Tracy Young, co-founder and CEO of PlanGrid, is something of a nonconformist: she's a female founder of a company serving the construction industry. PlanGrid empowers construction engineers to digitally store drawings and plans on mobile device. Tracy's company PlanGrid is now the largest worldwide repository of digitals construction plans, used on 350,000 projects and hosting over 34 million plans and drawings on the cloud.
So where does Tracy look to for entrepreneurial inspiration? She watches a lot of nature and animal videos. It might be tempting to double down on the kitten videos right about now, but you should catch Tracy's full presentation first - otherwise, you might miss the specific animals to keep an eye on. She joined the Startup Grind Global Conference to share the wisdom she gathered from two small furry animals: beavers and honey badgers.
Why Founders Should be Like Beavers
“Beavers work hard and are patient," Tracy kicked off - it was her first offered and most important advice, as building a company requires endless dedication, and it's rare that things turn out the way you want them to as quickly as you want them to.
“Beavers do not complain and are creative," she adds. Founders need to use their creativity to deal with limited time and resources. Yet despite the focus on efficiency, she caution to be “creative about the problem you are trying to solve” and not re-invent the wheel. Unsatisfied with the way things are? Don’t complain - do something about it.
Why Founders Should be Like Honey Badgers
Honey badger are brave. They eat poisonous snakes. They find amazing ways to survive. As founders, Tracy says, we must develop an acute survival instinct. Her company is growing fast, now counting now 200 employees, but every step in scaling presents existential challenges that need to be overcome. Without a honey badger's survival instinct, she wouldn't have made it.
Honey badger are small and do not hesitate to challenge much larger animals like lions. For founders looking to disrupt major industries, sometimes that means being ruthless: Tracy mentions honey badgers will even target lions, biting especially sensitive parts of the predator's body to create openings for attack. As a startup, nearly all your competitors are much larger than you - for now. As a honey badger, you are quick, and assertive - so play to your strengths.
How do You Find the Right People to Hire for Your Company?
Tracy’s advice: “Look for people who remind you of animals you love and you find the right people!”
She asserts that founders need to solve a problem they are passionate about. “We are crazy in love with construction workers!” That passion, coupled with the inspiration drawn from beavers and honey badgers, has allowed her to build a fast growing company. “When we face a problem, I think about the beaver and the honey badger”.
A last bit of wisdom she got from beavers: “Iterate and improve”. More specifically, “admit your fault and your weaknesses” as a founder. This admission opens the door for growth and improvement. Your personal growth will percolate into the company’s increased success.
So -- what's your favorite animal?