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Welcome to another episode of Category Visionaries — the show that explores GTM stories from tech’s most innovative B2B founders. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Chloe Smith, CEO & Co-Founder of Mercator AI, an AI-powered business development platform for commercial general contractors that has raised $4.5 Million in funding.

Here are the most interesting points from our conversation:

  • Background and Inspiration: Chloe comes from a background in data strategy and marketing, not directly from construction, but her family’s involvement in the industry piqued her interest and led to the inception of Mercator AI.
  • Cross-Industry Application: Although her background is not in construction, Chloe’s experience in data strategy and marketing allowed her to identify and address a gap in the construction industry, demonstrating the value of cross-industry application of skills.
  • Foundational Shifts: Mercator AI helps construction businesses identify early project opportunities by tracking land development, which allows their clients to engage earlier and more effectively in potential projects.
  • Navigating Industry Challenges: Chloe discusses the challenges of transitioning from other sectors to construction tech, highlighting the importance of understanding and adapting to industry-specific dynamics.
  • Focus on Business Development: The platform is designed to ‘force multiply’ the efforts of business developers in the construction industry by streamlining the research and pursuit process, fundamentally changing how contractors approach new opportunities.
  • Early Struggles and Adjustments: Reflecting on the initial challenges, Chloe emphasizes the importance of resilience and adaptability, sharing an anecdote about early investor interactions that shaped the company’s trajectory.



Leverage Diverse Backgrounds for Innovation:

Chloe's transition from data strategy and marketing into construction tech illustrates the value of applying diverse professional experiences to solve industry-specific problems. For B2B tech founders, exploring how skills from one industry can address gaps in another may unlock unique opportunities.

Focus on Early Market Engagement:

Mercator AI's success in helping contractors identify early project opportunities underscores the importance of early market engagement. Founders should consider how their solutions can help clients get involved in projects at the earliest stages, potentially altering the competitive landscape.

Adapt Tools to Industry Needs:

Chloe adapted business development tools from other sectors to fit the construction industry's unique requirements. Founders should think about how existing tools can be customized to meet the specific needs of their target industries, enhancing relevance and utility.

Utilize Feedback for Product Development:

The transition from a rough concept to a market-fit product at Mercator AI was heavily influenced by investor feedback. Founders should actively seek and incorporate such feedback to refine their products and align with market needs.

Build Resilience Through Challenges:

Chloe's story of initial rejection and subsequent pivots highlights the need for resilience in the startup journey. Founders should be prepared to face and learn from rejections and failures, using them as stepping stones towards building a more robust business model.

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