We talked to Harri Majala, founder of GBuilder, about the customer journey in property development, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Harri Majala: Finland has been, especially northern parts, quite low on COVID cases, but it certainly has created challenges for our family of five. But I guess people learn to live with any condition after some time.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded GBuilder.
Harri Majala: I actually have a degree in Economics from Helsinki School of Economic and work in finance, for example, in Stockexhange. In 2005 I returned home to Oulu and started working in our family construction company, which runs for over 10years. GBuilder was founded to solve our own everyday problems. I saw that you could not solve construction industries problems with multiple “point solutions”. We needed a more holistic (and BIM-based) solution in order to solve the problems in the long term. And since there were no solutions available (still isn’t apart from GBuilder), we decided to create our own GBuilder.
How does GBuilder innovate?
Harri Majala: We are always looking into the latest technology, and I encourage the team to push beyond the current ways of solving problems. One very good example is that we are the first ones to release Unity’s cloud-based rendering service for all our visualizations. This is already creating huge interest in construction companies and also in all the players in the visualization space. (We are able to create visualizations in real-time, without any prior manual rendering or work.)
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Harri Majala: Corona, of course, had the first negative impact on raising funding and getting new customers. But we were lucky enough to have VCs that trusted us and customers that really believed in us, and we were still almost doubling our revenue in 2020.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Harri Majala: We were still almost doubling our revenue in 2020, which meant that we were hiring people rather than cutting back. In this, I consider us very lucky. These scenarios are never easy for anyone involved.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Harri Majala: We saw that our customers, some of the biggest builders /developers in Scandinavia, focused even more on our solution and the added value we brought more. This also accelerated integrations and improved our customer relationships and sales.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Harri Majala: We, like so many others, were able to get support from our government. This was mainly in R&D grants and loans. This help was, of course, very helpful.
Your final thoughts?
Harri Majala: There is always a silver lining in everything. And we see that if something good came out of this epidemic, it is the fact that the entire construction industry is moving the digitalisation from “nice to have” into “must-have” category.