We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Austin MacNab”, Co-Founder at the Iowa- USA based start-up “Digmaa”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
Digmaa enhances the overall experience of the building process for all involved. Builders will be able to maximize their exposure to the public while having simple tools to connect with their clients for scheduling, budgeting, and updating their clients via photos/videos throughout the building phases.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
We started our company in late 2013, we are slowly getting out of soft beta now with some live, and even paying clients.
Right now we are working towards our officialy public launch although we are open now to the public without any huge outgoing marketing campaigns.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
Our goal is to focus on home builders across america as a starting point, but mainly in our Des Moines, Iowa metro area. We feel getting influencers to our site (people involved in the homes building process) and buyers will create more demand for the builders to use Digmaa.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
I met my partner when we were looking to build homes locally together and through family. I just got done building a home, and thought there could be a much better way to close the gap between the builder and buyer so we went that route and Digmaa was created.
Austin Mac Nab- Co-Founder handles marketing and the operations of Digmaa.
Mana Thongvanh- Handles all back end operations, and helps with marketing.
Zack Songkham- He is our IT guru.
Bekah Kennelly- Marketing/promo
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
We 100% have other softwares that we will be compared to, but we do one thing no one else does, and that is we don’t make the home building process private between builder/buyer only on a behind the scenes system. We allow the builders to communicate, with the buyer through videos and photos (other simple tools as well budget/calendar) but allow the public to watch the build as well.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
Since we just got out of beta launch we have local builders, and even some that have found us through social networks using us, we see growth being more aggressive over the upcoming months as we market, and push our software above and beyond out beta testers.
One of our biggest milestones is getting our first paying client, but being asked to
use our software for the 2015 HomeShowExpo here in Des Moines, Iowa.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
BuilderTrend, Co-Construct, and BuildTools are the ones we always get compared to. But those are softwares to really manage the building process for the builders when it comes to scheduling subs etc.
Like I mentioned above, we are not private, those above are. Our focus is not to manage the build, but allow individuals to #FollowTheBuild from start to finish while providing simple client facing tools, and maximizing the builders exposure.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest obstacles is all three of us have Full time jobs, and meeting each night after a full time job for over a year what difficult. But we powered through the last 12 months, and we believe people what it bad, but who truly wants it bad enough? We do, and our will to push the long hours has proven that. Soon we will all be full time!
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
I think the main thing is the Social side of what we are trying to accomplish, most builders if you look hard enough online really don’t have a huge online presence and all there items are across several avenues, while we allow them to have one home, and to help their buyers have the best home builder experience.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
Simple, we have something that is not out there currently, and we found a problem, and fixed it in a big way through our personal experiences.
Plus the crew we have all are true entrepreneurs trapped in a current position because that has helped us become who we are today!
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
When we succeed, I see us getting into other areas of the home building process and giving tools to realtors, contractors, architects,
loan officers, and anyone else involved down the line. These can be good add on features.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
We built out company of my personal experience building a home, it was a nightmare and felt like a part time job the whole process, I took 500+ photos myself and 30 trips to the job site just to cure more curiosity of what is next, our how the process is coming along.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
We have learned that individuals are still getting used to the idea, that tons of people do a lot of research online, and most people have no clue where to start when it comes to building a home.
Personally I have learned that patience at times is something that is needed when we hit speed bumps, and I can’t allow that to put us off track of our vision to succeed.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
If I had to guess, it would be keep our site at high speeds, since we are photo/videos/document driven not to mention a social side to us I think we will have to overcome of the issues of scaling the size of our servers etc (which costs $$$).
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
The benefits for the builder: It will allow them to maximize their exposure to the public, and keep their clients off their backs when it comes to constant updates via photos/videos. This will help the buyers in a huge way as well as they can archive the project at the end and use photos/videos for future remodels/memories!
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Believe it or not a lot of the current people on our site have found us through social media, and local builders through us doing the old fashion cold calling to get them to beta with us.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Our target customers are home builders/remodelers, and soon to be small community banks.
Our goal is to also attack the influencers we call them which is everyone NOT the builder. As they here about us, know what we do they will start telling builders they should use us.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Again a lot will be coming from Social Media and our email campaigns we will be starting in the near future.
With our 30 day free trial (no credit card required) it is a no brainer to at least give us a try to see how we can help them building better relationships with their clients.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
The ones we have tested with have said it was easy to use, does not take long at all to get the basics down.
One buyer even said…” I had my baby and been out of office but really enjoy getting the photo updates at home and when i was in the hospital!”
20. How are you going to scale?
We are going to use the current builders we have as proof of concept, and focus on local builders first to create content on our site, to allow future users to understand quickly what others are doing. As we hit certain milestones, we reinvest the money we are making back
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
I would say they always compare us to our competitors, but again we are different. If anything it would be able to have certain features
our competitors have that we don’t now.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
I would say yes, but not something we are focused on today. Although we do have some companies out of Canada looking into us. We plan on staying in the states for now, until we get enough momentum to expand globally, but very open to INT users if they find us through social media etc.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
There is 300k builders in the USA, we just want 1% of the market (easier said than done of course). We plan on achieving our goals one
milestone at a time with building a true proof of concept locally, and spilling over states lines soon enough.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We currently are not looking to hire. We have 4 individuals as of now, and we will we need to do the grunt work now before getting anyone else involved.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
I would say we will be down the road, as we expand and need more capital to do so. The best place to contact me on something like that is
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
If you say you want it bad, you truly have to want it bad enough. So when you think you are tired etc, and you can actually do something to help progress your new startup, but want to sit and rest. Just remember there is many others out there that will get up and do it, because they want it bad enough.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Find a problem, solve a problem and that alone is a start to something that can be huge!