Ray and Rebecca Antonino are a Grand Strand power couple and fast paced tech entrepreneurs. In the last year they have been all over country growing awareness and refining their message about FieldVine, which is a new way for contractors to manage projects, communicate and stay compliant with building permits.
Tell me how you got started with FieldVine.
FieldVine didn't start as a tech startup. It started as a solution to a problem we had with our rapidly growing construction company. We were a small business managing projects across 3 states. Communication and compliance through the use of spreadsheets, emails and phones hindered our ability to be efficient and scale. We needed a better way. - Rebecca
How did you start creating the solution?
In 2012, we went to a charity function at CoworkMYR, a coworking space in Myrtle Beach (now Startup.SC an initiative of the Grand Strand Technology Council). It was there that we met Adam Michel, a software engineer - who understood our problem and offered to build a solution that would help us. - Rebecca
So when did it go from a self-serving solution to a startup for others?
After months of using what we built internally the day came when we gave access to customers and suppliers. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Companies like Lowe’s Home Improvement started using our software for accessing information on their own customers (we installed windows, doors, siding, fencing, etc.) because it was relevant, they could see photos and videos of the jobs in real time and most importantly they could communicate all in one place.
The ‘ah ha’ moment came when Lowe’s sales people starting using FieldVine to determine what municipality a job was located in and if the project required a permit before they met with the customer. This helped them to know whether to charge for permit ahead of time rather than asking for money later. – Ray
Was it scary?
Yes and No, (Rebecca laughs) for us (as a couple), going from corporate companies into the technology world, everyday was a leap of Faith. We had to adjust from our ‘brick and mortar’ thinking and switch to ‘how does this look’ in the tech startup industry. There was so much to learn. - Rebecca
What has been a Key Success Factor for you?
Distinguishing the difference between a tech startup and a brick and mortar service company was key for us. They are night and day different and you have to retrain your mind for this. For us, we sought people who understood technology startups and would provide the education and mentorship for us to succeed.
As an Army Veteran I has been blessed to find a tribe of sorts, programs seeking to help and grow Veterans looking to transition into tech entrepreneurs. Cities like Fort Walton Beach that stepped up to provide the funding for my wife to relocate for 3 months and get the education needed, non-profits like Patriot Boot Camp that provided us mentorship and connections to people that would have taken years to establish. Most important, is the people that believe in us, mentor us and genuinely have a #givefirst mentality. - Ray
You’ve been on a wild ride. Give an example of what your journey has been like since deciding to go all-in on FieldVine?
It’s been crazy, in late 2014, we were accepted as 1 of 5 companies, into Startup.SC, the Grand Strand Tech Council’s Incubator. Then, in April 2015, we attended Patriot Boot Camp at Goldman Sachs in New York City. Later that fall we were 1 of 7 companies chosen to attend Venture Hive, an intensive 3 month educational accelerator provided by the City of Fort Walton Beach, FL. Fast forward to Feb 2016 and we are once again moving, only this time to Austin, TX as we beat out over 1,000 applicants vying for 1 of 10 coveted spots to join the TechStars - Austin Accelerator. - Ray
What is the recent MountainTop FieldVine Moment for you?
Without a doubt the announcement days ago of FieldVine getting accepted into TechStars is by far the biggest achievement to date. The startup world is littered with companies that fail, getting into TechStars provides a level of credibility and exposure needed to give us a real chance at making it. - Rebecca
What is a recent Grand Strand Tech community event that you have enjoyed?
Presenting at 1 Million Cups Grand Strand was pivotal for us! We really nailed down our pitch while in Florida at VentureHive, and had just returned when we were asked to come and present our startup to 1MC Grand Strand. The pitch went great, but the Q&A was the best session that I have ever had in the history of FieldVine. I even used the video of the session in other meetings, and it was really helpful!
Final Words and Thoughts?
We’re ready to change the way contractors, builders and municipalities work together on permitting and project workflow. FieldVine is the future for digital permitting. - Ray