Written by Jacqueline Leung
City MOGULS: Founder Profiles Series
Stories of strength, growth, and resilience. A spotlight series featuring founders and leaders from across Canada and the US whose stories and experiences will inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs.
A conversation with Mallorie Brodie, CEO and Co-Founder of Bridgit, a software company focused on developing mobile and web-based solutions for the construction industry.
Eight years in business is no small feat. For Bridgit, a software company that develops solutions for the construction industry, the key is focusing on solving problems; talking to customers about solutions then figuring out ways to create those solutions.
“Don’t fall in love with ideas,” says Mallorie Brodie, the CEO and Co-Founder of the Canadian start up. “We’re always trying to research and find real solutions.”
Those solutions are now helping some of the largest contractors in the world manage projects and drive workforce productivity.
What is Bridgit?
In brief, Bridgit makes construction less complicated.
Bridgit builds mobile and web-based solutions to solve problems for general contractors and subcontractors across North America.
For those of us who are not familiar with the construction industry, that means replacing manual work (think taking photos, marking them up in Microsoft Paint, then emailing them to yourself) with digital software solutions, ultimately saving contractors a ton of time and money.
Bridgit was founded in 2014 not out of a great idea or personal pain point, but as a result of a lot of research and multiple conversations with leaders in the construction industry.
“Everyone is waiting for this ‘aha’ moment,” remembers Brodie, “but Lauren and I have based our products on research.”
Brodie met Lauren Lake, Bridgit’s COO and Co-Founder, while participating in The Next 36. During their time in the Toronto program, she and Brodie got on the phone and spoke to people and asked them about their pain points. The company’s first product, Bridgit Field, was the outcome of those conversations.
The founders have continued to build their business around this philosophy.
Growing With Bridgit
Fast forward five years, in 2019, the company launched its second product, Bridgit Bench, a solution that helps contractors manage their workforce capacity, skills tracking, and employee scheduling. It is yet another solution that was the outcome of dozens of conversations with customers.
Brodie remembers speaking to over 50 executives at construction companies to gather insight for their second product.
“We talked to an IT exec for an hour, and in minute 61, there was this idea of resource planning,” Brodie said. “Going into this meeting, we didn’t even know what resource planning was.”
But the team got to work doing what they do best – researching, asking questions, and iterating based on customer feedback – and created a solution that replaces manual work done on spreadsheets and whiteboards. Emails back and forth with the executives they already spoke with gave them confidence they were on the right track. The founders received several signed letters of interest that allowed them to raise capital to pursue what is now known as Bridgit Bench.
Last summer, in the middle of a global pandemic, Bridgit raised $9.4 million to advance features of Bridgit Bench, add new partner integrations, and overall increase the company’s aggressive pace of technology innovation.
Brodie said that they were fortunate to have started their conversations with investors before the pandemic got really bad.
“Obviously, there was this moment of fear that things would fall off the rails,” the founder remembers. “When we asked Autodesk why they didn’t pull out of the deal, they said that they were betting that even if things slowed down in the next two years, they believed this industry would be digitizing in the future.”
Autodesk, BDC, and Salesforce Ventures, are just a few of the investors that have bet on Bridgit. In total, the company has raised over $21.2 million since they launched in 2014.
Rising to the top in a man’s world
When asked whether the male-dominated construction industry made it difficult for a female-led company like Bridgit to break through, Brodie replied no.
“Both tech and construction are male-dominated,” Brodie said. “What was more of a barrier was the tech world. It has been proven that women don’t get as much funding at the idea phase. So, we were very metrics driven.”
In fact, in Canada, female founders only receive 4% of venture capital. In the U.S., that number drops to just 2.2%.
“We were looking for a pain point to solve and we were just there to help. There were actually no obstacles because we stood out. We helped solve problems,” Brodie said of the company’s experience entering construction.
The industry has since welcomed Brodie and her team with open arms. Last year, Bridgit was named one of Canada’s top growing companies by The Globe and Mail and Brodie was recently recognized on On-Site and SitePartners’ top 40 under 40 in Canadian construction list.
In terms of COVID-19, Bridgit was one of the lucky ones. The company didn’t feel the negative impacts that many other small businesses felt during the pandemic.
“With construction recently restricted and projects delayed, contractors have needed to shift their processes and are demanding the workforce data insights that Bridgit provides,” Brodie said. “We’ve definitely had moments when we felt tired or stuck, but I’ve never had a moment where I wanted to quit. After the customer interviews we did, hearing their actual pain points, we couldn’t walk away from this. We felt determined to solve their problems.”
To recap, Bridgit was not the product of a great brainstorm session, or an ‘a-ha’ moment, or even a personal pain point. Bridgit’s success is the culmination of curiosity, research, and problem solving. Imagine that.