March 2023 Newsletter

Wed 15 March 2023

Shovels Mar 2023 Newsletter


Here's the special fundraising update email and other updates since last time.

  • We have raised $610,000 so far, with more likely to come in the next few weeks! (Timing likely will be delayed by the Silicon Valley Bank failure and related malaise.) This money is in the bank, so it's official.
  • I'm still taking a few very strategic fundraising calls. We don't need more money, but I'm receptive to any investors who could help us find product-market fit.
  • Speaking of product-market fit, that's top of mind now and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Expect this to be the central topic of these newsletters going forward!
  • And to that end, I completely rewrote our website a few weeks ago. It still needs some color, but I'm happy with the copy. 
  • We released a Green Contractor Directory prototype!


I'm pleased to share that our lead investor is Zach Coelius from Coelius Capital. He's an ideal lead for us. I've known of Zach for years. We've been in the same circles but didn't really connect until late last year after I attended one of his dinners in San Francisco. 

Zach knows the super early stages as well as anybody. He'll be a great sounding board as we come up against critical decisions and can help us raise funds to accelerate growth if needed. We're delighted to have his support!

The other angel investors, whom I won't name directly but can describe as old friends, new friends, former bosses, and fans of my personal blog, were the first to sign and send their checks. 

Luka and I are humbled and grateful -- and ready to get back to work :) 


We continue to learn. The permit and contractor data landscape is evolving rapidly, and we are a player in this space. The other companies are aware of us and reacting to our presence. 

One thing I'm good at, perhaps because I enjoy doing it, is getting to know my neighbors. I like to be friendly with my business neighbors, too. I want to know everyone in the market. Not just know their names, but meet them, exchange messages, and (try to) be friends. It doesn't always work, but when it does, it leads to profit. 

Businesses that look like competitors can turn out to be partners, customers, or lead to friendly mergers. This has happened at every company I've run. It happened again recently with Shovels. I'm really happy about this development because it opens up a big opportunity for us in the contractor data market.

Contractor data is what I said we'd do in the early days of Shovels. Late last year, though, I became very excited about permit data. I saw a huge opportunity there. I still see it. I'd reach out or be introduced to potential customers under the pretense of contractor data and discover that what they really wanted was permits. It's a huge opportunity, but I don't think it's ours to get. We don't have enough value to add there; the incumbents will meet this need well and soon enough. 

Contractor data is a different story. It's underserved, and we have a tremendous opportunity right now to fill the void. I describe the four segments on our website: software, climate, finance, and builders. I'll write more detail about all four in the coming months.

Coming Up

We have a very exciting product roadmap! We're going to expand our little green contractor prototype. We're going to make all of the San Francisco Bay Area available; this demo currently has only 500 records.  

We're going to release an API (application programming interface -- a way for computer programmers to easily access this data) and put contractor landing pages up on our website. 

Next quarter, we're going to layer on additional datasets to make the contractor information even more insightful. I'll share more details on these data layers soon.

In short, we're going deep on contractor data and we're starting in the SF Bay Area. I'll share more next month when more products are released!