Plusieurs géants de ce monde ont débuté au même endroit que nous: dans un garage. Le meilleur exemple est le même que nous voyons sur les réseaux sociaux (apple, google, amazon, ...). fondateur et innovateur, Franky Champagne est le créateur des outils que nous avons lancés à ce jour. Issu du milieu de la construction et travaillant encore à ce jour sur les chantiers, il adore travailler de ses mains et arrive à visualiser des objets qui pourraient grandement améliorer l'efficacité sur les chantiers de construction
My first visit
The first time I went to Franky’s house to see some of his latest innovations, I was astonished by his virtual room… My first impression: the red room from fifty shades of grey but for 3D conception. Black room, padded walls and ceiling to avoid all injuries while working with conceptual 3D glasses. Clearly, Franky had bounced previously in those walls to see the added value of the black pads. That was only the tip of the iceberg… A little further, he showed me his garage: tools, prototype, glue, rubber, screens, plastic samples and machined parts. A garage that clearly was never used to store a car or bikes. The only thing that makes it a real garage is the door! Nobody from the outside of this house could have imagined that a beautiful story was beginning behind that door. Finally, we went down in the basement where he showed me where the magic takes place. Top of the line computer, 3D printers, he was beginning to explain to me how he would design and build each model and I was completely lost! It was as if I was shipped in a country where I couldn’t read the signs and understand the language. Everyone has it’s own strength they say, in that moment we knew there was an important potential in that house and it was too easy to project those prototype ideas into real products.
In Quebec, 132 million hours are worked in construction excluding residential workers annually. The construction industry represents 165 000 workers registered in the union. This represents 2% of the current population. If we bring this statistic to the national level, it represents approximately 750 000 workers. Imagine if we collectively succeed by gaining simply 5 minutes per work day in productivity. This 5 minutes would result in billions of dollar saved. Studies by McKenzie have demonstrated that the consturction industry falls in the innovation ranking below the fishing and hunting industry! We clearly have room for improvement, no? objectives: reduce health and safety hazards, increase productivity of a task on jobsites by at least 3 times and therefore reduce construction costs and finally be easy to use. Being faster while using our tools, it means we offer a solution to the lack of labor as workers will be done before and will be allocated to another task. How can the industry benefit? How can we market it? We were already dreaming of being at a negotiating table with a company like Hilti presenting them our products that have no comparison thus far. When you’ve worked on jobsites with your bare hands, that your back has hurt, that you arrived home tired from working physically all day, that you’ve cut yourself more than once, that you avoided falling from your scaffolding hundreds of times, that you’ve lost count of times where a wire almost got into your eye, you understand the job risks. So now, imagine if there were actual solutions to work faster without any of those risks. There’s no reason to stay in a garage and not have all the workers from this industry benefit from it. In my case, I had previously managed many work accident cases and productivity is also constantly in my mind, so I automatically recognized the value of these innovations.
“I don’t have time!” Words that came around quit often in our initial team. Each partner having separate businesses running, we didn’t know how we would get to the point of launching Franky’s ideas into sellable products. Our thinking: do it well, one step at a time. That’s where my input begun. Make a plan, establish everyone’s tasks, evaluate missing elements to start the use of prototypes on various construction sites from Gestion TFC’s (Franky) and STC Acoustique 2015 (Steve), evaluate the investments required to launch the first few products and file the appropriate patents. We all have choices to make in life, the time we spend on what we do, that’s a choice. Investing time and money for Goliath was not a question that each one of us could ask themselves if we wanted this project to work. I’m using the metaphor of wanting to climb Everest tomorrow to explain to you where each one of us were the first time we spoke about uniting our strengths. Franky was watching videos of the mountain and saying that he went to Kilimanjaro without a problem and that Everest was the same thing.
Steve was already buying his plane ticket to go to the basecamp the following week to practice although he had never hiked in his life while I was making lists of what we would need in our backpacks, looking for training programs and proposing to set a future date to go according to our budget and training. 3 brains wired very differently. The good news is that it’s all complimentary.
Why the 3 of us together? Steve is cousin with Franky! As for me, I’ve know the Champagne family personally since 2017. Before that we were competitors in construction. Steve and I decided over a year ago to unit our strengths in the industry and established a partnership for various contracts. Considering that we were already working together, once we saw the prototypes, our entrepreneurial brains started working on creating more value!
That being said, we quickly realized that we had to change our priorities and also invest in the team is we wanted to launch the products within a year. The next steps were getting out of the garage, move in STC’s warehouse, hire our first employee, establish goals and elaborate a financial plan. A few months later and having tripping multiple times and crossing many uncertainties regarding functionality and production, we were finally ready to take off.