article in the WallStreet Journal literally in the last two or three days that there's 1.5trillion. Of commercial mortgages that are coming due in the next 36 months.And the estimates are that more than a third of those owners are gonna begiving the keys back to the banks and to the lenders because they have noequity in the building.

Wow. And so, we're,we're gonna be in for a hard slog. Who knows how long it's gonna last, etcetera. If you're in semiconductors and you're in, other technologies that aregrowth industries, you might be a little insulated. But if you are not, yeah.And you're in more traditional businesses it's gonna suck over the next coupleof quarters and maybe next couple years.

Yeah. And so thoseare the kinds of things that we really think through. And how can we beselling, once again, a painkiller as opposed to a vitamin.  

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. And if everything goes well, what's the vision for thecompany?  

Lee:We believe this is a publicly traded business the end of the day. When you lookat the market size, we've got, you look at.

The team that wehave, the board that we have and the, the product execution, the businessmodel. We believe that this company is a publicly traded business. And I'm theentrepreneur that says, Hey if there's one drop in the vial, the glass is halfhalf full. Right? I mean, I get that and I understand the statistical anomalythat it takes just to get to an exit, much less to a public exit.

Yeah. But I start,my badge number was 244 at Dell Computer. When I started, it's about 58 millionwhen I left, there were four and a half billion. So I understand kind of whatthat looks and what that feels like. Yeah. And we like our chances.  

Julian:Yeah. I love this next section. I call it my founder faq.

So I'm gonna hityou with some rapid fire question and we'll see what we get. So I love it. Fir,first thing I'd like to ask to open it up is what's particularly hard aboutyour job day to day?  

Lee:That's a good question. For me, I'm an idea factory. And so the great idea, thegreat thing about working with me is like I got really good ideas.

The bad thing is Igot a lot of really good ideas, right? Yeah. Yeah. It is prioritization. And Itell you, I struggle with that for a long time and I still to this day is howdo we take the ideas that we have and how do we prioritize them and how do wefocus the organization? Yeah. And one of the benefits of working with me isoftentimes, the, the negative working with me, and that's the case here.

Is that I need tobe more measured in terms of when I bring up ideas to the team, and I've triedto mature how I do that over time.  

Julian:Yeah. Thinking about your experience and, and you mentioned it a second ago,what has to go well for companies to lead to that exit? What, what are some ofthe, the things that, you can focus on?

Lee:Yeah. The first thing that reminds me of is, I've got three kids and I rememberthe doctor talking about the first kid. If, if you had. Any idea of all of thethings that had to go right to have a healthy child, you'd never have one. Samething. Love. You had any idea what it would take to be successful in business?

Very few peoplewould have to do it. Yeah. And I mentioned earlier it really comes down to gritand timing and other things is, yeah. I, for the last 10 years, I volunteeredfor an organization called Startup Grind. Yeah. Its mission to educate, inspire,and connect entrepreneurs. Dallas was like the fifth or sixth chapter, and wehave now 600 chapters in 130 countries.

And so I interviewentrepreneurs on a monthly basis and really try to understand what's going onthere. And at the end of the day, it's called Startup Grind, not Startup Joy.Yeah. Because it can be a real grind at times and you have to have that passionbecause that passion's what's gonna keep you going through the hard times.

Julian:Yeah. Thinking about, I guess commercial industry overall, I know you mentionedsome things with with where you know a lot of that's going. How do you see itchanging consumers and consumerism, being that some of the commercialbusinesses that, that we're occupying spaces we're serving customers are eitherbeat out because of, the cost of, of being open or, businesses moving towardsmore of e-commerce play.

What do you seekind of consumerism changes as as this you, you see a lot of these commercialbusinesses handing the keys back.  

Lee: Ithink there's an acceleration of the consumerization of it. Mm-hmm. We have formany years, since 2007 technically, but that's when the smartphone's announced.

But that 2000eight's really when the app store came around, most people now are prettyfamiliar with how high quality, high UX value consumer applications work, andwe're bringing that to the commercial market. Yeah. The commercial constructionindustry, by some estimates, is the second slowest adopter of technology behindonly K through 12 education.

But all projectshave wifi now. Yeah. Everybody's on a pad. They've got a computer. There'snothing structural behind anything that says, Hey, this is not the time forsomething like this. But it is interesting that we do not have in 2023 abasically a LinkedIn for the commercial construction industry.

And some companiesthat we, people say they do that, but it's behind a private database. Like it'snot a LinkedIn, it's not a public open database. And so at the end of the day,I think that's a, a key component that we are taking what we expect from theease and from the intuitive nature of high quality consumer products.

Yeah. And we'reexpecting those now in enterprise class products.  

Julian:Yeah. Thinking about building technology and adopting it into older industries,what are some companies that you kind of look upon or, or build, kind of in,in, in, or inspire you in, in how you can utilize the way it's impacted itsindustry into construction, commercial industry in particular?

Any, any, anyinspirations behind how you're building it?

Lee:Yeah, so there's a lot don't want to give too much of the secret sauce, but Iam enamored by Google. Yeah. I think that Google is one of the few businessesthat does not have, everybody's talking about chat api chat, G P T, but it doesnot have a existential threat to their business model that's clear and present.

They don't have asingle competitor that can kick them out. Yeah. And their execution and theirculture of. Really moving the needle in terms of what's possible and takingbig, bold risks. And they can do that because AdWords is such a phenomenallyprofitable product. Yeah. They can do these moonshots.

And so the Googlemodel, not only in their business model, but how they run their business, howthey operate their business several of our employees and investors are fromGoogle as well. So we've got, I, I never spent time there, but I've studied ita lot. I've, I've been, I've spent a lot of time on the Google campus.

That would beprobably number one. Yeah. And so any business that is a PLG business, aproduct led growth business is where I'm gonna get inspiration from. Yeah. Anybusiness that is highly focused on the user experience and delivering reallygood value is something that I learned from. And things that come to mind,Figma, I think is a, is a phenomenal tool.

I think Slack is aphenomenal tool. I think Stripe is a phenomenal tool, and so we look at variouselements of those, whether it be their user, their team management, or theiruser onboarding, or their it's another one their, their paywall. Yeah. Anotherreally good product is TurboTax.

TurboTax is takingyou through a process that nobody likes to go through, but they do it in awizard way, and they've spent a lot of money doing what they're doing. But theydo a very good job. And so I take inspiration from anything that delights theuser.  

Julian:Yeah, it's, it's also interesting too, TurboTax developers are famously like,like they're safeguarded and not, there's not a lot of TurboTax developers outthere that because they've created such a uniquely specific product.

But I agree, Ilove. The inspirations you drive from kind of thinking about, adding value indifferent ways, creative models and things about capturing a brand or aconsistent message, things like that are always really cool and inspiring. Ialways like to ask that. Just do that part.

Lee:Yeah, please. To that part real quick. So, TurboTax and believe it or not, waysmm-hmm. They have over 10,000 plus, like a lot more than 10,000 justvolunteers. Yeah. So a lot of Turbo taxes, customer support is, Volunteers wholiterally will go into the tax code because that's what makes them happy andthey will answer.

And Scott Cook andothers at, at at Intuit, they've brought in some of their volunteers. One of'em has actually over the years, has answered over a million questions. Wow. Intax. Yeah. And don't get paid for it. It's just, they just enjoy it. Or I'm amap geek and I want to help raise with map.

Yeah. And so everybusiness can find their center, they can find their tree north and they canfind their, I call 'em early evangelists. They're early, early, not only evangelists,but they're early as well. So go find your early evangelists and help them anden enable them to help you grow your business.

Julian:Yeah. If you wanna weren't working on construction battery, what would you bedoing? Pardon me if you weren't working on that?  

Lee:Yeah. Yeah. Well, obviously I like golf, but if I if I had my druthers, I, Iwant, I grew up wanting to be a Formula One race driver. Yeah. And I didn't do,do Bud about it, so I, it's just like, that kind of sounds good.

And another thingis I really was be interested for a long time being an Egyptologist. Justfascinating what what was going on there in the math associated with, buildingthose buildings. Yeah. But I, I'm that defective entrepreneur, so. If I wasn'tdoing this, I would be doing something else.

Because whatmotivates me is being able to pick the team I work with. Because I know that ifI pick a fabulous team and we execute, hey, we're gonna go change the world.And if I still pick a fabulous team, we don't execute very well. At least I'menjoying the people I work with and I'm not eating, crap sandwiches, walk intothe office every day.

Cause I want to go,basically, I wanna get a speeding ticket, come to the office cuz I wanna workwith the people I'm working with.  

Julian:Yeah. I love that. I love that. And, and something to kind of give to theaudience if you can share any book or per individual who, whether it's early inyour career or now have, have impacted you or left a lasting lesson that'shelped you even today, anything you'd like to share?

Lee:There's actually, I have a blog post on Medium and it talks about like the 15books that shaped my life. The first one, Waddy Piper, the engine little enginethat could, right? Yeah. Love that book from growing up. A phenomenal bookabout, this engine. I think I can, I think I, I thought I could.

I thought I could.As I tell my kids, I said, if you believe you can or believe you can't, thenyou are right. Yeah. And so it's a bad attitude. So that was the first one.Another one early on was who Moved My Cheese. You can read the whole m thing inan hour, but it's. You got skat and scurry and hy and haw, and it's really alife's lesson about, Hey, your cheese got moved.

Are you gonna be,scurry around? Are you just gonna hymn haw and let the world do something? Sothose two things are, are really key. Clayton Christensen's. How would youmeasure your life? What more important question do you have there? ClaytonChristian also has a book called The Innovators Dilemma of Why Do GreatCompanies Fail.

For me, that was areally seminal book. I've got over 420 books on golf course architecture. So inmy spare time, I like to read about that. I've got 403 book, 403 golf balls inthe order that played them in 16 countries. So, obviously that's my hobby. Butin terms of business books, some of those are the key things.

Obviously theBible's really important to me as well, but if somebody wants to look up justkind of lead blaylock medium books you probably find it. And it gives a littlevignette on each one. And why Another one most recently it's pretty dense isRay Dalio's principles. Yeah, I think Ray Daley, founder Bridgewater, he's,he's obviously done phenomenal things and, and one thing that I really admire mostlyabout the tech industry, but Ray as well, is that the tech industry will giveyou all kinds of content about how they did it.

And they don'treally hold back anything. Yeah, they don't in a lot trees. You don't sealpeople in the oil industry or in the XYZ industry really giving you literallythe recipes to how go increase your user engagement or increase this orincrease that. And I really admire Ray Dalio for what he's done now.

He at Bridgewater,they have a really unique culture where they video every single meeting and redtape every meeting. And so there's transparency that throws away about 30% oftheir new hires every year cuz it's just too transparent, but it obviouslyworks for him. He's running the largest hedge fund.

The world last I heardis over $150 billion. And, and the reason it is, is cause his returns arephenomenal. So those kind and is a really good book on principles. That's,that's another one I read a couple years ago that yeah, that I, I'd recommendif that moves your needle.  

Julian:Yeah. I, I love I love, I love the anecdote about principles in particular too,because.

I feel that same,same reason I, I an early founder when, when I was, when I was kind of talkingabout a product there were, I was worried about like, discussing it with otherfounders. It's like, is anybody gonna steal a product? But it's like the same reasonwhy nobody steals a product. Why, why, why?

I think a lot oftech information just given away the playbook, just because it's hard toexecute and it's hard to actually implement the lessons and build a beautifulproduct that actually delivers value to customers. I mean, if it was easy, theneverybody would be doing it. Right.  

Lee:You're, you're a hundred percent right.

Like when I startedwith Dell Computer, there were 400 companies making computers. Yeah. Like justclone computers. Right. We, we just out executed every single one of 'em. Yeah.Right. Yeah. And with a, with startup Grind, when I've got these talks that Ido, comes like a fireside chat.

Frequentlyentrepreneurs come up and they want advice and all that and say, what's yourbusiness? Oh, I can't say what I'm doing. And I look at 'em and I say, let metell you something, a taxi driver can have an idea. It's about execution. Yeah.And you not sharing your idea with other people, retard your ability to learnfrom them, to validate whether it's a good idea or a bad idea.

And I'm not hereand I will never, ever, ever tell you your idea is not gonna work. Yeah.Because think about this. Hey, hey Julian. I've got this great idea. I thinkthat millions of good people are let strangers into their house for a couplebucks. What, you're not gonna do that. Right? So just that alone, I'm not gonnatell you your business is not gonna be successful, right?

Yeah. Becauseobviously Airbnb, that dynamic. Yeah. It's really all about, are you thefounder that has the grit, has the intelligence, has the flexibility, has thehumility to go find product market fit and do that. Yeah. And the more peopleyou talk to and the more people you bring inside the tent, you share your ideawith.

99.999 times outtaa hundred. Nobody's gonna do anything with that, so don't worry about it. It'snot that great of an idea. It's about your execution.  

Julian:Yeah. Well said. Is.  

Lee:As, as I sell my team, it's better to execute than to be executed. That'snot,  

Julian: Ilove that. Lee, it's been such a pleasure. I know we're coming to the end ofthe show to, to not only learn from your experience, but also how you'rebuilding ConstructionBevy and some of the philosophies you think about when,when building companies and understanding not only delivering value, but.

Scaling a company,what is necessary at the different stages to do so. And last little bit beforewe give a a a, an opportunity for you to give us your plugs and where to findyou. Is there any question I didn't ask you that I should have or anything thatwe didn't touch upon that we left on the table?


Lee:Oh, I could come up with a bunch. The first one is, are entrepreneurs born ormade? I think it's both. I think there's some that are born, I think there'ssome that are made. Some people didn't want to be an entrepreneur and theirhusband left them and they had to go start cooking and they, built a cookiebusiness or they built, a law firm or whatever.

Right. But I thinkthat one thing I will say, cuz I'm. I'm 57. It's not like I'm 30. I'm not, I'mnot, I am not central casting for startups. I was when I got funded, in mytwenties and thirties, so I knew it. And on my 25th birthday, Michael Dell sentme overseas as a second, expat to go over this.

So I, I understandwhat it's like to be in your twenties and thirties and, be full of piss andvinegar and everything else. The one thing I would say is that you really haveto find your purpose, right? What is it that really motivates you? Because ifyou can't motivate yourself, You can't fake it to go motivate your employees,motivate your investors, motivate your customers.

So find yourpurpose in life. Find what is it that really drives the needle for you, andthen just pour kerosene on it.  

Julian:Yeah, I love that, Lee. And last thing is, where can we find you? Where can webe a fan of not only you know your company, but you as a founder? Give us yourLinkedIns. Obviously we have your medium, which we'll throw into the shownotes, but anywhere else where we can find you and be a fan.

Lee:Yeah, so it's ConstructionBevy.com. Be is a, a group of like-minded people. SoConstructionBevy.com. I think it's LinkedIn slash Lee Blaylock. It's LeeBlaylock on Twitter. And and then also a medium. There's several things, and Idon't know what the URL is, but if you just type in lead B L A Y L O C K mediumConstructionBevy, I'm pretty easy to find.

And also, if you goto startup grind.com/dallas, you can see over a hundred entrepreneurs that I'veinterviewed over the last 10 years. And learned from 'em about, probably 67% of'em have become personal friends.  

Julian:Amazing. Lee, it's been such a pleasure to have you on this show. I hope youenjoyed yourself and thank you again for being on and Behind Company linestoday.

Lee:Likewise, pleasure and keep grinding.  

Julian:Of course.

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