Nov 30, 2022
// this week deserves a different format – a love letter 💌
Dear architects, dear archi-founders:
I think it is time I write you how I really feel about you. You deserve to know.
For the past 4 years, we have spoken a lot, done tech products and market entries, and just crazy successful venture projects together.
Over this time, you taught me so many things about you and about business. When you chose to become founders, and chose us as one of your partners, so that together we could build iconic tech firms in AEC – in 3D, design, renovation, energy efficiency and generative AI – it’s been a great ride already.
You were kind to share with me what your previous life’s in architecture taught you.
With which you allowed me a window into your world, at the intersection of architecture meets entrepreneurs meets coder.
Which made me fall in love with you.
Architects, here’s 10 things I love about you – and why you make great founders:
- 1/ Your product mind: 740k+ of you and folks in your archi-firms are coders. You worked on 3D your whole life. Your whole profession is about figuring out what the users of the buildings you design will need, and formulating the right questions to find out. If you get requirements wrong, your designs fail epically. You are natural product managers, and I freaking love it.
- 2/ Your founding DNA: Architecture is among the longest tails in business. 1.6M architects working in 607’000 firms across the globe. The largest player (Gensler) has 0.3% market share. Founding is in your blood.
- 3/ The chip on your shoulder: Architecture is a grind. On average, your employers earn $184k+ per year selling your hours. And they keep $105k of that for themselves. You realize that your hours don’t scale – so you learnt the appetite to scale something bigger than yourself. Your own venture.
- 4/ Your work ethic and results mindset: You are easily among the hardest working founders I meet. Architecture practice has taught you well. Hard deadlines, short on staff, never any budget for anything. And yet you deliver. Like a great founder.
- 5/ Your abstraction ability: You get the big picture. Your work always starts with a vision. It can never be bigh enough for you. They teach you to dream big early on. Which makes me love you.
- 6/ Your attention to detail: And yet, somehow you always manage to sink your teeth into the nittiest and grittiest details – cause without those details, your design will not be built. Founder life.
- 7/ Your pragmatism: One of the hardest things to get right in venture is to take pragmatic decisions. Architecture taught you this skill from day 1. Your boss asked you to time-box and budget your tasks. Constraints are everywhere. And yet you needed to deliver. Finding pragmatic solutions is the only way to survive as an architect. And as a founder.
- 8/ Your natural storytelling: All the constraints you face force you to find ways to keep the people around you motivated. I love that you know how to present coherent narratives that make people follow you in spite of constraints. It serves you well in hiring and fundraising.
- 9/ Your messiah complex: Nobody puts it better than Dimitrie: “We are partly delusionally convinced that the world revolves around the stuff we build and the plans we design. A useful defect to have in order to even consider doing a tech startup.” Couldn’t agree more. Love it.
- 10/ Your fast learning: You know you are not perfect. Who is? When you found, some of the more common learnings among architects are to delegate better, communicate more precisely, and operationalize everything. The best of you pick it up quickly, and become superhero founders.
I learnt all of this from some of the best of you, who practiced in archi-firms and went on to become founders. I want to thank you all for taking me along on your ride, and being your partners. You taught me a lot, and I can’t wait to build bigger and better alongside you.
Thank you, architects !
Your biggest and staunchest fan as you become founders.
P.S. special shoutouts to a few of my most favorite archi-founders:
David at ArchDaily
Alex and Justus at Baupal
Jasper at Cutr
Lasse at Hananas (stealth)
Guy at Mattoboard
Jai, Manoj and Raghu at Prolance
Stan at Rayon
Dimitrie and Matteo at Speckle
Altaf at Snaptrude
Anneli at Tangible
Marc at Welcome
Number of architects globally – best estimate