Business In:Brief with Richard Fifita (Veyor)
Co-founder and CEO of Veyor - 2018-present
Richard Fifita is the co-founder and CEO of Veyor, a cloud-based collaborative scheduling platform that digitises construction logistics to create a more competitive and efficient industry. Veyor keeps teams organised, enabling the completion of building projects to be streamlined effectively.
Previously a civil engineer working in construction, Richard saw an industry that was in need of new ways of operating. He believed that "digital" was the way forward. In late 2017, Richard redirected his passion for construction and engineering towards building software applications for the construction industry, and founded Veyor.
Find out more about Richard, his company, his achievements in business, and his advice to others in his field below.
What's your proudest achievement?
As an Engineer, I love turning ideas into reality. Building things is my passion.
When I worked in construction, my proudest accomplishment was building the International Towers at Barangaroo in Sydney with Lendlease. This was an extremely large and complex project, with many engineering feats. We constantly encountered issues, and each time we quickly found a solution, adapted the plan and continued to progress towards the finish line. What we accomplished is now a striking figure in the Sydney CBD that will remain for many years.
This fast problem solving ability in times of crisis has been instrumental in my early success in the world of software development. While I'm still in the early stages of being a software entrepreneur, my proudest achievement to date has been the successful completion of the first version of our product and its successful implementation on a large CBD high rise project. This validated that the concept worked, and that it was not just a theory. Seeing your ideas become validated is highly rewarding.
What's something that you have learned in business that took you by surprise?
How time consuming and difficult hiring and managing people can be.
Not only is it difficult to find the right person that is a technical and cultural fit for your organisation, but once they are in, there is the ongoing challenge of managing people and the team. Establishing and implementing onboarding processes, organising check ins and employee feedback reviews, team planning sessions and re-evaluating systems as the team continues to grow and so on.
In any growing organisation, this role becomes larger and larger over time. Currently, we share this responsibility across the three co-founders. However, when we reach a certain size, then we will need more dedicated help in this area. I do however believe that the co-founders should always have their fingers on the pulse of hiring and team planning as it ensures that all people are aligned on the company vision and culture, which is set by the co-founders.
How do you plan on growing your business in the near future?
We've identified a set of additional features that we believe will continue to widen our user base in the construction industry, but also make our system more attractive to building asset owners for managing their day to day operations.
Currently, our system is used only in the construction phase of a project, but our plan is to build out a holistic site management tool that can also be used by Facility Managers to manage their operations as well. By covering the construction and commercial real estate sectors, this significantly increases our addressable market and growth opportunities.
What other business leader do you most admire and why?
I admire his ability to go into new sectors and constantly challenge the status quo, finding new ways to operate and out-innovate the existing operators. His success with SpaceX and Tesla are a testament to that.
His resilience and self belief is also highly admirable. He had poured all his money into both SpaceX and Tesla, was on the brink of bankruptcy, borrowing money from friends to cover his rent, and then secured a NASA contract and financing lifeline just before he had completely run out of cash.
The majority of people do not like to live on the edge and test their limits. I admire people who do this and constantly push the boundaries because that's the only way you can change the status quo.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
"A superstar team is more effective than a team of superstars".
We pay close attention to culture, as well as ability, when making any hiring decisions. Culture is critical to the success of any organisation, and when you are a startup with a small team, it's critical that everyone can work well together.
Startups are hard, so you need to know the people you are recruiting will be able to work with you in the good times and the bad. I believe that's the sign of any healthy organisation, where everyone feels a sense of shared purpose and will rally together in times of need.
What advice would you pass on to someone starting out in your area?
Don't start a business with randoms. Your co-founders should be people you know, respect and trust. Starting a business is a high-stress, high-risk process so you need to have the right support and balance of skills to share the burden.
My co-founders and I come from different backgrounds in Construction, Engineering, Accounting, Investment and Funds Management. Whenever one of us has an idea, we review it together and usually find we each come with different perspectives that help to iterate and further strengthen the concept. Being able to bounce ideas and critique each other is critical in ensuring you have all bases covered and reach the best resolution. When you are in the early stages of a startup, you are constantly problem solving, so it's important to have good people to attack these challenges together with.
If you'd like to be featured in Business In:Brief, feel free to email us.