What’s the inspiration behind TracFlo?
At Turner Construction in New York, I worked on a team that built internal software to fill gaps in existing construction software solutions. We were pioneers in developing and using software to solve construction-specific problems.
We made a lot of mistakes, and sometimes project teams hated what we put out. I would spend hours learning and listening to the needs of these project engineers, superintendents, and others—all while trying to right a ship of a project that had fallen behind in cost overruns. We were thrown into some of the most difficult challenges on some of the most complex projects in NYC, and that was where I fell in love with the intersection of construction and technology.
Turner Construction ultimately decided that software was not a part of their core business. With a letter of recommendation from a VP, I went off to MIT to fan the flames of the spark I’d been given. There I learned about new technologies we could use to advance our industry, and how a startup was the vehicle I needed to deliver innovative solutions to the next generation of builders.
You come from three generations of carpenters. What was it like founding TracFlo with this legacy?
Although I was formally educated, it was important to my father and uncles that I learn the trade business and work with the men in the field. I’ve personally experienced calloused hands from a long day of metal framing.
This furthered my respect and appreciation for the people who put the work in place. It taught me to be a thoughtful servant leader and to understand with humility that tradespeople are the experts on the field. It’s so important that we understand the lives of the men and women who build these skyscrapers.
I’m a builder first and a technologist second. I believe my job is to fundamentally bring new tech tools to bear for the next generation of builders. Having that legacy gives me a deep sense of purpose in the work we do. I’m not simply here to cash in on the construction tech revolution—I’m here to help advance our industry.
You attended Sloan School of Management at MIT. Was this what sparked your interest in founding TracFlo? How did your time at Sloan influence the early years of your company?
Sloan taught me the fundamentals of the innovation culture of MIT. It pushed me to bring all my years of experience in the industry, and combine it with cutting-edge technology to deliver value to the end user. It helped me take a budding idea and transform it into what we know as TracFlo.
Early on, TracFlo was a part of many class assignments. We would often have teams debate on which strategy was best for the company under current market conditions, and these discussions shaped decisions we would ultimately make years later. Over a dozen of my MIT classmates contributed to the development of the project in some way.
How do you handle risk and competition?
Our core business is designed around helping companies manage risk. Risk is a necessary part of innovation—all successful companies take calculated risks to advance what is possible for their end customers.
Competition provides market validation that we’re working on a solution the industry needs. In our case, the market is so large it often feels like two ants attempting to eat a cake.
We have an outstanding team, and ultimately we see our people as our competitive advantage.
What’s your team culture like?
The TracFlo team is a ragtag group of misfits taking on a huge industry. We all have stories of being underestimated. In fact, it’s a crucial part of our interview process. We only want people who have a point to prove.
We’re not Silicon Valley bros—we’re NYC urban tech. We’re brilliant, ambitious, and never take no for an answer. We are a lot like the men and women in the field of construction projects. They are often immigrants, people looking for a second chance, and the trade gives them access to opportunities. That’s why we resonate so well with them.
Why did you decide to raise from the crowd via Republic?
I believe equity crowdfunding is a great equalizer—a way to bypass and disrupt the institutions that gatekeep founders’ access to capital.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while launching your company?
Access to capital as a Black founder.
Do you have any unusual routines or habits?
We’re a part of the Urban Tech Hub at Company Ventures in midtown Manhattan. The building is designed as a vertical integrated tech campus—only tech companies work out of the building. It has an atrium that goes all the way to the roof.
Every time I walk through our lobby, I point to the top as a reminder to never settle for where we are.
Are there any apps or gadgets that you can’t live without?
Spotify. I’m not the kind of person who can work in silence—I don’t know if it's the years I spent on construction sites, but things feel dead when it's too quiet.
My home office has a soundtrack: I need House music whenever I’m working on the company finances, and Hip Hop instrumentals when I’m working on marketing. Every speech I give is preceded by a jam session with whatever my hype song is for that season.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice 5 years ago, what would it be?
You’re right where you need to be. Soak up this moment because you’re learning the things that will change your career and meeting the people who will change your life.