Jeff Booth, the CEO of BuildDirect, joined me for dinner late last week. BuildDirect was one of the first investments I led after joining Difference Capital, a venture capital firm focused on private technology companies.
BuildDirect has built the most promising logistics network for the efficient and cost effective delivery of heavy goods.
And they are not getting nearly enough attention for the impressive advancements in machine learning they have applied to this challenge.
We were discussing how our thesis on retail disruption has played out, recalling several conversations over the years. The recent evidence of this thesis evolving over the last few months was clear. Michael Kors announced it would close many of its 125 stores. Payless Shoes filed for bankruptcy protection. Gymboree just missed a June 1st interest payment. Credit Suisse recently issued a report forecasting 20-25% U.S. malls to close by 2022.
The online shift is accelerating the bricks and mortar decline in sub-sector after sub-sector. First it was books, then electronics, then apparel, and now even groceries.
Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius. -Peter Thiel, “Zero to One”.
I stopped mid-sentence in my conversation with Jeff. I realized that investors, partners and acquirers will finally look for the next disruption wave – and it was clear that their attention will focus on the heavy goods delivery optimization problem.
And they’ll turn to BuildDirect.
It took plenty of courage and persistence for BuildDirect to get here. It took a bold zero-to-one vision. In Canada, the technology ecosystem tends to be overly focused on niches – with the ultimate intention of building a company to be acquired by Microsoft/Intel/Salesforce/Google. It’s important to also have several great companies like Shopify and BuildDirect think bigger.
We need more of it.
Below: Jeff Booth Wins BC Technology Person of the Year Award
Disclosure: Difference Capital is an investor In BuildDirect