Industry: B2B Software/PropTech
Founding Student Name(s): Andrew McMaster
Brief Description of Solution: Finniva is a streamlined marketplace to source direct materials for real estate developments. We are taking an antiquated process and bringing it into the future of the built world. More visualization. Better decision making. Simpler processes. Optimal lead sourcing for suppliers. We are a two-sided platform that automates many of the current “by-hand” tasks and utilizes data from both developers and the distributors. Finniva creates the possibility for a developer or contractor to intelligently order directly from all their distributors in one place.
What led you to launch this venture? One of my two co-founders, 2018 IU grad Michael Wayne, runs a multifamily development company as well as a door supply company. He experienced this problem first-hand every day and saw a huge opportunity. He reached back out to the Kelley School of Business Honors program to find a founder and we had a beautiful connection from the start. I had been a part of multiple tech startups in the past, but when Mike articulated this pain to me, I knew this was something big if we could execute it correctly.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? We’ve been fortunate enough to celebrate many wins over the 11 months or so on this venture. When we won the Elevate Nexus Southern Regional pitch competition, we all felt the momentum we were gaining. Prior, we had several wins in competitions related to college students, such as winning Crossroads Collegiate and receiving “Best Overall Venture Plan” in the Spine Sweat Experience at IU, but Elevate wasn’t just for college students. A real investment team saw this solution as a scalable, viable, investable business. After that, things got really real for myself and the other two founders. It has forced us to shape up the edges and put 110% of ourselves into building Finniva.
How has your business-related major helped you further this startup venture? I graduated with a degree in both marketing and entrepreneurship and corporate innovation. I also spent a great deal of time learning as a member of the Consulting Workshop at IU. These experiences have been invaluable in the success of Finniva so far. From proper ideation and validation to developing powerful arguments with data to building stories, so much of what I learned I get to utilize every day. I remember being asked to build out a Cap Table and 5-year financial projections for the company and feeling 100% confident I could make that happen. I am forever grateful for the time spent learning at Kelley.
Which business class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? Such an easy question to answer – the Spine Sweat Experience. It is the #1 rated entrepreneurship class in the U.S. for a reason. You are forced to buckle down day one and dig deep into the depths of the startup world every day. My biggest lesson was to DO more. Before taking this class, I had always thought like a corporate leader or a consultant. I’d spend a great deal of time planning and thinking, and then present the possibilities to the team and work together to build a course of action. This class showed me that being in a startup is agile for a reason. Fail fast, bootstrap solutions early, talk to more people, and do less planning, more doing. With this mindset, Finniva can move fast to capture new opportunities and the team can feel more productive and effective.
What business professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Regan Stevenson. He has been both the most effective professor I’ve ever had and the biggest role model of a person I’ve ever met. He taught the Spine Sweat Experience, but the grade for the course came from the investors we pitched to at the end. This allowed Regan to show up to class every day with one goal – help us actually do this thing. He didn’t just teach theories or talk about great entrepreneurs. He pushed us to do more every day. He shared his own personal experiences in entrepreneurship and research, and he worked one-on-one with all of us, both in and out of class to guide us along the startup journey. I still reach out to him for advice after graduation, and probably always will!
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? Aubrey Marcus – Founder of Onnit, philosopher, filmmaker, podcaster, author and just a great human. All I can ask in this world is to be a positive force for good. When it comes to making business decisions and teaching students in business school, that idea can very quickly get lost. I spend a great deal of my free time listening to Aubrey’s podcast. In conversations with others, he consistently breaks down these walls we all put up and collaboratively tells the story of a more beautiful world. It’s this idea of changing the narrative around how we live – economic incentives, how we should show up to the world, how love and business can co-create, etc. – that has motivated me to pursue entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur, we have the responsibility and the power to write our own narratives. Aubrey has been such a powerful force in guiding my exposition with Finniva and will continue to drive me as an entrepreneur and human.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? Finniva has the power to change the way sourcing is done in the real estate industry forever. As we grow, we hope to expand beyond basic direct materials (doors, windows, sinks, appliances, etc.) to encompass the tradespeople who are actually doing the work, the larger selection of build materials, and the storage and delivery of those materials. Our vision for Finniva is to become the market standard for multifamily developers sourcing materials. As we reach this vision or near it, we expect to become a large target for acquisition by some of the big names in the Prop Tech space. When that time comes, so long as there is a mutual vision for the future, we see an exit through acquisition as an incredibly viable ending to our story and an incredible start to an even larger story.
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