Interview with Meelis Ojasild, Co-Founder at Planyard.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Meelis Ojasild : I think all things considered we’ve been lucky so far. Especially considering that my mom works in a hospital.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined Planyard
Meelis Ojasild : I started in marketing agencies and then studied advertising. I did a small stint also in Amazon before moving on to first found my own startup and then joining Pipedrive. I discovered that where I feel myself the most comfortable is somewhere between marketing and product management – product-led growth. Planyard, my current company, is originally the brainchild of one of my co-founders who discovered that there’s a huge cap in construction project management software. Generic solutions such as Asana won’t work and the incumbent are way too complex and expensive. Kind of like the story of Pipedrive vs Salesforce.
How does Planyard innovate?
Meelis Ojasild : We build construction project management software that’s actually built for the project manager (as opposed to management or any other role). I’m personally trying to apply all the lessons learned at Pipedrive when it comes to fast experimentation and product-led growth.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects Planyard and how are you coping?
Meelis Ojasild : For our customers it’s twofold – on the one hand, some commercial construction projects were put on hold but on the other hand there’s more demand for homes with home offices as a lot of new people discovered remote work.
The need for all-in-one construction software from construction companies is there, the pandemic didn’t change that. We grew 25x last year and entered several new European markets.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Meelis Ojasild : When we started, no one took a salary for a long time because we didn’t want to take VC money. I think bootstrapping teaches discipline better – you can’t do everything at once, you have to choose and prioritize. Plus you’re keeping your options open – you don’t commit to the classical path where you either have to sell the company or take it public. I don’t know why people in the startup community have this weird mindset that VC money is always the right way. The correlation actually shows the opposite – the startups taking VC money fail more frequently. Of course, there might be a bias hiding there somewhere as well (maybe founders with a certain character gravitate more towards taking outside money etc).
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Meelis Ojasild : I’ve rediscovered gaming after 15 years. I started playing Call Of Duty Mobile. Now our whole team plays CODM and we’ve even held some team events inside the game. I think gaming has come a long way – it now feels way more social and there’s a lot to learn with games like CODM and Fortnite. You can’t master them in a day or even a month.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Meelis Ojasild : We’re still unbundling Excel – so, our biggest competitor is Excel.
When it comes to incumbents then to some extent we compete with Procore. It’s a classic example where there’s an incumbent that has a wide but too complex offering. Our solution is I think much simpler and we’re focused more on the local European markets. Procore is a US company and directed more towards the English-speaking world. If you’re building an airport, Procore might be a good choice but for homes and apartment buildings it’s an overkill.
Your website ?
Meelis Ojasild : www.planyard.com