Lance Amato of Canoa joins the podcast to talk about the disconnected and circuitous nature of design tools and workflows in relation to the furniture supply chain and project delivery process, circular economy, sustainability, product fulfillment, Canoa’s marketplace which offers a collection of second life furniture, their free 2d design tool for space planning, and other topics.
- Introducing the Confluence podcast available on YouTube and Spotify
- Lance on LinkedIn
- Lance on Twitter
- Canoa website
- Canoa on LinkedIn
- Canoe an Twitter
- Related episode: TRXL 037: ‘The Space Doesn’t Care’, with Lance Amato
Connect with Evan:
Watch this episode on YouTube:
130: ‘Design Tools and the Circular Economy’, with Lance Amato
Evan Troxel: [00:00:00]
welcome to the TRXL podcast. I'm Evan Troxel, a bit of housekeeping before we get into today's episode. If you've been listening to this podcast, this season, you've hopefully heard of one of the sponsors confluence and the live events aspect of the brand. Which I'll be attending in October myself, but I have something new to announce. Confluence is now something more than an invite, only live event. It's also a podcast. And it's very cool if I do say so myself, because it's a joint collaboration between me here at TRXL and Randall Stevens of AVAIL, the creator of Confluence. So who's the show for. Well, have you ever written software or wondered why the software you use works the way it does or want to find out how the people who make the software in our industry do their work? [00:01:00] Then this is the show for you. I like to describe the confluence podcast as the director's commentary track for AEC industry software. Because in each episode, we go behind the scenes of AEC software development and talk directly with a developer to dissect a feature and their workflows, and to get an inside view of how and why they made the decisions they did while creating the software you use. Uh, Randall describes it as the AEC industry software version of the, how I built this podcast, which we are both huge fans of. Confluence is a visual show in which our guests show their work. And we think you're really going to like it. And we already have a few episodes out for you to watch. You can find it on YouTube and Spotify right now. Just search for Confluence podcasts on those platforms. Or click the links that I've put right in the show notes for this episode. Go check it out. And of course, please subscribe. It would be amazing to get a boost from this audience [00:02:00] right out of the gate.
Okay today. I welcome back to the show. Lance Amato. Lance is head of customer experience with Canoa. As a business development leader with experience leading high growth performance teams, his role oversees the improvement of the experience of subscribers on the platform, as well as exposing brand awareness throughout the design community. A nationally recognized leader in the design and furniture industry. He has past involvement in leadership roles on both the international interior design association and American Institute of architects.
And this episode, we discussed the disconnected and circuitous nature of design tools and workflows to the furniture, supply chain and project delivery process. The circular economy. Sustainability. Product fulfillment. Canoa's marketplace, which offers a collection of second life furniture, their free 2d design tool built for interior designers and architects or anyone really [00:03:00] to do smart and informed space planning right in the browser. And other topics. So without further ado, I bring you my conversation with Lance Amato. the last time you were on the show was March. Well, we released the episode March of 2021. It's like two
and a half years.
That's crazy. You were an
you were an early
Lance Amato: We were also a early stage startup at that point? Uh, no, that was, that was, uh, probably less than a year into the, the, uh, the start of canoa. So we were, we were still kind of navigating, uh, exactly the foundation of what the company would be
Evan Troxel: Yeah.
Lance Amato: and what we would become eventually
Evan Troxel: I I, yeah. It's interesting because you were talking about, uh, the disarray of energy code adoption across the United States. I [00:04:00] think you had numbers in the magnitude of tens of thousands of municipalities, like maybe 30 ish
thousand municipalities, something like that, who are all have different. Kind of versions that they, they're incantations of various codes because it's all left up to like the local jurisdictions to decide what they're gonna follow and what's best for them.
And therefore, like, I think the outcome of that conversation was your push for architects to really be in the room when those kinds of decisions are being made. If not author, the, the kind of frameworks around. What the different municipalities should be adopting and, and have more consensus around that.
Because it was, I mean, it just kind of shows you how much of the wild West there was. I mean, which you were, you brought light to that. I mean, that, that's just kind of some incredible statistics to understand the nuance and complexity of what we're dealing with
in the building
Lance Amato: I think, uh, when we, when we, talk about the building industry, it reflects, um, my experience, let me, let me take a step back. But my experience in stepping, taking a step back outside the, the day-to-day function of, of being an architect, to actually explore what it would take, um, to research and understand the various facets of, of how we practice.
In that case it was practicing this energy code and understanding it was, was a phenomenal experience. Um, and, uh, ever since that experience, I actually did get involved, uh, with my local chapter, uh, the a i a Westchester chapter and their participation, um, as well as representation into the New York State's, uh, evolution of energy code and was really pertinent.
Um, The voice is certainly being heard and, and, and the profession, uh, in some states are, are pushing, um, how [00:06:00] we mold the, the energy code, uh, for the next iteration of it. So that was, that was a great experience and, and honestly,
um, this, this, company and my role, uh, has given me the opportunity to explore a lot of facets of how we actually practice our profession.
Now, two years ago it was, it was more towards energy code. Uh, now it's more towards circularity and furnishing. Uh, and the lessons learned there have been pretty interesting, which is, I guess, the whole point of what we're talking about today.
Evan Troxel: Yeah. I, I, I think there's definitely been a sharpening of the point when it comes to your
approach. You, you started wide, you did this huge survey, and I mean, you, you, I'm sure you had no idea if I recall the conversation, you had no idea what you were getting into. You thought something I. It turned out to be something entirely different and much bigger. And, uh, but now also to kind of speak to your point about the shift, [00:07:00] the pivot that's occurred at Canoa and in your role, I mean, you have a, a background in interior design leading a, a large team through various offices and. Now, I mean, Canoa it, when I, when I think of Canoa, when I look at what you guys have released, when I look at the tools and the, the marketplace that you've created for reselling, I guess, I don't know what the right word is.
It's not really reselling, but you've ba basically put together a marketplace of this to, to help create this circularity that you're talking about with when it comes to furniture. And I don't know if it goes beyond furniture, I always want to say like, Furnishings and equipment, because that's my architect, the architect in me talking about that.
But I mean, maybe let's just talk about that because you really have shifted in what you're doing at the company. I think your, your previous title was something around, uh, like
research and compliance and things like that.
And now it's, it's, it's
Lance Amato: if, if you take [00:08:00] my title every two months, it totally changes. W when you, when you, uh, are at day one, uh, of, when a com company gets together, you have, uh, the opportunity to be involved in tons of different things and.
Evan Troxel: Yeah.
Lance Amato: I think, uh,
some people, uh, call me, uh, the elastic one where I kind of just insert myself where I'm needed and where I'm inserting myself now was very different from where it was before, but it always kind of, I.
It was kind of steered towards getting out there and understanding a little bit about where our market is, uh, understanding where we need to go as a
company and organization and just connecting with the community. Uh, between, between now and then, and honestly, since, since since day one. Keno is purpose was to help, uh, companies and individuals design better. Uh, originally in the first year. That was broad, as you say. [00:09:00] It was, um, trying to catch everything inclusive of energy code. Everything you would put and populate in a floor plan ideally would capture related, uh, sustainable metrics including energy code. We had since sharpened that pencil and we've gotten more, more focused, uh, onto what we wanted to study and, and dive into.
And, uh, since then, And, and to, to your point, the marketplace release, uh, really, uh, was I'd say the tipping point of what Canoe is today. And we've gone kind of past the whole startup phase of exploration into functioning business, uh, with the purpose, which is amazing. And, and,
um, to go back into to what we've learned, and I will go on to my, my conversation and my, my story at this point.
Uh, To kind of refocus my, my, my research and my understanding of, of, well, if we're going to help designers, design, and, uh, we're [00:10:00] going to help designers design with furniture and products in mind. Uh, how do designers select and purchase their products? And when we are, I, I, live in, in the New York City area, um, many people and individuals at Canoa, uh, many people that might be listening here, I.
Also live in major cities. And originally many of us feel that, uh, the, the, method of specification, uh, selection, sourcing of goods and, and into purchasing those goods, whether it's the individual themselves or handing it off to someone else. Uh, is done a certain way, but we realized pretty quickly that outside of a major city, like New York City, uh, or San Francisco or Los Angeles, uh, most individuals, uh, purchase their goods and honestly even use, uh, online resources to understand, [00:11:00] um, the cost and the finish and feel of their furnishings.
Now, the. Most of those online resources are developed by residential brands.
Evan Troxel: Mm-hmm.
Lance Amato: Um,
and I, I'd say
that they, they position themselves, you know, pretty well that they're easy to access. Uh, their information is widely available, uh, inclusive of how much things would cost and how long they would take to get there.
And because of the ease of and reliability of information, uh, a majority of the United States uses those tools, um, to develop budgets. Inevitably buy their product. Uh, unfortunately a lot of those goods, um, are of a grade that aren't for commercial use or, uh, restaurant use or,
uh, any other use that would be a high traffic.
Evan Troxel: yeah.
Lance Amato: Right? And so, so, these goods, um, [00:12:00] often go to waste and they go into landfill. The term fast furniture comes up a ton.
I'm sure you've heard that
Evan Troxel: I haven't.
Lance Amato: out a ton.
Evan Troxel: I I, I
get the concept immediately though.
Lance Amato: Uh, and so, so, you know, we realized pretty quickly that there are certain means and methods from, from designers designing massive projects in major cities with massive budgets into just someone in a different part of the country trying to fit out their space.
That . It's gonna be built in six to eight weeks. And how do we reach that audience?
How do you make it easy, um, uh, for someone that is across the country to attain the information and resources that we would have here? And the marketplace function is, is ideally that, it's, it's. Constructed and, and, and, it, its data is, is molded identically to, that you would see in other residential brands, [00:13:00] but it is exclusively used for commercial goods, um, with brands that predominantly do not
have marketplaces of their own.
And we, we offer this kind of, this pedestal to expand their brand's, uh, awareness across the country at this point. the amazing part of this also, Since day one, we've always had sustainability and circularity in mind. And we have a category that is the second life collection, which is entirely listed goods from companies, um, that have this product in inventory or sitting on vacant floors. just having no use, just sitting there in empty
spaces. We've given these, these
companies, these subscribers, the opportunity to list their products for resell. Uh, and it's been funny, we originally we had to go basically ask a couple companies to list it, but now people are [00:14:00] flocking,
companies are flocking to, to list their product with us.
And it's not only just a major, major corporation, um, there are. Other people that deal and make furniture that are trying to find sustainable means and methods to get rid of their product. And many people that live in big cities are, would kind of giggle and say, well, who's buying all that stuff? Well, not, maybe not you, but if you go across the country in markets, the southeast sector, Midwest, uh, the Rockies, uh, those, those cities are still doing things.
And it may not, may be a major corporation that's building at a huge project, but our, our orders, um, they come and they come into scale that the common business, uh, can buy 20 desks, uh, at an affordable price. Um, and we found out actually through, through just this, this month by month ordering traction that, that, [00:15:00] uh, every single order we have is a blend of pre-owned product.
That is now saved from landfill as well as uniquely designed new products and designers or end users or, or honestly, anyone's a designer at this point, but people that want to create their spaces, um, are now like procuring and sourcing, uh, these goods, uh, because the information is readily available.
They know when it's gonna show up, they know the price, uh, and they can just, the ease of checkout flow is, is just so simple that. It's just like buying, uh, something for your own house. So we've had great success and
that's just kinda where we're going.
Evan Troxel: Yeah. How much of this was precipitated by the change in, well, the pandemic? I guess to just state it plainly upfront, but then after that, what that precipitated as like change of use or empty
buildings, quote unquote empty, not empty of furniture, just empty of people,
Lance Amato: Mm-hmm.
Evan Troxel: but then realizing that the [00:16:00] use is likely gonna change, or this is an opportunity to change how we use a space.
How much of that drove
Lance Amato: Oh, it all did.
The, The, company since day one wanted to do this. It's, it's how we actually, how we actually promoted and got, got in the door, per se, uh, was in a different angle than we presumed we
would. Originally we wanted to
be a company that would inventory everything within a space, and that inventory would then give awareness, uh, to the stakeholders that, Hey, we have this much stuff.
Uh, and once they, they had
that, uh, then they would figure out what to do with it. Uh, now the, then they would figure out what to do with it part. Was the challenge. 'cause even if you know what you have in your inventory, it doesn't change the fact that you probably need to get rid of your inventory at some point.
Evan Troxel: Mm-hmm.
Lance Amato: So, So, alternatively,[00:17:00]
positioning ourselves similar to that of a Facebook marketplace, um, has drawn more interest for inbound traffic and inbound inventory requests or submissions, if you wanna put it that way. Um, because there is, there's kind of that, that solution that's right in front of front of them.
Uh, Like I said, people are coming to us now on a weekly basis saying, Hey, I am a furniture manufacturer and I have showroom pieces that are beautiful. I just want to sell 'em. Hey, I actually sell furniture. And um, probably the most wasteful thing, uh, is I have mockups that I've done for major corporations sitting in my warehouse.
Evan Troxel: Mm-hmm.
Lance Amato: I'd like to get rid of 'em. They cost me money, and
I'm just gonna throw them away. Uh, alternatively, there's huge corporation
still that's saying, Hey, we have four floors of task chairs. We don't know what to do with it, so let's, let's sell it for a very, very discounted price.
Evan Troxel: And you're talking about kind of this regionality based on urban centers where I assume what you're really talking about [00:18:00] is like showrooms, right? Or warehouses and showrooms where those are not evenly
distributed across the country.
Lance Amato: I would say. I would say they are the showrooms and warehouses where, where most of our sources come from. Are predominantly in two major states, speaking transparently, but you can see it on our platform. They are, they're in the Northeast and the west in California. Uh, there's a handful of warehouses and, and things that are stored at, at customers facilities in, in Chicago.
Uh, and we end up actually delivering it across the entire United States. 'cause we kind of just, we aggregate all that information and we ship it through those points. So that's where it's usually coming from.
Evan Troxel: Yeah. So talk about the logistics side of that. When, when somebody places an order for,
I mean, let's just say a larger order, do you
Lance Amato: Mm-hmm.
Evan Troxel: work directly with
shipping and logistics to make that happen, or, or do you ha have a
partner in that? Or how do you do that
Lance Amato: [00:19:00] we we have, uh, partners, but we coordinate, uh, all of that, so we help pick up the products and deliver it to its location. The common question that gets
brought up in this is, well, the freight's really expensive, and that's true, but here's the point, is that
for one, the value of what someone's selling a very high-end product for is 90% of what you would spend for it.
If it is new, the quality of it is more than acceptable at this point to receive it. And the freight is the freight ma, it might be a little bit more to get something shipped, um, than having it shipped new for one. Uh, it does not equate to, it's actually substantially less than buying a new product, uh, plus shipping.
And you get it within a week instead of waiting 14 to 24 weeks to do. And when I, when I talk about the markets that we talk about here, these
people do not wait 24 weeks. For their, their space to be open. [00:20:00] They need it done in four to six weeks. 'cause that's, that's the pace that these people have run off of.
Evan Troxel: Right, right. It's
interesting that we kind of started with the end. I mean, we started with the, the fulfillment, like the, the ordering and the fulfillment. But I mean, obviously you make tools to get to that point, and so maybe now we can shift into that part of the conversation because I think what what makes this interesting more than it just being a marketplace where people do their shopping, quote unquote, but they're, they're actually designing in the tool and there is a direct link between. The software side and what I would, you know, label as the hardware side, which is the actual fulfillment of the real furniture. Not, not like computer hardware, not technology hardware, but, but hard goods. Right. So talk about that part of it, because building that tool, again, making a tool in today's, everybody makes a tool nowadays.
I all the companies that you're talking about who
make the furniture, make tools.
But it's specific to their furniture, right? I, I assume, uh, you think [00:21:00] about Steelcase or, you know, Hawthorne or whoever is making a, a lot of this, this stuff, it, it, they make their own platforms for design interior designers to lay spaces out, which then we're immediately then talking about duplication of work, right?
Because those don't necessarily talk to the tools that architects and interior designers are using. And so then we have to start over and, and, and kind of Mimic that. And so talk, let's talk about Canoa as a platform for design as well as as the marketplace and fulfillment. Talk about where that started, how that's how that's transpired over
the last two years.
Lance Amato: So I, I love it. Um, now it gets into the, the fun part of the conversation. . So .Our marketplace. It works. Our marketplace works and, and we get orders on the daily basis. Uh, we, we have the opportunity on a marketplace to have very unique products. And the strength of, of why people come here is to the point I brought up before, it's that transparency of data.[00:22:00]
Now we look at the, the typical workflow of what it takes to design a project into buying furniture. There really are, are, um, . A handful of segments. Uh, for one, there's a tool to source the specification of a piece of furniture, and we will take this in a position of an interior designer and a design firm, a formal design firm.
They are sourcing it from many different
websites, or they utilize a single catalog function to source those products. Then they have to plan two dimensionally or three dimensionally. Um, that product that is in, that's been sourced and specified on a different system, uh, on a different platform and commonly used, we can just say it's Revit or cad.
Um, not making any enemies on that we're,
it's a commonly used [00:23:00] product to plant tools. Um, then.
We can say, we can talk about Revit integrations all we want, but then there is another source to quantify all that data. The data that they, they can, they can construct based on what they've learned, uh, into a list or populated into a list that would be utilized and handed off to someone else.
So I've already gone through three simple tools at this point, and I haven't gotten to the tool used to present a design concept to someone.
Evan Troxel: Right.
Lance Amato: Then now, now I'm gonna
stop actually for a second before I do then. So everything you've just stated around, um, uh, data and, and handoffs and things like that, the, the tools I've just stated here are tools, um, that vastly different tools that designers use over the course, like source and such.
Manufacturers supply these interior designers with tools such as websites and links and CAD downloads and, and images and [00:24:00] things like that. These are, these are. I'd say the fidelity of this information, that that data is very, very low because all that designers need at this point to, to get that information is probably the image, what the model name is, and maybe what like the specification number is problem set, that the many don't have actually the price yet if, if it's online.
It's wonderful. They have the price exposed. Many don't have the price. So the data, they have to build this, this, this list
of information to procure from also happens to have, um, not enough data to actually buy it. So then you go into the next set and it's the person purchasing the product and the purchasing, purchasing the product could be another human at that company,
Evan Troxel: Mm-hmm.
Lance Amato: or it's another company that's entirely
right, that represents the sales of furnishings.
So now they have this piece of information. Um, it's usually, you know, hard-coded P D F or [00:25:00] something along those, those lines. Um, those companies do not use
the same sourcing tools of specifications. They don't use websites often enough. They have like specific libraries and catalogs even given to them by manufacturers or they pay for themselves.
They have specific planning tools, which surprisingly are not the same planning tools in interior design use. Um, because this planning tool is very, is has very detailed information that they need to then hand off to a ordering tool to then place an order with the manufacturers, which often and many times, uh, are either linked to major manufacturer or literally just simple emails at this point.
So now I've gone, I've gone through this crazy problem
set. Of what, seven different technologies and, and windows being open, um, to just get a image of a chair bought from inspiration. And this, this, this was crazy. [00:26:00] The, the, and this is a lot of the reasons why people buy online and a lot of, a lot of people across the country just go online to and to, to get that price and lead time because the amount of, the amount of technologies that are used right now and planning purposes.
To buy something. It's, it's vast. And the break in data, the recreation in that, um, it happens at least once in a cycle, if not twice when you go through it. So the Canoa is, is constructed and, and was constructed as a marketplace with an embedded planning tool. Uh, we always did it. We never not had it. And the marketplace has related two dimensional blocks for plan.
Where we're going in this part is we realized, I would say after frequent use of the planning tool to place orders on our own platform that designers find benefit to having clear data in all data within one embedded source and planning [00:27:00] with it. So the minute that you plan with you can plan with your data and execute an order, uh, in the same flow and function in the same platform.
To place an order in our marketplace and realize there's, there's benefits here. There's some strength here that the data exists out there, and it's, it's used by, by designers. Um, for sourcing. If we can build a database of reliability, um, for all furniture objects that are available, commercial brands and such, we may not be actually selling everything in our marketplace, but you could design.
Um, through our system, an entire project if you chose to do so, and that, that's kind of what we've been learning and kind of where we're going at this point. That, that the benefits of what our market, what made our market tool, marketplace tool successful, can be applied to any design project. Whether you use the actual marketplace or not, you can use the design tool to design.
So that's what we're doing.[00:28:00]
Evan Troxel: So you, you talked about all these various pieces of information that the design team and the specifications team, or part of the design team, I guess, but these different levels, they're, they're all kind of disconnected at some. Point along the way, right? You've got a CAD block, you've got a specification, maybe that's like a Word document.
You've got a, a Revit family. Um, because, you know, maybe it's going from a, a layout person to a construction documents person at some point, and they're gonna. Maybe they can take the original block, maybe not. Maybe they gotta go find a three D version of that for visualization or for space planning or, you know, additional criteria they need to look at a d a, and so they want to see clearances and things that may come in a Revit family. And then you've got an an Excel spreadsheet where you're kind of tracking all this stuff and all these are disconnected pieces of. Information along the path of this design process. And then you're even kind of opening the door to this other world that I've never been a part of, which [00:29:00] is, is like the actual procurement, where there's another tool involved, uh, that's based on a cataloging system and it ties into the manufacturers and, and it talks about, you know, the costing maybe at that point. All these disconnected things and what you're talking about Canoa being a platform for is tying all that together so that when somebody places a, a block, a a symbol of whatever that chair or that table or that cubicle or whatever it is, it's got this information tied to it, and you're doing that beyond just the things that are available in the marketplace.
You want to be that for everything that's out there. And I think it's, it's. It's important to say all that out loud because I think what's so interesting is we do it the way we've always done it because we don't realize that there's a better way. And even hearing about there being a better way in this industry rarely
takes hold of somebody to, to make a [00:30:00] change in the way that they do things because. We build everything around the way we do things. We build our schedules around that. We build our staffing around that.
We build everything around that. And so, saying, because the, the gap between innovation and adoption is huge, right? So you're innovating a platform that, that solves a bunch of problems, checks a bunch of boxes, uh, to make that a better process in so many ways, not just more efficiently, but even in just how I feel about using a tool when I design a project. It could be Terrible, or it could be great. Right. And, and that'll, that has value as well. And you just think about how hard it is to adopt or how hard it is to close the gap between adoption and those innovations. Uh, how many times do people need to hear before they actually try it out, before they actually take hold of it and share it with somebody else before it actually becomes something [00:31:00] measurable? In the, in change in our industry, it's, this is such a tough, a tough problem set to be dealing with. I mean, I, I would love to hear just your experience with that, because you're not the only ones doing that, but you're doing it for
your piece of of the
Lance Amato: right. Uh, I love that you bring this up, . So, so it, it has to be verbalized again, and I, I will say it as a person that is fairly new to this, this world, this world of technology and, and honestly this world of data, uh, I have heard, um, experts in this, you know, beat down the door for a decade that. Um, data is very important and it's something I've been, I was always rigid on data.
The, the, the efficiency, let me go back. I think the, the purpose of it, of, of what these, what we are trying to build, what other people [00:32:00] are building, um, is not necessarily to make your life harder, but it's to make your life more efficient. And the adoption of it, um, is always a scary prospect because, like you said,
We focus our resources and our schedules about a certain stack, a tech technology stack that just tends to work. You may not love it. No one loves retyping something in Excel when they look online. And if you're a listener and you tell me that you love that as your job,
then please pinging me on LinkedIn and I'd like to have a conversation with you.
But, but the reality is, is that that time is now utilized to retype something. That could already have been done better elsewhere. And I'm sure there are companies that are helping you do that, but you're fearful to do it because the time you're investing, like you don't have the time to invest in doing so.
The realization that the sa the saving of time by, by [00:33:00] I'd say centralizing your data stream is actually saving you time and money is, is, some, is this this epiphany that I had when I joined? Cana and honestly, I just realized, or late in my, my career, it's always for, for me, and it's funny, I relate this back to the billable hour conversation.
know, when, whenever I was, when I, in leadership and I was trying to adopt technology, even for no matter cost, it was, I always related back, will it save me in billable hours? And it always came back to presentations and things like that. The reality is, is that it would have, and it could if I just adopted it and, and followed, followed suit now.
To answer your
question very directly, um, how hard is it to, to entice individuals to adopt technology? It is hard. I'm not gonna say it's easy for every, I'd say dozen emails and LinkedIn posts. Um, people see, they're very curious about what we do, [00:34:00] and I've heard this over and over and over and over again.
Um, recently we've learned that, um, To, to help kind of build in that curiosity and really entice people to come to, to see what we can do and get into what we're doing. Utilizing strategies that have been in existence for 30 years, i e i, human saying, hi, this is what we do. Check it out.
Evan Troxel: Right.
Lance Amato: Actually builds on success.
And it sounds
like it's slow and it probably is, but we have to come to realization. Tech innovators and people have been, that are trying to push the agenda, that sometimes we have to kind of adopt some practices to build trust with an individual before they adopt the technologist, move forward. And ever since we've been doing that, this, it's this kind of one, two
punch of a blend of, of curiosity, an interest with, hey, now I have the trust of of what we're doing.
[00:35:00] Um, let me go check it out. And ever since then it's, it's actually been hugely success, successful, and people
have been kind of really coming towards the platform and checking us out. Um, and so again, to go back to your question, um, very hard, but there, there are some strategies that this industry's utilized that we can use today, um, with technologies to, to bring people on.
Evan Troxel: There's a lot of baggage out
there that that design professional carries, which is based on Failures of other promises to
deliver on those things in the past, right? And so there's a lot of hesitation there in adopting, everybody feels digital fatigue, tool fatigue. There's a tool for everything out there.
I only have so much time in the day. I already know what I'm doing, you know, and, and even if it takes me longer, like where am I going to find the time to invest in learning a new tool that will quote unquote save me time. That's where that baggage comes back in, which says, I tried that a few times and [00:36:00] didn't work out because various reasons, right?
Maybe they didn't invest enough time. Maybe it wasn't a great tool. I mean, maybe it didn't actually do what it was promised it would do, and so now it's like We're totally shy to even try to try a new tool to try something out, and so it kind of takes that, I like that you brought it back to trust and, and you didn't say
it directly, but I would say relationships with real people,
Lance Amato: Yep.
Evan Troxel: which is which then when they're ready, when on that next project or that next process, or they do find some time, they are gonna have that. Trust where they can go in and say, I'm actually gonna try it out. And, and to have somebody there that they can talk to, a real person, I think is, is a key to be available then. And when that actually happens, because questions will arise and it's not gonna be as intuitive as somebody else said it was. I mean, for example.
So these are the kinds of things I think that [00:37:00] what I love seeing and, and why you're on this show is because that you guys get that, you understand that. You're not just saying it was interesting. You think about Apple, you think about Steve Jobs saying, you know, here's the iPad, uh, we don't even know what it's for but you already know how to use it. And it's kind of like hands off, hand out, handover. And you're saying like, here's a tool and we think it's gonna help you in all these ways. And we're here to we're, we're here when you need us. I think that that's a, a little bit of a different. Take on technology than most companies have, which is like, download our thing and use it and it'll do X, Y, and Z, versus download our tool, gimme a call, or whatever.
However you can interface with them to, to actually
be there to hold the hand
if they need it.
Lance Amato: Let me add,
that point. Many softwares and tools, uh, are sold at a very high cost to probably business leadership as a degree of efficiency. There, there are [00:38:00] specific salespeople that do that. Honestly, we tried the same thing for quite some time too. Um, it doesn't necessarily, even though it's
sold to business leadership, um, those business leaders may not actually know what the day-to-day person does functionally.
Then now you suddenly
have brought down.
Yes. Okay. Well you've suddenly brought, brought this
hammer of forcefulness down into someone's life. I have to use this for, wait, what? I didn't even know it. We, we have decided to go the other route. Our, our platform is entirely free.
You can, you can sign up today, we ask for your
first and last name.
Um, and that's it. So you sign up and you can explore the, the, the design tool. You can construct any like two dimensional block and, and product image you choose. You can use our tool to resource specifications on our shop for lead times. You don't even need to actually buy anything, uh, for it. We have available options if you chose to do it for the [00:39:00] marketplace.
But the purpose, we, we. We've seen, we, instead of saying, Hey, we know what designers want, we're gonna build it for them and then sell it to their bosses. We said, let's just see what happens when people do stuff. Even this morning, I've, I've seen, uh, someone use our design tool, uh, to inventory their entire 15,000 square foot floor plate.
We didn't tell 'em to do it. We're just watching. Well, we're not only watching you, but I'm just saying that we, we've realized
Evan Troxel: Right,
Lance Amato: they did it. And they go, wow, there's, there's a.
There's a hundred
inventory skews in their database. We, let's say inventory at it. How did that come to be? And people are using the design tool to design, and I think that's a really powerful thing.
Suddenly outta curiosity, um, someone just came in and said, I can, Hey, I can use it for this. Lemme start doing this. It's not gonna cost me anything. But suddenly when you start to build that traction and, and interest of, of people using the tool for certain functions, we learn from that. We . [00:40:00] It's this kind of community inspired like function that as more and more people are using these very simple functions, we're talking about a data card, getting really a piece of data onto a two dimensional floor plan, and there's synced and that's all.
It's like I'm not, it took many
years to do it.
Evan Troxel: sounds simple,
but not, yeah.
Lance Amato: in, in a, in a very,
the simplistic function, people are . Constructing inventories of their entire floor plates. I have, I haven't talked to any of those people in person, but they suddenly are doing it. Um, they are constructing their own furniture spec books.
Uh, they're doing presentations to their clients. They're searching cards and probably someone else is buying their stuff or stuff that's actually showing up on that, that platform. But these, this tool is starting to go and, and the reason I keep bringing this up is, and why we feel so . Good about it is 'cause there are stories of similar softwares [00:41:00] that have been seen as a resource and have been built by the community to, to, to, to, to something grander and bigger.
There are visualization tools. There are mood board tools. I'm not gonna say their names.
There are like collaborative multifunctional presentation whiteboard tools that all had a free version. And they started to learn what the users, uh, did. And they realized, hey, there, there are tools here we can build upon.
And honestly start to monetize at such a low capacity, a low cost that these same designers that use it for free might find a benefit for paying a handful to use professional versions of it. And we're learning these things as we go forward. And that's, that's kind of where we're at now, the marketplace.
We're not, we haven't pivoted from the marketplace. Our marketplace will always be there. We will always have a, a set of curated brands and resell products, unique items [00:42:00] to Canoa that will be there for the community. But now we suddenly realized we, let's lean into this design tool and see we can come out of it.
Evan Troxel: And it's a beautiful tool. I think, you know, I, I talked a minute ago about, uh, tools people want to use versus, and this has been a theme on this show for a couple years now, right? There's, there's tools that people love to use, and there's people that, there's tools that people tolerate and there's tools that people hate to use. And it seems like, well, modern tools are starting to fall more on the, the side of tools people love to use because they're specific. They do the job really well, they Perform very quickly. They can get to their data from anywhere. There's a lot of reasons why they, they like using those tools. Can you talk about what it's like to actually use the platform?
Because I, when I logged into there and I saw how easy it was to use, that is refreshing. Like just that alone, like it doesn't take a lot [00:43:00] to figure out how to use this tool, but, but I would like for you to present, because I'm sure you, you're used to doing this. How do you present. The, the concepts behind your tool and, and then maybe take us through the steps of what it's like to actually use it.
Lance Amato: Simply put the concept of, of the tool is, is having, having a curated, uh, collection of goods, um, with ease of access, you no longer need to ask other people to, to curate or necessarily build upon that, not trying to replace interior design model. But, but as I go through this, um, sometimes people just want access to good design.
And, uh, how I go through the demos always is I start with the shop and the shop, the, the, the curated shop, the, the transparency of our shop and the availability of the brands that we have, as well as, as the second life, uh, collection. And those two parts and pieces, uh, always resonate. Honestly, [00:44:00] whether you're a customer who has a space, then they're looking to find a few products to buy for a room or two.
Honestly, if you're a person that purchases, purchases furniture, that could find deals on second life collections for their own clients or, or, or things of that capacity that they, they find that very curious and very interesting. We don't hide anything behind that. Um, and we're very open that we are a marketplace that once you check out.
Like that. You, you pay for that when you check out. Uh, and that has limitations also, uh, in terms of scale of what we have, people are not gonna throw $1.5 million in their credit card, like immediately, but it, it helps give, give. I'd say the window and the boundaries we have as a marketplace, um, creates less friction with those people that actually deal in projects and huge, multimillion a hundred thousand square foot projects that we're not doing your projects, but we have these offerings here.
If you want some, feel free, knock yourself out. Then it just, it really just [00:45:00] boils down into our planning function, the, the adding of any, any item from our our shop. Into your project by adding the card, dragging it over, and dropping it down. And I, I always use a metaphor, uh, of a very successful tool, um, of a residential brand that happens to be from the, uh, Danish area that uses the same type of approach in residential aspects to build kitchens.
You drag a cabinet.
Evan Troxel: done
Lance Amato: Yep.
Most people do . So to budget your kitchen,
wanna renovate your house, you've gone to this
place that serves meatballs in their, their, their restaurant, that you drag it a little image over to your floor plan square. It's not even an actual floor plan of your house, it's a square, and you suddenly constructed your budget
in, in a matter of like 20 minutes.
And you get to see what you have
Evan Troxel: right.
Lance Amato: like.
Once I, once [00:46:00] I draw
it down to that, I, I, I don't use, um, fancy terminology. I don't talk about data in any one of, of my presentations, I use that one metaphor and 95% of the time that resonates with the individual I'm talking to, and then they understand exactly how it goes.
Now, the day-to-day, it's as simple as that. If, if you realize it takes you 20 minutes to build your kitchen, I have people come to me and say, Hey, you know, I need some help on something. We, we don't, we don't provide the design service, but me just drag and drop into a room. They go, oh yeah, check this out.
If you wanna change it, knock yourself out. You can just drag and drop yourself. Um, it is that quick in terms of, of how reliable it is, and you can populate a 10,000 square foot space in the matter of 20 minutes if you chose to.
Evan Troxel: And the, and you drag and drop
kind of your own underlay into there, right? That
you then place these components into. And I, I, that, that to me is because you probably already have that, that you can actually start [00:47:00] using this tool immediately. You don't have to. I. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I I, I don't think you have
like a wall tool or a door
tool or a or a window tool, right?
It's just you're dragging and dropping and arranging and aligning and rotating components, which are
these symbols of
furnishings right into a plan, and at the same time, it's building a catalog of all that information. In the back end, and
you have access to all that the whole time. So you're like, you're literally building the budget, uh, with the elements that you've placed
onto this canvas immediately. And it's super fast, super flexible, easy to use. You've already done it in the, the meatball kitchen planning software, right? So you, you already know how to do this, but at the same time, I can raise my hand and say, I need help with whatever
that. I, I can, and, and
you're there to do
Lance Amato: and, and,
and then canoe is there to
help. Now, now I'll be super clear that we have, and I'll just say furniture dealer community, which [00:48:00] originally thought that we were, um, a competitor, which we are not at all. Has started to explore our tool, um, as it relates towards a sales tool that actually designers at furniture dealers, uh, have to redesign every option, um, to entice people to buy their furniture for every prospective client.
But it often is the same catalog
of pieces. Uh, we've seen people construct their own custom pieces on platform to empower their sales teams to sell their furniture. We see again, we don't see any of that. Um, we don't sell anything of theirs, but it, it, shows, goes to show that even people representing furniture are trying to use the tool, um, to help them succeed.
Evan Troxel: Mm-hmm. '
Lance Amato: cause it's, 'cause the salespeople do need to
sell and often it means representing what that furniture would mean in a, an actual space. So this is a powerful too for them too.
Evan Troxel: I, I [00:49:00] wanna go back to this thing that you mentioned earlier where you said, the software is free, it's all you need is a name to sign up for this. And something that I've believed for a very long time, and especially as it relates to the kind of audience that you're, you're catering to here. And, but I think it's, it's bigger than this is. Design professionals should not pay for their tools because that there is so much margin built into, I don't even know if that's the right way to approach this part of the conversation, but it's like they're making their money on the sale of those tangible goods that go into the building, and our buildings are 100% made up of all that stuff. We don't make any of it as design professionals. We just organize it. We make decisions around it, we document it. That's the decision making part, right? And then it gets turned over to somebody who then, who then builds it. But those goods get sold to the contractor or [00:50:00] the owner, whoever it may be, that is where like that money should be. To me, it should be put into creating the platforms that make a designer's job easier to make these decisions. I'm curious what you think about that because you're, you're choosing not to charge the end user, in this case, the design team, not the end user of the, of the building, but the design team for the tools to do their job. And so I'm wondering if you agree with that or if you see it differently
what do you
think about that?
Lance Amato: Um, I like this point. I would say, uh, I don't wanna be recorded any monetization conversation just yet, but I'll give you my personal opinion here that. We, we created free, free access for a reason. Um, having access to information doesn't always have to be, cost you a ton of money, but the realization is an individual, not necessarily, I'd say a profession professional or, um, um, an individual, something that makes your life easier.[00:51:00]
Are you willing to invest a little bit into it? Now that, that's, that's the question I'm getting at here. Like, I would say a company. If a company sees that, that certain individuals are, are succeeding in something because they're all kind of collectively getting together, uh, and a company can invest some dollars to, to make it their own as well, and then build upon that, that, that's, that's one thing I think an individual using our tool for free to source some products and plan tools is absolutely fine.
Like for me, I, I, I think an individual as an individual, I invest some certain dollars and cents for things that make my life easier. Um, sometimes they wouldn't even think it'd be easy, but
you know, personally, just whether we pay $9 a month for Google storage, uh, for, you know, endless emails or certainly like that, my life becomes easier because I invest a few dollars in my personal funds to do it.
Um, but [00:52:00] eventually, I would say that if, if I invest $9 in Google, Google email, and then my colleague has spend $9 Google email, and then my other colleague does that, suddenly we're all talking about, Hey, we're all spending money on Google email. I think our company, if this makes our life easier in our daily flow, maybe the company should invest a little bit in this too.
So hence the Google company, like email investment. And then it grows from there. There's, there's this inspiration that I think that, um, We don't wanna charge you to, to, to show up to the platform, but if there are tools that can make your function better, like I think that if it's low enough in investment, it may be worthwhile.
We just don't know yet at this point, um, we're not gonna stop a person from using our plan tool, constructing catalog cards or honestly looking at our shop. It's just that that's, I think that's like the lesson number one. You don't, you don't create more friction for a free platform. How we monetize it into something successful as other companies have done using a similar method is something we're just trying to figure [00:53:00] out right now.
Evan Troxel: Yeah,
Lance Amato: Um, it's gonna revolve on making your life easier though.
Evan Troxel: there, there is this disconnect in that. These companies, like some of these companies, not all of 'em are creating
their own software
platforms. They're investing, what I would assume
are, you know, probably millions of dollars to
Lance Amato: Yep,
Evan Troxel: create tools
for people to specify their furniture. And that totally makes sense. But then where it, where it breaks down is when that tool does or doesn't, or in different ways. Does or doesn't talk to the other software that the design professional uses in their tool
stack. And so if there is a way to
Lance Amato: Yeah.
Evan Troxel: incentivize people to, I mean, 'cause that's what it all comes down to, right?
They're incentivizing people to specify their products. They are the ones paying for that. Um, but they might be misdirecting how they're spending that money to create, you know, what I would call like a proprietary system. For only their stuff when buildings are made of lots and lots of different [00:54:00] companies components.
Right. Not just theirs. And so then it, that, that disconnection
is actually working against the design professional makes it really difficult. And a di design professional isn't gonna pay for, I don't know, they already do pay for probably tens in the order of 50 to a hundred different tools. We can't, we can't grow that bigger
it already is.
doesn't make any
Lance Amato: and, and the lesson that I hope they learn, which they may have not, and I probably hopefully don't shoot myself in the foot here, is that all those major companies that are building these systems, these . AI generated fit plan tools or these, the manufacturers I'm talking about, or these catalog features that are very limited to what they select
Evan Troxel: right.
Lance Amato: they, they forget. One thing is that in
the mind of any designer, they don't wanna be bounded by a limitation. They may never specify like the endless catalogs and pieces that exist in the world. They may have like their 10 favorites, but the minute that you say, I'm going [00:55:00] to basically put a clamp on your creativity. It does not work.
It and we, we also know this now,
it's you cannot s time, creativity. You need to offer opportunity for all aspects of design and everything sourcing. Even though designers may not use it, they want that and that is probably why certain tools, I'm not gonna name them that have introduced the last two or three years that are phenomenal.
Millions of dollars being spent are not being utilized, as you know, predominantly integrations are not, they're just not being used because they're limiting the, the creativity, uh, to a handful of skews that some designers just don't want,
Evan Troxel: Right.
Yeah. Fascinating stuff, man. I, I, I really applaud how you have tied together the software and the hard goods side of things and a little bit differently than most companies are operating on that are, come onto this show for sure, which is they're strictly offering a, a software product or a, a [00:56:00] platform or a SaaS tool or whatever it is. You're actually. You've built a marketplace that revolves around real world objects, giving them even, you know, a selection of those, a second life, this opportunity to get further used. And that to me is, is a fascinating take on solving problems for this industry. And it, it really, to me shows a level of, uh, you know, just commitment to actually delivering on this promise of. The circular economy sustainability, you're not just making a tool that makes it possible. You're actually connecting more dots down the line to fulfill those things, to find a second home or a, a third home or whatever it might be, so that they can get used and extend the life of these things so that they don't end up in a landfill. And I think that that is, uh, it's a truly an amazing story, but also a model that I hope others can figure out ways to, you know, their take on that, not even in the same [00:57:00] Lane as you guys, but there's so many other lanes in the building industry that need to go in this direction. I, I think that, that, it's a
fascinating model and I, I applaud
Lance Amato: Yeah, that's great. Thank you.
Evan Troxel: Well, anything else that we missed? Lance, I, I know that you guys have, have been rolling things out. I, I just really want to, you know, the call to action I think here is,
is to get people
to check it out, check out
tool, see what
it can do. Just show up with a floor
Lance Amato: an account and
Evan Troxel: Bring a floor plan, bring, bring your own floor, plan B Y o f l, and, and sign into Canoa.
Drop it in there and just start laying stuff out and just get a, a sense of what, what it can do. Because even if you're not gonna use it on a project right now, at least you know what's possible. And I think just by doing, you know, spending 20 minutes in there is really gonna open your eyes to, to maybe, maybe how things should be, but also. Start, get your gears turning on how you could use it on a project, you know, in the future,
in the near future, hopefully.
tell people how they
do that. [00:58:00]
Lance Amato: Very simple. You go onto www.Canoa C.A.N.O.A. Supply. You sign up for free in the upper right hand corner. It takes a total of 10 seconds to do, and that's it.
Evan Troxel: Did it myself. I, I, i, I was blown away by how easy that was. It, it's beautiful. So,
Canoa.supply is the link. I'll put the link to that in the show notes. I'll put a link to Pinging Lance about your, uh, weird
use of, of loving typing things into Excel
Lance Amato: please do.
Evan Troxel: so that, you can have that conversation with him and, uh, and links to Canoa and all different things in there as well on, on LinkedIn and on social media.
So, Lance, thanks so much for taking the time to share with us today. I, I appreciate
it. It's good to catch up. After two
and a half
Lance Amato: No. Lovely. Thank you so much.