The Genesis of Innovation

Illustration 85364426 © Scorpionce —

As innocuous as it might sound (believe me, there’s a lot more to it than simply this) the genesis of one of the most transformative innovations now sweeping the home building and renovation sector, was when a builder said to me “Hux, I just want to be happy, is that too much to ask?”

I didn’t think it was, and I said so.

This was during the late summer, early in 2017, during my epic research journey with builders, trades, suppliers, home building and renovating consumers.

The builder in question, let’s call him Pete for the purpose of this re-telling, and I were seated on the steps from a verandah of a house we were renovating. The steps lead down to a lawn and garden. We were having lunch early on a brutally hot afternoon.

The sandwiches were a bit soggy, the salad in them had conceded to the heat. But the pies were still hot (naturally) and the sports drink, which has less to do with sport than the sugar in them, were cold and, smiling at Pete while thinking on his complaint, I got brain freeze.

My face contorted. Probably resembling someone having an aneurysm and Pete, looking concerned said “wow, I didn’t think it was that big a statement!”

I regained my composure and said “it isn’t, but let me show you something”.

I whipped out my mobile and showed him the very first wire frames of what I’d been playing around with, just early UI thinking (after months of interviewing and modelling and endless hours spent compiling feedback) on an idea I thought could one day be invaluable for builders.

He said to me “nah, nah mate, I’m not into computers”.

I laughed and punched him in the arm and said “don’t sound like a luddite”.

He asked me “what’s a luddite?”

I said “a builder who pretends he doesn’t get tech”.

He snapped “I’m not a luddite”.

I said “exactly, but you use a mobile phone for absolutely everything don’t you? Don’t you!” Knowing full well that he had dozens of apps and used them with ease and confidence as much as he did messaging his kids.

He sniggered “pretty much, yep”.

I said “then look at these and just tell me what you think. No harm, no obligation. And if none of it interests you then I’ll never mention it again, I promise.”

Thankfully we were sitting in the shade, but my shirt was saturated. It had been a physical morning on site. It was silent but for the din of cicadas as Pete looked intensely at several wire frames.

He’d pause and ask me questions, he asked a lot of questions. But mostly he hummed.

I wouldn’t call Pete grumpy, actually just the opposite. But he has a certain middle-aged guy I’m-stuck-in-my-ways type defiance about him. Anyway, he kept humming and occasionally he chuckled under his breath.

The rest of the site crew were stirring from the break, trashing their scraps and drink bottles and loping in the heat back to the grind, resigned to the inevitability of another weight shedding afternoon working in 40+ degree heat. Paying the bills, living the dream!

Anyway, Pete kept on humming.

After maybe fifteen minutes (I didn’t want to interrupt him), he looked across at me and punched me in the shoulder.

I thought, what’s that for?

Then he smiled his standard Cheshire cat grin and said to me “now this would make me happy”, wobbling my Smartphone about in his hand.

Right then. I knew there was a solution and I thought I’d found the key to it.

Then, I realised that we’d stumbled on how to help make builders happy. Then I realised that we were on the right course to solve one of the industry’s biggest problems.

Being, how to help make small builders better builders without a desktop or an enterprise IT solution in sight and without trying to tell them how to build.

And not just that, but how to keep builders informed and aware of all that is going on with their projects, easily, simply, natively, and keeping their clients informed and happy too, so that they’d pay their bills with a smile (not a grimace).

It was then I discovered that in the building game, the key to happiness (client and the builder, and their team too) is simply a function of awareness and communication; but in abundance.

That and the ability to give builders back maybe two hours a day so they can spend more time with their family, not wasting it trying to reconcile timesheets.

Life’s all about priorities. Getting them in the right order is how to make people happy and it’s our absolute focus.

Who’d have thought the simple desire to be happy could be the genesis of the technology we’ve created. It was. It always will be.

© Tony Huxley 2020, Trabr Limited

Technology advocate. Productivity zealot. Property fanatic. Innovation addict. Building devotee. Brand buff. And now it’s all intersected in Trabr Limited.