Technology

Housing's Future: A Young Woman Pioneer's Story Of 'Why'

Here's a verbatim, candid look at one of the housing community's bright young start-up stars, and what's driving her team and her to take on the challenges of housing affordability.

Technology

Housing's Future: A Young Woman Pioneer's Story Of 'Why'

Here's a verbatim, candid look at one of the housing community's bright young start-up stars, and what's driving her team and her to take on the challenges of housing affordability.

March 11th, 2022
Housing's Future: A Young Woman Pioneer's Story Of 'Why'
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[Editor's note: On the Mall in Washington, D.C., a week ago, we happened – in our paces – on an event in the garden outside one of the Smithsonians. Briefly, it was "a forward-looking celebration of the power of women and girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) to shape a better world. To kick off the month, the Smithsonian will present “#IfThenSheCan - The Exhibit,” a collection of 120 statues of women in STEM."  At The Builder's Daily, since this past October, we've had the honor of guest contributions of Candice Delamarre, a co-founder of an early-phase start-up Kit Switch. Kit Switch first hit our radar as a category-class winner in the third annual Hack-A-House competition, hosted by Salt Lake City-based Ivory Innovations, a division of the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business. In Candice's candid story below, we celebrate the power she and her teammates can ignite to shape housing's future. We recognize that the Kit Switch team's talent and purpose stand on the shoulders of women who've impacted the housing community and its value always, and we're grateful forever for that. Here, what follows, is Candice's story of "The Why."]

Source: Smithsonian, courtesy of IF/THEN

Thank you for joining along in my mini-entrepreneurship series. I am very grateful for the opportunity to reflect with you on Kit Switch’s journey in The Builder's Daily.

In the first episode, we used the word “opportunity” to describe the timeliness of our solution and the team-solution fit. In the second installment, I explained how our team made sure that the opportunity was real, by analyzing and properly sizing the market. I followed with an explanation of the product and how this tangible product, aligned with industry trends in construction, serves the vision and solution we provide for flexible reuse of our buildings. Last month, I explained the important business considerations that go around the product offering, from design and manufacturing to sales and marketing.

I often get asked why

In light of these past articles and what you now know of my journey with Kit Switch, I thought it would make sense to focus this last article on my personal motivation with Kit Switch and my take on entrepreneurship. I often get asked why… Why did I decide to work on Kit Switch? There are many rational reasons why, which I explained in the previous articles and just synthesized for you above. Those are all important. They probably even are the bare minimum for anyone to embark on such a journey. The math nerd in me would say they are necessary conditions, but not sufficient conditions.

To me, there’s one last reason, a lot less rational, a lot more emotional. I would call it the mission. Or, in other words, it's this sense of duty towards impact. What excites me about my work every day is that it requires courage to implement radical innovation, and dedication to serve a social purpose. I do not find satisfaction in cultivating small changes within existing structures, nor would I find it by innovating without social impact.

It's this sense of duty towards impact. What excites me about my work every day is that it requires courage to implement radical innovation, and dedication to serve a social purpose.

Two years ago who would have believed it?

It is hard to find one word to summarize everything I have learned during these past months. If there’s one key insight I can share it would be finding the fine balance between modesty and self-confidence, in order to be both humble and bold at the same time. Trusting your instinct in selling your product and your vision to customers and investors; meanwhile, being aware of your limits and where you need input from others. This importance of self-awareness leads me to another important learning: listening to others to better learn from them.

In the construction industry, in particular, I find myself learning a lot from employees who work on the job site and have much more hands-on experience than I. I actively cultivate these conversations. In fact, I visited a multifamily project site a few months ago and could have spent an hour interrogating an electrician about his work. The job superintendent kindly stepped in, asked me to let him perform his work. And as if that were not enough, I have also watched hours of electrician tutorials on YouTube. Two years ago who would have believed it? All this to say that I find these interactions important to keep our work grounded (no pun intended). It's how I can make sure that listening and inclusivity are central in my work.

Diversity & Inclusion

This is my personal story but my amazing co-founders are as driven as I am. Together, we look forward as a team to collaborating with the rest of the industry towards more sustainable and affordable housing. All four of them are women of color whom I listen to and learn from everyday. In a few words, I asked them to share their motivation for Kit Switch:

Our team’s values are rooted in diversity and inclusion.

In practice, we make sure to translate these values into tangible decisions, starting with the very core of Kit Switch – its corporate entity. As I told you last month, we incorporated Kit Switch as a public-benefit corporation (PBC). For those who have not heard this term before, it is effectively a C-corporation suited for investment purposes but with an additional benefit statement, which means the role of the company is not only to maximize profits for its owners or stakeholders but also to follow its benefit statement. It differs from a “B Corp,” which is a certification granted by the nonprofit B Lab to for-profit entities voluntarily meeting higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance. Obviously, it also impacts the partnerships we take on and the markets we target. Cultivating company values like those helps immensely with company culture and strategy, internal communication, and employee wellbeing.

How I look to the future of Kit Switch

Overall, it  – hopefully --  is just the beginning of a long journey for my teammates and me. I am confident that upcoming temporary installations and demonstration projects with early customers this Spring/Summer will showcase the cost, time and carbon efficiencies of our solution. I look forward to moving towards at-scale commercialization of our product with the support of industry partners and being able to onboard all five of us on the team and welcome new talents.

As this is the last article in this series about the beginning of our journey with Kit Switch, I invite you to sign up for our newsletter and follow our LinkedIn account. More announcements to come in Spring and Summer!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Candice Delamarre

Candice Delamarre

Co-founder, COO, Kit Switch

Candice Delamarre, a recent Stanford University graduate, is co-founder and principal in Kit Switch, a Bay Area start-up committed to affordable housing by integrating trades in building components.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Candice Delamarre

Candice Delamarre

Co-founder, COO, Kit Switch

Candice Delamarre, a recent Stanford University graduate, is co-founder and principal in Kit Switch, a Bay Area start-up committed to affordable housing by integrating trades in building components.

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A last bastion refuge of new residential construction business practice has reached the brink of elimination as inflation, interest rates, supply chokeholds, and local-municipal delays narrow the fairway.


Price-Vs.-Cost Neutrality Pursuit Drives Builders To Build Smarter

The power to build smarter, and the risks of of not doing so have never meant more to homebuilders' business outlook than they do in late-Spring 2022.


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