Episode 30 | 

August 24, 2023

Real-Time Construction Insights

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In This Episode

In this episode of The Construction Revolution Podcast, we sit down with Chloe Smith, the Founder and CEO at Mercator AI. Coming from a marketing background, Chloe is knowledgeable about the application of data analytics to gain insight into a company’s competitive environment. She and her co-founder, Hogan Lee, started Mercator AI to bring this application into the construction industry. 

Mercator AI connects billions of data points to provide real-time insights for general contractors, building product managers, and real estate firms. With this intel, firms can gain a competitive advantage by discovering opportunities earlier, faster, and more easily. In an ever-growing industry, having this information all in one place simplifies relationship management. 

Tune in as we discuss the importance and challenges of developing working relationships in construction, and how Mercator AI facilitates these connections in a fast-scaling industry. 

Host Image


Steven Rossi-Zalmons

Marketing & Events Lead, Giatec Scientific Inc.

Guest Image


Chloe Smith

Co-Founder and CEO, Mercator AI

Podcast Transcript

Steven Rossi-Zalmons:

Hello there and welcome to The Construction Revolution Podcast. My name is Steven Rossi, and here on the show we explore the latest trends, technologies, people, and organizations that are revolutionizing or disrupting the construction industry and are changing what the industry will look like tomorrow. Today on the show, I’m speaking with Chloe Smith, the co-founder and CEO at Mercator AI. Prior to launching Mercator, Chloe developed market intelligence tools for business developers in the marketing and advertising space where she helped reduce the time spent on gap analysis. With a strong background in data strategy, big data, AI, and data monetization, Chloe was able to leverage her expertise to create Mercator.

Today, Mercator analyzes millions of construction data activities from conception to post-construction to enable early project detection, uncover risk signals and service competitive and client insights in real time. Together with her co-founder Hogan Lee, Chloe is building a company that is at the forefront of industry intelligence and innovation. Tune in to learn more about Chloe’s experience entering the construction industry and to learn about how Mercator can revolutionize the way you discover projects.

Welcome Chloe. Thank you for joining us today. How are you doing?

Chloe Smith:

I’m good, Steven. Thank you so much for having me.

Steven Rossi-Zalmons:

Absolutely. We can just dive right in. Can you tell me a little bit about the origins of Mercator AI and how you came up with the idea for the company?

Chloe Smith:

Absolutely. Our origin story, we started with a background, or I started with a background in data strategy coming from the marketing and advertising space. And with that background I spent quite a bit of time actually looking at external data and helping our new business teams actually helping build and designing rapid intelligence tools for the marketing and advertising space. Helping our new business development teams basically airdrop into new industries and pitch them very, very quickly on interesting strategies, brand strategies, consumer approaches, really helping them to understand what does that market look like, the competitive set, the customer voice, the brand opportunities, the gaps that existed. And I kept thinking to myself, I come from a construction family, never been in construction before, but something that always irked me was, “How come there isn’t tools like this today in the construction industry?”

And just thinking about the conversations that I had at the dinner table, growing up with my dad, always mentioning that relationships that he had, that’s who people did business with. They did business with him, not with the company. And I thought to myself as I had the opportunity to see more and more businesses and how they operate and the risks that exist, how risky it is to have your entire business and your revenue hinging on individuals and their relationships instead of being able to have the relationship with the business itself. And I thought, “Here’s an opportunity to marry two environments that seem completely different,” but using external data or the data exhaust that gets produced by the construction industry to map those relationships and those opportunities and help companies find opportunity to and detect opportunities early on as well as detect risks early on so that they can understand what threats are they being exposed to, and what opportunities might they be missing because they might not have the relationships in place to jump in on those projects or support on those projects early on.

Really came from a confluence of my background in marketing and advertising and seeing what we were doing in the consumer space, and then also my upbringing of how relationship driven construction is and how you really can only see as far as your relationships allow you to see and what that means in terms of what you might be missing and what you might not be seeing in market.

Steven Rossi-Zalmons:

Absolutely. That’s really interesting. I think coming from a marketing background myself, definitely I don’t have a family tie to construction, but being in the construction industry now, especially doing all the trade shows that we do, you really notice how relationship driven things are, especially when you’re in person at trade shows. As much as we try and be a digital and non-relationship based company, obviously the industry dictates that you do that a little bit. I think that’s a great point and really interesting how you bring your marketing background into it. Diving into the product a little bit more, can you explain some of the features of Mercator and the types of customers that you have?

Chloe Smith:

Absolutely. Today we directly service general contractors, the mid-size enterprise level general contractors. We also service building product manufacturers as well as real estate brokers. But primarily what our users can do, I’ll give you a bit of a concept around what it is that we are doing and how a user can interact with that information. We don’t actually track construction projects. We actually track the data that gets produced over the life cycle of a plot of land. As land moves through stages and gets acquired, gets rezoned, we start planning on what do we want to build? What real estate do we want to develop here? We build the team, we pulled the team together, that team creates materials, and then we ultimately move into actually building the thing and bringing it to life. And then ultimately activating that building if we’re building something brand new.

And then moving into that post-construction stage where now we’re looking at potentially even bringing tenants in and then starting the process over again, for example, with the tenant improvement. And if we think about the data that gets produced along that life cycle, what we’ve done is we’ve actually, our AI stitches all of that together to basically detect projects and detect them at the earliest possible stages, which means that our users can come into our platform and if I’m a general contractor for example, and I’m interested in finding out about projects at the conception stage, I can tell Mercator that that’s my interest level and that’s where I’d like to come in. And these are the types of assets that like asset classes I like to work on.

And I can come in and have Mercator basically find me those projects and recommend me those projects as they happen, as they’re at those stages. As well as give me the information about what’s happening on that project so far, who’s involved so far, what materials have been created, and give me access to profiles of the company’s involved so that I can understand not only what’s happened with that project, but what are they working on, who do they commonly work with, who might I be competing against? And then ultimately contact details so that if it’s not in your Rolodex or you don’t have that relationship, you at least have it through us.

And bringing that whole process of word of mouth that we typically go down, finding out about a project, hearing through the grapevines, having dinners and taking people out to games to piece together the story, bringing that all down to digitizing word of mouth and making it accessible in a handful of clicks. That’s one of the key features of Mercator is where the workhorse behind it all is really being able to identify those early opportunities in real time. But we also offer a myriad of other solutions around competitive intelligence, market intelligence, risk detection that we’re growing and building right now, off that main product.

Steven Rossi-Zalmons:

That’s really interesting. I know the construction industry, obviously there’s data everywhere, and I don’t think, we definitely don’t utilize it too often at all. Definitely not to its fullest potential. And I know at Giatec we see that a lot with concrete, but it’s interesting that it’s throughout all aspects of the construction industry. On the podcast, we have numerous companies that are starting to leverage that in different ways and including this application. It’s really interesting. When you first show Mercator and all the different capabilities to a prospective customer, do you get a lot of pushback or hesitation? I know obviously the construction industry has a reputation for being slow to adopt and rightfully so. I’m curious as to what reception you receive when you first pitch the product.

Chloe Smith:

Often what we get is a reaction of, “How do you know that?” For many people, it can be sometimes intimidating, maybe a little creepy, which is totally fair because I come from a world of marketing and advertising where we do all the creepy targeting things. But I think what’s most impactful is actually seeing people’s eyes open quite wide and how excited they are at the potential of what they’re seeing because something that I love seeing, especially when we show customers or prospects, the tool is very rapidly how they shift or how they grow in terms of their analytics maturity. You show them a little bit of information, then they start asking questions on that information, and it starts to grow and grow. And you realize there’s an industry that’s hungry here, that’s very hungry for information. They’ve only really had this information accessible through conversation or LinkedIn or Google.

And I think one of the challenges there is that they’ve never been able to see this holistically and trended. Oftentimes I’ll interact with two camps. You’ll have a group that’s really empowered by this information, and then you’ll have a group that tells me, “I’ve been in industry for 30, 40 years, what can you tell me that I don’t already know?” And oftentimes I think about the folks who’ve been in industry for a long period of time, they do know a lot. They have the relationships that is so critical. It’s critical to their job, it’s what’s made them incredibly successful. But one of the challenges they face is that they can’t trend that information out. It’s all up here. It’s all in their heads. And understanding trends and understanding what’s coming down the pike and understanding what influences might be shifting the market is stuff that they derive from what they hear.

It’s not something that they’re able to really analyze. And I think that that’s an opportunity that we really present to the industry is we’ve got a whole group of folks aging out right now, that are taking those relationships with them, my father included. And we’ve got folks that are in their early thirties to early forties having to shoulder that revenue expectation. And there are more players in market now. It’s not as simple as there’s a handful of architects that I need to know, or a handful of clients I need to know. There are more individuals in market, there’s more companies in market, more players.

And being able to give you an eagle view or a bird’s eye view of what’s happening, who’s working with who on what and for how much, I think when we interact with new prospects, it’s a bit of a mind-blowing experience for them at first, but then they very quickly start to stand on the shoulders of the platform and start asking questions that are much more insight driven and data driven than I think they’ve been able to ask before. And it gives them a sense of, “There’s so much here that I can start digging into and learning that we didn’t previously have.” And I oftentimes get asked this question and with probably the expectation that yes, I do get a lot of pushback, but in fact I don’t, which is really fascinating. And it shows really the hunger that the industry has for tools like this.

Steven Rossi-Zalmons:

Absolutely. That’s great. I think it’s great that you received such good positive feedback initially. I know, these revolutionary innovative products going when you first pitched someone, they’re like, “Oh, wow, that’s so cool,” to be like, “Oh wait, this is actually super useful. This would change everything,” it’s really cool to see that switch in someone as you’re talking to them. And based off what you were saying there, I’m wondering if there’s a standout application or case study that you’ve seen with a client where that journey has happened, where they’re really using your tools to the fullest capability and how that’s changed things for them.

Chloe Smith:

Yeah, absolutely. We’ve had a number of customers use us as an opportunity to step into a new market. Usually it takes about four to six years to set up boots on the ground and set up a new operation. But to be able to step into a brand new market, be invited to projects that they would’ve never known about, be able to understand who should they be talking to right now, who should they be building relationships with? Not only that, but who should they be working with once they’ve won a project because they don’t know the trades in the space.

They don’t know who are the most reliable companies to be working with to get the job done right. And I think the biggest value props in our customers using us is immediately they start seeing things that they would’ve never seen on their own. And that really starts to target and focus in their efforts, whereas previously they would’ve seen any opportunity, any lead as an opportunity, they stop chasing ghosts and they start chasing projects that are real, that have money behind them that are already in progress that they can get behind and get involved with and really start making a difference.

Steven Rossi-Zalmons:

Wow, that’s awesome. Moving to the business side and how you got started, I know you’ve spent a fairly long time validating your proof of concept before launching a full product. I’m wondering what that process was like, why you and your co-founder opted for that route and looking back, if you were to do it all again, would you do it the same way?

Chloe Smith:

Oh gosh, if I were to do it all again, would I do it the same way? And why did we take so long incubating the project or the product? One of the most important things I believe in developing any product, and luckily I’ve had the chance to develop products under the roof of other companies, which has been an incredible learning opportunity to build and break and build and break and build and break is always so much, one, easier to do with someone else’s money, but it’s also such a fantastic learning opportunity, especially in such a supportive environment and the environment that I was in. I think one of the reasons why we took so long to incubate was really because we wanted to make sure that the problem that we were solving was a real problem that people had. And it wasn’t something that was a vitamin, the solution that we would be creating would be an actual painkiller, not a vitamin.

I think that’s always really important. I think sometimes, especially early on, founders get really obsessed with their ideas and they forget who they’re billing for. And I wanted to ensure that, especially if we’re going into a market where, look, I don’t pass the sniff test when I step into a room. They know I’m not from construction, and that’s okay, but they know that I’m here to listen and listen intently and make sure that I’m building a product that’s going to make sense for them. And as a result, I’ve received a lot of trust and support in return because we are so customer obsessed and so customer focused. And we spent a lot of time taking a concept and frankly taking a technology that we knew would be game changer, but trying to ensure that we found the application where it would actually be a painkiller or not a vitamin took the longest.

I didn’t think coming out of this when I jumped and I quit my job, I did not think that I would be in construction, frankly. In fact, I thought, yes, we wanted to go into an antiquated industry or a more traditional industry, but definitely didn’t know we were going to be going into construction. And I think part of it comes from my background and my family’s background, but another part was validating that. There’s something to be said about your own biases. And we wanted to ensure that we didn’t have a lot of bias coming into building this product. And we ran a market research study, we spoke to manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, construction, healthcare insurance, and we had the conversations with their business development teams, market research teams, strategic planning teams, “How do you understand your market today? What kind of data are you using to find your next opportunity and what is available in market?”

And that’s really where we heard the construction industry start to cry out. If the work isn’t happening with us, if the clients aren’t working with us, it’s really a black box and we treat it as a people problem. If we want to grow our businesses, we hire more people. And that’s really where I saw an opportunity of, “No, no, no, this is a data problem and we can fix this with data.” And a great approach that we’ve taken has been making sure that we’re listening first and listening intently and then being able to build a product from that basis and a product that’s actually driving a solution that is a painful problem that we’re experiencing in market. And that’s really how long it took to come to that. I would say that we certainly raised, we thought… You’re first time founders, you do all kinds of crazy things at the beginning.

You build a website to see if anybody’s interested in the problem we were solving. You run proof of concepts. At one point we raised our friends and family round before we knew where we were in construction. And we were quite cautious about spending that money, especially because, it’s your friends and family, you have to see them, even if your business doesn’t pan out, you have to see them at family events or at a barbecue.

And ensuring that we were spending that money wisely was supremely important. And we made sure that we did a lot of bootstrapping, testing, proof of concepting before we started building. And we knew that once we started building, we were building something that we were very confident there was value in. Would I do it the same way again? Hopefully it wouldn’t take that long as it did this time. But I certainly think that spending time steeped in the market is an incredibly important step and shouldn’t be overlooked. And I think oftentimes, like I said earlier, we get obsessed as founders with an idea and a concept, and sometimes we get a little afraid to validate it because it’s scary if someone tells you that your idea sucks.

Steven Rossi-Zalmons:

That’s a great point and a great tip for anyone who’s looking to start any business really. Obviously the biases you have, it’s your idea, it’s your baby and you don’t want anyone to talk badly about it. It can definitely be scary to go out and validate that idea and also deal with, if it’s not validated, how you pivot and go to a different industry and modify it so it works. Diving a bit more into your story, I’m wondering how you met your co-founder and what made you guys want to go into business together and then also how you guys worked together on a day-to-day basis and any tips you would have to people looking to start a business and looking to find a partner or decide who they want to work with.

Chloe Smith:

Absolutely. My co-founder and I met when we were both working at the same agency together. I had just joined, they asked you to fill out a profile about yourself and they shout it out to the whole organization. In that profile, at the very, very bottom, I said that I reupholster antique furniture as a hobby. And within the hour he showed up at my desk and said, “Do you know how to reupholster leather?” I started asking him questions about it, “What are you building?” And he tells me, “I’ve got a woodworking shop.” And at the time was building furniture in my tiny little apartment and I thought, “Wow, this is very novel. I’d love to have a woodworking shop.” And we ended up owning a woodworking shop together for four and a half years, well before we ended up working together on Mercator.

And one of the quintessential things I would say is the hallmark of a good relationship and a good co-foundership is having history together. I know it’s not always an opportunity or the case and it can be very difficult to frankly trust somebody who is brand new to the business because everybody comes in with their own agendas. I think the lucky thing between Hogan and I is that we’ve always had a foundation of friendship and trust and care towards one another that supersedes anything we’ve built together. And that’s been incredibly important. I would say we are certainly yin and yang and opposite ends of the spectrum, which is a really strong co-foundership. I think I am somebody who leads from head and he’s somebody who leads from behind, and I think that’s really important to have that dichotomy.

If I were to give any advice to somebody who’s looking to choose their co-founder, startups are incredibly difficult. They test you in all of the ways, and I think what you want to understand is what are the breaking points? What are the lines in the sand that the other individual will never cross? Or what does it look like if it gets too tough? And I think that resilience is something that you really have to test early on with some hard conversations and feel free to go there. If you’re afraid that the person’s going to step away because it’s too difficult or the conversation is too challenging, you have your answer there. That’s probably not your co-founder because you’re going to have incredibly challenging conversations.

You’re going to have incredible amounts of stress, not to mention, once you start bringing more and more dollars and cents into the business, it becomes a whole new ballgame and it becomes financial stresses. It’s very similar to a marriage in that the things that flare you up in your relationships, flare you up in your business relationships as well. And you need to find a partner who you think you can weather those storms with and who will weather those storms with you. I would say it comes far more down to people skills and the relationship than necessarily the technical aspects of each other’s roles.

Steven Rossi-Zalmons:

For sure. I think that’s a great point. Looking at something as more of a relationship than a strategic business decision, you’re not just looking for people to compliment what you bring to the table. Obviously that is something you’re looking for, but that’s not the most important point. I think that’s a great tip. You’ve talked about this a little bit before, but before starting Mercator, you obviously did a lot of work in marketing and sales and some digital automation. Have those experiences really helped you to found and to grow Mercator?

Chloe Smith:

Those experiences, being in marketing and advertising and in digital transformation, I am incredibly risk tolerant. It’s a staple of being an entrepreneur and I’ve always run towards the chaos instead of away from it. And as a result, it’s put me in some really interesting positions and some really interesting learnings at an early age and early on in my career as well. And I’ve had the opportunity to build analytics departments. I’ve had the opportunity to take on projects that were way too big for me and completely land on my face. I’ve had the opportunity to see how massive, massive consumer companies think and how really, really agile B2B companies think. And it’s really given me a perspective on how I want to lead. It’s also given me a perspective on what kind of teams I want to build.

It’s also given me a perspective on how can I take a very, say, unique mindset and apply it to an industry who’s maybe never seen it before? And actually have the goal or the confidence to walk in and say, “I think this will work and I’m willing to try. And I’m willing to amass a team around me that’s also willing to try.” Whether that be prospects pioneering customers or actual team members. And it’s working at the front lines of data in the marketing and advertising space has really given me confidence actually to try things because I’ve seen them work in other industries and bring it to an industry, a brand new industry. Working in agency has helped me get an exposure to so many different industries from automotive to healthcare to consumer gaming and understand how do they use data and how do they understand their markets and as a result, how can we use that in construction to improve transparency, strategic planning, and ultimately the intelligence that we move our business forwards with?

Steven Rossi-Zalmons:

Absolutely. That’s great that you’re able to use all of that knowledge and experience to help and give you confidence to walk into any room and pitch the product. Speaking of which I’m wondering, coming from a non-construction background to typically older, also typically male dominated industry, what your experience has been trying to break through into the market and establish not only your position but also the position of Mercator in the industry.

Chloe Smith:

This is an interesting one. Coming into a market that is more male dominated, one thing that I have noticed is that more of our customers are actually women, which was very surprising to me. I would say probably 40% of our customers are women. And I didn’t expect that off the bat, which has actually been a lot more of a supportive environment. I’ve had a lot of folks be really excited that this is a women led company in construction. Especially, we’re seeing a lot more women in the field on site as supers for example. There’s quite a bit of a shift happening, which is I would say incredibly exciting. In terms of reception and how do I establish myself? I’m a very young looking woman and as a result can sometimes be a little bit surprising to meet me behind this business. And in those cases, in fact actually I’ve had very little challenges with being a female in this industry.

In fact, I don’t think it’s been a massive challenge. I think what’s been more of a challenge though is actually getting our brand to be recognized. And what I mean by that is early on when we would reach out to companies, if you don’t have that early brand recognition in construction, if somebody doesn’t know your company’s name, they get very skeptical and they get very nervous about phishing. And we are taught as companies to be really mindful about people reaching out that you don’t know who they are. And that has been really challenging. And what we learned was that getting introduced, having more brand recognition in market, doing a lot of upper funnel awareness work has actually been a massive improvement in terms of being able to reach out or having companies come to us and self validate and self-qualify in terms of ultimately then moving into a sales conversation.

That’s been really helpful most recently that we’ve learned. And I wish we were at that stage in the fall of last year because I reached out to so many people and never got responses. And a big part of that was because they didn’t know who we were. There was no prior relationship or knowledge of the brand. And I think now where we’ve had a lot of introductions and we’ve been speaking at a lot of events and we do podcasts like this, this is helpful because we’re able to say, “Look, no, we’re not phishing. We’re real. We’re early stage. We’re looking for the most proactive in advanced construction companies to come work with us to help shape the product. And we’re basically building a tool that’ll revolutionize the future of how we understand and look at construction in terms of the relationships and the work that’s being done and the money that’s being spent. And we certainly want to ensure that we’re building it alongside the industry.”

It’s been a journey for sure to figure that out. But certainly in the calls where I have been in front of more male dominated team members, it hasn’t been a huge challenge. Not to mention that I run fully towards any male dominated space, I’m a rock climber, a mountain biker, a surfer, I gravitate towards those environments first and foremost.

Steven Rossi-Zalmons:

That’s great. It’s good to hear that you didn’t really have many challenges. Obviously the reputation the construction industry has and things related to this isn’t great, but it’s great to see that that’s shifting. And I know we see that in our company as well. And it sounds like you see it in the field as well, which is where it starts. You can’t have people high up on supplying the construction site if there’s no one on the site to support that as well. That’s great. Looking ahead, I’m wondering what are some key goals or milestones that Mercator is working towards right now and how you see the platform evolving in the next few years?

Chloe Smith:

Absolutely. And our key milestones right off the bat here are going to be really moving our product to more scalable environment. And that’s what the team’s working on today. We had the opportunity to close around in this economy, which is crazy for 3.75 million USD back in January with some pretty amazing investors like Freestyle VC and Zacua Ventures and Builders VC. And with that funding, what we’ve done is we’ve actually grown our team from six people to 14. Actually I think we’re about 15 now and we’ll grow to 17 this year. Really massively growing the team and as a result, growing the technology stack, starting to bring in a lot of tools like ChatGPT for example, to bring in more intelligence into the tool. A lot of our work is in natural language processing, ocular character recognition, computer vision, and starting to bring a lot of that intelligence to the surface for our users to actually interact with so it’s not just all under the surface in terms of the iceberg.

That’ll be a huge milestone for us as we move through the next six months is really shifting that tech stack, bringing in a lot more of that modeling. And then as a result for our users, it’s really about stronger recommendation engines, really getting them to a stage where when they receive an email from us of their viable projects in their inbox, and 90% of those are projects they have to go after today because they’re absolutely on the nose viable for them, and they have the contact details, the materials, the company profiles to support them in having really educated conversations.

And that’s really the next six months. And then coming out of that, our focus is really starting to build out our suite of tools. Over the next year, two years, you’ll start to see a lot more tools coming out of Mercator, not just lead detection, early opportunity detection, but competitive intelligence, market insights, prequalification tools, really moving ourselves from opportunity detection into really deep risk detection because I think it’s really important for us to understand the degrees of separation and the exposure of risk that we are potentially exposing ourselves to.

One of the big shifts that you’ll see in our product is as we get more and more data in that describes the construction process in the construction industry, we’re going to start to expand out. And starting to look at tertiary data sets, data that actually helps to contextualize what’s happening, we start looking at things like external factors like interest rates, labor shortages, starting to understand how are those dynamics helping to shift the construction industry and what potential opportunities or threats lie ahead of us. You’ll start to see us shift towards more of that future intelligence or predictive intelligence, which will be really fun.

I’ve seen a lot of that and I’ve built a lot of it in the marketing advertising space. Having this whole roadmap ahead of us and bringing the industry along. And our goal really is to help with that maturity curve, giving the tools today that as you grow with us, you’ll actually grow your own analytics sophistication in terms of the data they use. How do you use that data? What insights? How are you driving your business with that data? And ultimately our vision is to empower the next generation of proactive and insight driven construction companies. And we do that by building tools that help them make better decisions faster, basically.

Steven Rossi-Zalmons:

Absolutely. That’s super exciting. I think collecting the data obviously is first and then using it and being able to use it in real time is obviously something that’s super valuable, but if you can take that even further to being predictive and helping guide the future, I think that’s taking it to the next step, which in construction we definitely need and is something that’s definitely missing right now. That’s really exciting. You mentioned their recent round of funding that you had. Firstly, congratulations. I know how much work that must have been to secure, and you touched on how the rapid scaling that comes with that. I’m wondering how, as a company and as the co-founder, you approach the scaling that comes with a large round of funding like that?

Chloe Smith:

It’s actually very different. Looking at scaling is very different in this market, as it was say even two years ago, in 2021 when there was a lot of money getting tossed around. Growth and scaling was rapid, it was using a lot of people. It wasn’t scaling businesses with automation and smart tooling. And we have to look at our businesses differently now, this “Vintage of startups” that are emerging in this recession state. We have to look at our businesses and focus on constructing really healthy, scalable businesses, which means that we can’t just keep throwing people at problems. We actually have to look at how do we structure our businesses around tools that will help us scale into the future and not necessarily scale with a human being, but scale, say with automation or with AI. And as a result, it’s about, one, managing our dollars.

Yes, we’ve raised quite a bit and in Canada a 5 million Canadian raise is an early series A, which is a pretty amazing position to be in. And we have a very strong runway and now it’s about managing those dollars and cents and making sure are we building our team at the right speed? Are we building our product at the right speed? What’s the appetite of the industry? We have to be mindful of the fact that we are in a recession, how are people spending? Where should we be spending time developing product versus selling product?

And as we go into our go-to market strategy, how do we do so in a scalable way that allows us to emerge as a healthy company with healthy metrics, with a healthy sales funnel? And that’s probably going to be a lot of what’s on my plate over the next year is figuring out what that looks like and ensuring that if we do a need to hit a next funding milestone, we are prepared to be able to showcase that if you pour gasoline on this fire that we have burning, it’s something that can burn scalably or grow scalably instead of ultimately ending up fizzling out and having us cut down on people and cut down on size because we’ve grown too quickly, too fast or too large, too fast with individuals versus a smart, stable approach.

And it’s going to be trying times, but that resilience and that hard work is what is ultimately I think going to make a lot of these startups growing up in this day and age become very, very successful. Very strong businesses as we move into a new era of the economy or a new era of construction.

Steven Rossi-Zalmons:

Absolutely. That’s really interesting. That’s great advice for anyone in any business. I know you see a lot of startups once they get that VC or funding, it’s more money than what to do with and you throw it around and it can disappear pretty quickly, although it’s a lot of money and what do you do then? It’s great that you’re thinking long term and not only what you do with that money, but the money that comes in the future. That’s really interesting. I just have one last question before we wrap up. I was looking on this Mercator’s LinkedIn and social media, and I saw that you were recently honored on the Glory Pro 30X30, and you touched on that you’re an avid athlete and a sports fan. Looking through that list, there’s some pretty huge names in sports and Canadian sports athletes specifically. I’m wondering if you ever thought you’d be on a list like that and what it’s like to be on a list with some of the biggest athletes in our country?

Chloe Smith:

It’s pretty neat, I got to say, I don’t know, I’m very humble individual. All I can say is I have an insane amount of gratefulness for the journey that I’ve been on so far and the people that have supported me and the opportunities I’ve been afforded. I think I was reminded by somebody actually, I went to university with that, one of the conversations I had with them, oh gosh, probably 12 years ago now, was, “I really hope one day I would make a top 40 under 40 list.” And here I am and it’s pretty darn cool is all I can say. It’s definitely a pinch me moment and a bucket list moment.

But again, there’s a lot of work ahead of us and I’m very cognizant of that. And as somebody who struggles to celebrate, I give it a nod, I give it a thank you and we put our heads down and continue moving forward. But definitely very, very cool to be featured with some incredible athletes. I know that the team, that was one of the first things that they had mentioned was pointing out all the athletes on that list. And it was quite neat. It was quite an honor.

Steven Rossi-Zalmons:

Absolutely. Again, congratulations and looking forward to see you on many lists like that in the future. Just to wrap up, for listeners who are looking to learn more about Mercator, where should they go and what’s the process like for getting started?

Chloe Smith:

Absolutely. They can go to mercator.ai, that’s M-E-R-C-A-T-O-R.ai, and they can sign up for a trial directly on the site. We are dealing with a huge influx of interest right now, and we’re actually booking demos into the fall right now, which is quite a bit away. But certainly what we’re doing is we’re ensuring that those that are interested are being put on a re-engagement campaign so that they’re getting to see all of the advancements that are happening in the platform, what they can be prepared for when they do sign on for a trial, we will support them through that trial process and ultimately get them experiencing that value immediately. I think that’s the most important thing, especially with a brand new tool like ours, is really getting the opportunity to experience it ahead of time. I don’t like tools that try and sell you on their value prop right away, or after you’ve signed up.

We ensure that our users are able to experience our value and then ultimately if it makes sense for their business, join us as subscribers. And throughout that process, our active listeners, avid listeners, we want to hear their feedback. We want to ensure the platform is growing. Always really neat to work with a startup. I know construction is incredibly risk-adverse when it comes to trying to entertain new tools, but honestly, I would encourage anyone who is looking at new technology to really ask their vendors to do work for them, show them the value, be proactive on their behalf so that they’re not taking as much risk as a company who’s looking to invest in new technology. And we do that for our customers and then throughout the process, while they’re subscribed with us, we listen all the time because it’s important for us to be building the technology with them and not selling it to them without their input.

Steven Rossi-Zalmons:

Awesome. That’s great. Thank you so much. Thank you for everything. Thanks for joining us on the podcast today.

Chloe Smith:

Thank you so much, Steven. Thanks for the opportunity.

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