Lauren Lake; Toronto; @gobridgit
Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?
I’m the co-founder of a construction technology company called Bridgit, alongside my business partner, Mallorie Brodie. We build software for construction sites to help them manage the back-and-forth communications with their teams. Anyone on a construction team can use it: contractors, developers, subcontractors, architects.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I studied civil structural engineering at the University of Western Ontario.
What was your first paying gig out of school?
In school, I worked on construction sites, and that experience later acted as inspiration for my co-founder— Mallorie Brodie—and I . After school, Bridgit was my first paying gig.
What was your BIG break? How did you land it?
I think Next 36 [an incubator for entrepreneurs] was my big break. That’s where I met Mallorie and where we started Bridgit. Before that program, I was interested in starting a company, but I didn’t come from a business background, and I didn’t know how I would get there. Getting into the program really opened new doors for me, and it was something I didn’t expect to happen!
Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?
In the Next 36 program, we did a lot of research with some construction sites. It helped us figure out what the product would do, and what would be most useful to our customers.
That research somehow made it up to the chief technology officers at one of the largest construction companies in the country. He was interested in learning more, and set up a meeting with us. Driving to that meeting was an amazing feeling.
Name one piece of career advice you always give.
Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, or who have very different knowledge and skills from your own.
What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?
I think, in general, people are taught that whatever you study in school should be the path you continue on. But you can learn so much, and your career can take you in so many different places. In my program, we didn’t talk much about entrepreneurship. But here I am.
Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?
You know, there aren’t many women in either construction, so people assume we’ve faced significant barriers. But Mallorie and I spent a lot of time on construction sites, doing research before we built that Bridgit app. By doing that, we were able to show our audience that we really know what we’re talking about, and that we can help them.