Tell us a little bit about the company Jetbuilt and how it got started.
I had built up my AV Integration company over the prior 12 years. My father was a General Contractor, and I had grown up in that environment- going on consultations, estimating the projects, running the jobs. So running an AV company like a “real” contractor was very native to me. I was surprised early on that there were not good tools for us Mac users for estimating and proposals. Like most others, I used Excel and Word for a while, but eventually built my own cloud-based system. This was in 2007. I thought “I will make something quick and easy until someone builds a solid solution that is more refined than my own”.
That day and that product never came. As my company grew to 10 employees, I finally figured that I had outgrown my system so I began to explore and buy many of the Windows based applications. They were all terrific products in their own ways, but were incredibly slow at simply getting a quote put together and a proposal in the hands of my clients. By the middle of 2014 I finally figured that if someone else wasn’t going to do it, I should step up. I hired a small team of developers and AV folks, and we went to work. We built Jetbuilt to answer to the one thing that causes the most pain and waste of time- Estimating and Proposals.
What does the Jetbuilt software do?
Jetbuilt allows users to estimate a substantial project in minutes, not hours. Just today another user told me that he had also been looking for the last 18 months for a faster and smarter estimating solution. He said that in FOUR MINUTES he created a Jetbuilt account, priced a $15k project, and exported a PDF with a beautiful cover page, line item details and much more. We deliver a far more elegant proposal package than most integrators are taking the time to develop- with “about us”, and “previous projects” pages pre-populated. Simply swap our starter info for your own, and suddenly you are presenting your company at a completely different caliber to your client.
Why an Estimating app for AV integrators? Isn’t there already Excel, D-Tools, Bid Magic, etc? What sets Jetbuilt apart?
Those other tools are really great. We describe D-Tools as a very complex and sophisticated 747 airliner. It is perfect for getting you from L.A. to London overnight. But Jetbuilt is a Ducati Motorcycle that is far better suited to get you to the grocery store for Milk. Many of our users are D-Tools users who estimate projects with us, then bring a SOLD project into their solution for drawings and management.
Since most integrators estimate 2-5 projects to WIN 1, why spend 4-8 hours on each? We get that down to minutes. Then once it is sold, you have a lot of options to run your project. One tool does NOT need to do everything for you. That would be like a carpenter using a Skil saw for everything. You need Drills, Hammers, and more to get the job done. Use the best and most efficient tool for each part of the job.
So if an integrator enjoys meeting potential clients for a site consultation and the project process but despises the proposal process how does this bridge that gap and make that part faster and simpler.
Yes, there is nobody that really LIKES estimating. Some people are really good at it, but it isn’t anyone’s HOBBY. We have users telling us that they spin up the project on the WAY HOME from the consultation on their iPad. (assuming someone else is driving them of course:) Jetbult allows you to focus on the fulfilling aspects of our craft- helping clients realize their dreams through the initial conversation, then installing it. Running spreadsheets all day was never topping their list when they wanted to live in the AV world. Jetbuilt reduces that.
Obviously a great presentation is important, but aren’t clients mostly concerned with the price?
I would say there is equal value there. I know of many many projects that I won because my presentation package made the other bidders proposals look childish. Some email with photos and cutsheets dragged in, and various typing out of explanations of the systems. Once the client would forward it to a boss, now the emails do what all forwarded emails do- text turns green and pink and indented. By the time the decision maker gets it, mine would be the only one that made any sense to select.
Price is one thing, but in 2016 presentation accounts for FAR MORE than it used to in the process.
Putting together a $100k proposal is fine. But what happens when a client has a $50k budget but wouldn’t reveal that, and you just shot yourself out of the running?
Learning how to “read” your clients is an art, that is true. They will often tell you all the things they like, and have seen elsewhere. So you get the feeling that they are ready to spend money to get there. But you look at their furniture, their cars (I know, that is discriminating), But our job is to say “Hey this guy might also like Ferraris, but he drives a Camry, so it is likely that he doesn’t want to spend $10k for a stereo tube amp just because he said he loves the best sound possible.
With Jetbuilt you can quickly generate “gold, silver and bronze” packages. Design the top package, then duplicate, and start swapping for mid-range equipment, then repeat. If you can’t dig a budget out of your client, at least quickly give them the options they need to help get you in the universe they are in.
You have installed many systems for both large construction projects and small projects with a single owner making decisions. What differences and approaches do you take in the sales process for these?
Usually in a large construction project there is a clear scope and budget established, perhaps from a consultant. So that is one clear difference. You may be working for the architect, or general contractor, but I am constantly trying to reach out to the end user in these cases. As a design/build company I know that I can give them FAR more value than if I have to bid off their sheet. I try to make a direct relationship with the owner of the project and circumvent the process. I have won many of these. But then I am a disruptor. I believe that we are in a NEW environment, and many of these dated models should evolve.
There is great value to a fair bidding environment, but the model of a consultant designing a million dollar system only to have it cost twice that to get it done simply is not sustainable.
In a small project environment obviously I take that same approach. I fast forward through the weeds of preconceived concepts to get to the heart of what the client actually WANTS and NEEDS. They tell you they want a Sonos system. Fine, but what does that mean? They want to play music from their phone in every room? Great- maybe a Sonos it is, but if they also need this and that, then maybe there are better option. discovery is an art.
What may be next for Jetbuilt? Does this software translate for other industries? Do you envision growing this and adding more features?
Jetbuilt is focused on the AV sector. We have a few people in other trades using the platform for proposals, but we believe that we can best help contractors and manufacturers in the AV community by staying focused here.
We have a lot of ideas, but we are a lot like Apple- we don’t talk about them until they are just about ready to use- so stay tuned 🙂
We are a California software company with a twist. Our founder is a Grammy nominated studio engineer and award winning web designer who has also designed and integrated commercial AV systems throughout the U.S. We are a strong and diverse team with a century of background in the AV and Tech industries.