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Built with Billd: The Construction Skills Gap with Doug Donovan of Interplay Learning

Published: September 21, 2020
Last updated: April 19, 2022
Read time: < 1


Interplay Learning CEO Doug Donovan joined Chris Doyle, CEO of Billd, on the Built with Billd podcast to explore one of the biggest crises facing the construction industry: the lack of skilled tradesmen in the construction industry.

Doug opens by introducing his software company, Interplay Learning, an online training platform for tradesmen. They primarily focus on virtual reality simulations to create a hands-on experience prior to being in the field. This allows for rapid training of skilled trade workers. 

While working in training for energy auditors, Doug identified a problem with the market and sought a solution. After acknowledging that new graduates only had 1 day of in-the-field training, he knew there was a lack of experience with workers entering the industry. Reflecting on this, he and his team saw the benefit of using simulation tech, similar to the kind used in flight schools, to train workers on dozens of different scenarios and allow them to gain hands-on experience.

The two go on to discuss other causes behind the lack of skilled labor, such as trade workers retiring sooner due to the physical toll of their profession, and the limited supply of new workers entering the industry. Society has drifted in favor of degree programs and away from trade schools, which has benefitted other industries but damaged the construction industry.

Chris and Doug discuss how THE construction industry has finally started to close that gap after decades of acknowledging the issue, and how contractors are every bit as entrepreneurial as tech founders. 

“Business is driven by bodies. It’s one service tech at a time or one install tech at a time- that’s how you drive revenue. There’s so much missed business right now, unfulfilled business right now because of the lack of trained bodies.” Doug Donovan

About Billd: Billd stands alone as a partner that truly champions the subcontractor. Founders Christopher Doyle and Jesse Weissburg, industry veterans in both construction and finance, witnessed the detrimental impact to subcontractors of the longstanding broken payment cycle in construction. Their time in the trades inspired them to launch Billd in 2018, bringing the financial power of Wall Street to the construction job site. Billd's financial and payment products empower subcontractors to bypass project hurdles by providing access to upfront funds to cover their most pressing costs, including materials and labor. Unlike traditional financing outlets, Billd provides flexible lines of credit to accommodate the unpredictability of cash flow in construction, and extends their customers up to 120-day terms to align with industry payment standards. Billd knows traditional credit metrics are poor predictors for risk and has built a variety of industry-specific, proprietary analytic and financing tools to allow subcontractors to stabilize cash flow and more effectively grow their businesses.

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