140: ‘You Had Me at Anger’, with Håvard Vasshaug

A conversation with Håvard Vasshaug.

140: ‘You Had Me at Anger’, with Håvard Vasshaug

About this Episode:

Håvard Vasshaug of Anker joins the podcast to talk about his passion for AEC tech and the challenges in the industry. He tells the story of his journey with the Bad Monkeys, Reope, and Anker, and we also chat a lot about why it’s healthy to be dissatisfied—angry even—at the software we all use. We also cover change management, BIM and the necessity of consistent and quality data, and the problems he and the team are currently solving at Anker regarding the use of BIM in operations and facilities maintenance. We conclude with a discussion on the future of BIM and the potential for liberating architects and engineers from data management tasks and bad software.

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140: ‘You Had Me at Anger’, with Håvard Vasshaug
Håvard Vasshaug of Anker joins the podcast to talk about his passion for AEC tech and the challenges in the industry. He tells the story of his journey with…

Episode Transcript:

140: ‘You Had Me at Anger’, with Håvard Vasshaug

Evan Troxel: [00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to the TRXL podcast. I'm Evan Troxel. In this episode, I welcome Håvard Vasshaug. He may be... checking notes here... uh, he is the first Viking to come on the show. Håvard loves building and implementing better tools for the AEC industry together with fun people, and converts that passion as value for their community and clients as a serial entrepreneur, having founded and co-founded Anker, Reope, and Bad Monkeys.

After recording this session, Håvard and I had lunch together at Autodesk University, which has now come and gone, but we didn't talk about the subjects you might think. And I know he won't mind me saying this here. It was about our personal lives, relationships, mental health, and training fitness, and other topics in that realm.

In other words, we talked about the things that really matter, and it was fantastic. And I [00:01:00] really valued our time together.

When I originally reached out to Håvard about coming on the show, he asked what we'd be talking about. And I said one word. Anger. Before hitting record when we did the podcast and then again at the table at AU, he reiterated, you had me at anger. Of course, we talked about it in this episode. Håvard says that having had two breakdowns during his time as an entrepreneur, he's developed an interest due to pure necessity in dedicating time to mental training and fitness.

We talked about strategies and shared interest in the work andrew Huberman and Sam Harris among others are doing in the area of breathing exercises, cool water exposure, meditation, physical exercise, sleep, time away from social media and connected devices, and more.

In this episode, we talk about why Håvard is so passionate about what he does, which was of particular interest to me, and was first [00:02:00] brought to my attention when I saw his hiring video posted to YouTube, which I have a link to in the show notes. He tells the story of his journey in architecture first, working at Snohetta, then moving into AEC tech with the Bad Monkeys, Reope, and now Anker. We chat a lot about why it's healthy to be dissatisfied mad, even at the software we all use.

We also covered the topics of change management, BIM and the necessity of consistent quality data and the problems he and the team are currently solving at Anker regarding the use of BIM in operations and facilities management. Finally, we conclude with a discussion on the future of BIM and the potential for liberating architects and engineers from data management tasks and bad software.

This was a fantastic conversation with Håvard and I came away from it feeling energized and really excited to share it with you. I hope you'll not only find value [00:03:00] in it for yourself, but that you'll help add value to the profession by sharing it with your network, leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts for the show. And don't forget, you can now leave me feedback at the link in the show notes. So without further ado, I bring you my conversation with Håvard Vasshaug.

Evan Troxel: Håvard, welcome to the podcast and, and thank you for joining me today.


Håvard Vasshaug: Thank you for inviting me, Evan.

Evan Troxel: I am looking forward to our conversation. You have some opinionated views on the AEC industry, right? the face, the, no, you, you own that. I mean, it's, it's, there's no apologies. And I, I, remember watching a video, you did a hiring video that you put up on YouTube, and in that video, you are looking for [00:04:00] people who have a similar bent on the industry because you want to see change happen, right?

You're looking for people, and I'm gonna crib from my notes here, who are angry and dissatisfied with the status quo. You're, you, you are looking for people who are mad at the software that we all have to use and are passionate about change. And I think those things kind of, I. ,they, you embody that because you're, you want to see things get better.

And I mean, and that is really why we critique our industry, right? Is, is because it's not like we're unfairly being critical of it. But, and, and you much more than me, uh, you're, you're outspoken in that way because you're so passionate about change. I would love to know where that comes from. And so maybe in order to get there, tell us what, how you've gotten to where you are in our industry and through your, through your trajectory, through life.

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah. Um,

[00:05:00] it's always a little bit difficult to figure out where you start, um, because it can be so many different places. Um, in, in my life, I remember I have a, I have a beautiful fiance at home whom I met at a BIM conference actually in Dublin, um, uh, years ago. We just gave birth to a, a beautiful daughter last week, uh, which I already shared with you. So it's been eventful a couple of days. But, uh, home with my fiance right now is my mom and, and my mom was explaining to, uh, I remember one time a few years ago, my mom was explaining to my fiance.

Uh, how is ? You know, what, what am I like? And I think she gave like a really short and accurate summary is that I'm curious and creative and passionate and angry and, uh,[00:06:00]

I, uh, I, I don't know. I should probably talk to someone about that. Um, someone , professional

Evan Troxel: is, this is a therapy session right here.

It often is.

Håvard Vasshaug: Well, do you have an education in

Evan Troxel: it?

Håvard Vasshaug: I

Evan Troxel: don't

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah. Maybe it helps. Maybe I, uh, wake up, uh, tomorrow morning and feel like a, a burden of my shoulders. I don't know where that anger comes from. Like, honestly, I can remember it from all the way, like for as long as I can remember, uh, even from my childhood, whether it was a friend who didn't want to do what I did.

Uh, or there was something I was trying to do that didn't work. Um, always get like, get, get, get pretty mad. It probably has something to do with my mom and dad and we don't have to go into into that. I think most things have to do, uh, with your background and childhood. But [00:07:00] like I, I was always, I was always frustrated with, I would EI would get easily frustrated with what I was doing, especially if it was like boring and, um, repetitive and, and manual and always curious about what could be better.

Um, I'm a little bit surprised that that got its manifestation in CAD and BIM and this like three D design space because I was never a computer guy. I, I liked computer games as kid, but I. It was all like coincidences that led me into the CAD and BIM world. Um, I guess I liked it because it reminded me of things that I liked as a kid playing with Legos and using the creativity.

but yeah, I would always get annoyed when something was not working and, and get like when something was [00:08:00] clearly suboptimal. Um, really trying hard, uh, to, you know, push through, uh, and, and try to figure out a way to do it. and I suppose when we made that recruitment video, um, what happened, this is a few years ago, and, and that really is funny side story, but that really changed, turned everything upside down for us, um,

Evan Troxel: Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: because I think it really struck a nerve.

Um, . And what was happening in that recruitment video is that of course I'd written a script before together with the creative director and the cinematographer and, uh, we were going to, you know, have talking points. Um, and the lady, Jordan is her name, I, she was the creative director of that session. She kept poking me because she couldn't [00:09:00] really see the passion I was reading from a script and like, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Yeah. Yeah. Um, and then I started getting annoyed with her poking me, and I think we did like 10, 11 recordings. And then, uh, and, and then I just kind of, I didn't let the script go completely, but, uh, I, I kind of went, uh, off, uh, off track and, uh, and, and, and poked into that, uh, anger. Um. . So yeah, I, I think people liked it a little bit because it felt something real and it felt real to me when I was talking about it.

And, and, uh, I've been trying to use that to do constructive things.

Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm

Håvard Vasshaug: that anger can be destructive, of course,

Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: like as everyone knows, you can channel that drive to different things and [00:10:00] I try to channel it to, to good things. And, and that for me, over the years has become trying to improve processes in ACI suppose, like digital design processes.

Evan Troxel: The, the difference between being cynical and like attracting other cynical people and going down. You know, that's a, that goes very far. It goes very deep. If it's like a spiral, the downward spiral, and then there's channeling that into passion to make things better and using it as a catalyst, but then leaving it behind and saying, how can we make this better?

Those are two very different paths, and

so I'm sure you have to be very discerning with the kind of people who raise their hand after seeing a video like that, because you're gonna get both kinds of

responses. You're gonna get people who are like, yeah, the world is on fire. There's nothing we can do about it.

Let's talk about how bad it is and just keep talking about how bad it is. the people who are like, [00:11:00] yep, it's screwed up. We're gonna fix it. And, and so I'm, I'm interested from a people perspective, because one thing I noticed with you is that on LinkedIn you're posting pictures of people, the people that you meet, the people that are on your team, the people that are making a difference.

And so clearly you've chosen the path of like, how, how can we as people who are like purposed, make this a better situation? Not just for us, not just for anchor and reopen, you know, the, the companies that you're participating in, but, but for the industry, I'm interested from a people perspective, how you're discerning the difference so that you can get the right people, the best people on your team to catalyze a better future.

Håvard Vasshaug: In different ways. I would say over the years we've changed our processes. Uh, every time we do a recruitment campaign and every time there's a chance to hire someone, that process has [00:12:00] changed. I think the first time I ever hired someone, it was someone that I knew very well. They were already, like, his name is Josten already, kind of like a dynamo person in the, in the global Dynamo community.

So it was like a no-brainer to hire him. Um, and then as we matured as companies and organizations, I think our process . Uh, also, uh, matured and changed. So way back then, when we kind of went viral with that first recruitment campaign, that was actually triggered by the fact that Sain, my first employee, he, uh, he, uh, told me he's leaving.

And I kind of freaked out and said, let's do, uh, . Let's, let's do a, a campaign and see if anyone is out there. And there were a lot of people out there. I think we, we got, we, I was massively overwhelmed with the amount of applications, and I still meet people, uh, at conferences [00:13:00] who approached me and say, Hey, I, I applied for a job at your company and I didn't get it.

Uh, , I'm sorry. I was totally overwhelmed. Uh, then I think probably close to 200 applications and we're all like PDFs in emails and I didn't have any system to handle it. So I suppose, hmm. . Over the years, I've learned that it's, it's good to rely on other people in the organization to do the evaluation together with you because, uh, I'm a gut feeling person.

I'll talk to you maybe two, three times and then get a gut feeling, of course, after like a screening process where you're looking at the background and trying to figure out what, what, what kind of work you have and will they be happy doing it? But, um, it's, it's not so easy to do it alone, to figure out alone.

Uh, if you [00:14:00] just, uh, find someone who is just complaining and who don't want to really contribute to anything. Just like maybe socializing with like-minded people. Uh.

Evan Troxel: right?

Håvard Vasshaug: or if you want to, if, if you're talking to someone who actually wants to contribute. I think in that one recruitment video that we're talking about now, a few times, I mentioned specifically that I was looking for angry people who wanted to channel that anger into something positive.

So I

kind of hope also that did some filtering. But yeah, I'm very happy that recruitment or like, I don't know if I love that word so much, but reaching out to people and getting people to join your, on your campaign, uh, is something that I think that we've been able to do quite successfully. Not 100%, I don't think anyone does [00:15:00] it 100%, but that, that part we got right.

Evan Troxel: It's interesting how you describe what you're doing as a campaign. I mean, and, and so I think the word recruitment kind of fits because this feels very much like you're trying to build a team, build an army, right? Of, of like purposed. And I make the, the distinction between like-minded and like purposed, because I do agree that like, like-mindedness. There might be too much latching onto a feeling or an emotion,

but the purpose is what really locks you in step with somebody else when you are trying to make a difference in our industry, for example,

Håvard Vasshaug: Hmm.

Evan Troxel: and this whole idea of you having a campaign for a better future in our industry, I, I'm interested why that is the path that you've decided to go down.

You said earlier that you don't even know how it ended up [00:16:00] in CAD and BIM and technology. It just, it did. And so, and, but you choose to continue down that path, and so where does that come from?

Håvard Vasshaug: I think it comes from a combination of curiosity and drive. I, again, maybe going back to my mom's image of how I was as a child. I

Evan Troxel: Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: imagine though, memory gets blurry with the years. I imagine that I was, I would probably as a five year old be on the floor all day with like a 10,000 pieces of Legos. and just building stuff all day long, almost like obsessively, um, and never stop and singing.

Well, I, I have three brothers and we all like play Legos on the floor, uh, singing while we were doing it. So that was a cool social [00:17:00] thing.

Evan Troxel: That's awesome.

Håvard Vasshaug: Um,

Evan Troxel: very cool.

Håvard Vasshaug: and I, I suppose it's the same thing. I know if, if you interviewed me when I was a five year old and ask, Hey, a five year old Hova, why are you doing this? I think I'd have a really hard time explaining it.

I, I am,

I like it.

Evan Troxel: It's who you

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah. I like, like building new things. I think it, yeah. So I like building new things. I don't need external motivation when I'm doing it. That just drives itself. Um, and I absolutely, I. love doing it together with fun people who are also singing like My Brothers

Evan Troxel: Nice.

Håvard Vasshaug: So, so maybe it's that I, I'm thinking now, and I'm explaining this, I'm thinking, oh, you probably, I didn't change at all since I was five years old, but hopefully

Evan Troxel: You're the same person.

Well, it's, it's interesting to think about how you've chosen [00:18:00] Software

and people to do the building with

versus things, right? Like making things, making things with your hands that are, you know, analog,

physical versus digital. Virtual is, those are completely different. I, I honestly, I see myself in both worlds very strongly. I love figuring out a puzzle in software writing, a little bit of code. I don't code very much, or I love building a, a digital model. Uh, I love stringing together pieces of software for workflows and automation and, but I also just really love making real stuff too.

Like I recently moved to southern Oregon. I've got a shop I'm going to be making, I'm like, outfitting it right now so that I can make real stuff. And I do remodeling and I like working on cars and, and so I'm very much in the physical and the digital world when it comes to being creative. And I often see myself. In my identity, more in the [00:19:00] physical world of making than in the digital world. But the honest truth is I'm way more making things in the digital world, like

podcasts, like this, making content, things like that. Um, so it's funny because I always want the thing that I'm not doing the most of, I I, most

Håvard Vasshaug: Truth of life.

Evan Troxel: like that. Yeah, yeah. Right? If you have curly hair, you want straight hair.

If you, it's like, it, it's always the thing that you're not doing. I think that, that you long for, at least in my, in my experience.

And so you, you've gone the people and the, the, you've gone the people and the software side of things versus the Lego side of things. Right. And,

and so you have changed a little bit, but

what is it that is so powerful about software and people that has caused you to stay on this path?

Håvard Vasshaug: Well, first of all, I think that I really realized that I liked [00:20:00] it. I really, there was something that really hit the nerve inside the me the first time, . , I realized that there was something I can do on the keyboard and the mouse that turned my two d AutoCAD into a three D model. I, I think I can remember that time because that's how it happened.


Evan Troxel: Hmm. That was the aha

Håvard Vasshaug: yeah. Wow. three dimensions. And this looks my, like, my Legos and I was kind of, I was not a computer guy, but I was kind of like, yeah, liked, liked playing computer games, I suppose. Um,

Evan Troxel: Yeah. Yeah.

Håvard Vasshaug: and then, uh, this happened at the same time as I was having like a real hard time getting motivated for more and more and more advanced.

Theoretical calculations in structural engineering school. I was in the university, I was getting a master's in structural engineering. The first years [00:21:00] were easy peasy. It was like math and physics and, you know, some science, even philosophy and, uh, like being curious. That was, I remember I had like social anthropology and I really found that fascinating.

And then, uh, when I got to my, like third, fourth year, uh, it started getting really, really, uh, heavy on the engineering structural calculation. Um,

Evan Troxel: Uhhuh.

Håvard Vasshaug: and uh, and then I was just like, oh, fading out. Oh my God, this is not, this is not me. You know, imagine the Lego guy on the floor singing and then

Evan Troxel: Mm mm-Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: calculation, calculating, calculating all this math and uh, and so around the same time.

uh, like everything in my life is a coin coincidence. I, I, I don't know how to say it in any other way, but I had a friend who said like, this, you should check out this professor up here in Roham, uh, [00:22:00] in a place called T Halt. And, uh, I did, and, and it was treaty modeling. It was the first time I saw three D modeling.

I was already exposed to CAD due to like summer internships.

Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: and then when I, uh, when this professor said we were going to three D model something, and I, I started poking around in AutoCAD and three DS Max, um, there was something there that really struck a nerve. I, I liked it. I, I liked it a lot more than structural calculations.

So then blah, blah, blah. You know, we could probably, uh, talk about that for like a week. But, uh, uh, long story short. I get into working, become a structural engineer. Guess what? This calculations are still as boring as they were before . And, uh, and, uh, my ex-girlfriend broke up with me. I had to move. Friend of mine said there's a job available at this, like, uh, [00:23:00] uh, AutoCAD Training Center.

And, uh, I took that job and started doing courses in, uh, three D modeling in AutoCAD. So that, that's how I got into that. But yeah, I think I just really, I liked computers. I liked, I'm kind of like also a person who likes to live in like a fantasy world. I like seeing movies, I like reading books. I like Interstellar.

I like movies like that. Um, so doing whatever I can do inside a computer also, fed that passion, I suppose. You know, that the Legos were great, but they had obvious limitations, you know, gravity and uh, stuff like that. And then I dug a bunch of snow caves around my mom's house when I was a kid.

Also has limitations, structural limitations and thermal limitations. So that like being [00:24:00] able to live that fantasy world inside of three D software where you could do anything. Made a bunch of things explode in three ds max. I kind of, I kind of like that. So that is, that, that's, uh, these are the triggers I suppose, that I can see now.

You know, then I wasn't aware of what was happening. But

when you, when you look back, you see very clearly the moments that made you go to A instead of B, and then make these choices sliding doors.

Evan Troxel: It's, it's interesting to me that it reminds me of the, there's this old chart that I've seen online where it scientists had mapped different species of animals, and it was like, I can't remember what the criteria were, but it was like humans were, were very low. I think you had to do something with speed. Um, and so, you [00:25:00] know, there's like cheetahs and falcons and there's these animals that are. incredible things. And then there's humans, right? But then, but then there was, the one anomaly was humans with a bicycle on this chart. And it was like, if a human's on a bike, and obviously it's all analog, they're pushing themselves, but they can achieve, you know, compared to what they can without it, it's no competition. And so he was using, Steve Jobs, was using this analogy as for the computer, right? And saying it's like, it's like a bicycle for the mind, right?

It's not like a bicycle for your mobility. It's, it's for your mind. And what you're talking about is this artist palette that can do, that can make you anything that you want to be, right?


you could blow things up in three DS max, right? You

could, you apply those modifiers and those plugins and all of a sudden you're a, you're a visual effects artist, maybe at

the lowest rung of the ladder, but you're still working your way towards [00:26:00] something or you're drawing, you're, you're drawing floor plans. For architecture or your painting or, you know, there's so many different things that you can use this tool for and it is so easy to manipulate just by changing whatever piece of software you're using,

you can actually do all of those things

also. Right.

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah.

Evan Troxel: That to me is the, the hardest part is picking one thing, right?

There's, I want to do all the things I wanna do all of them. And, and it's, it's really interesting to think about this tool that inspires you to then make a difference in an industry, right? And to

use it as a tool to make a difference in an industry. Like one of the things that you said in that hiring video is you want people who are mad at the software. That is probably their livelihood.


Håvard Vasshaug: Hmm.

Evan Troxel: And why, why would I, I'm gonna let you answer this question. Why should some, why should someone step [00:27:00] back from their day-to-Day, their, you know, I've gotta use this tool to get this job done. Why should they step back and actually like, take a look at the landscape of their life and say, you know what?

This is suboptimal and I should not accept this. Why, why, why do you want people who to step back and look at that? Because I think this is kind of the key that gets us into the next segment of

the conversation, which is what you are doing about it and, and how you're going about that. But, but why is it that people need to step back and actually evaluate the current situation of the things that they're doing every day and, and why they should not accept that?

Håvard Vasshaug: I, I don't think that everyone will, and I, I don't

expect that everyone is as, uh, driven as me about, uh, the tools that we are using. Luckily, there are still a lot of architects and engineers who care about [00:28:00] architecture and engineering. Uh, and maybe less about the, the design and documentation tools. I mean, um,

I suppose it depends a little bit about who you want to be and what kind of life you want. . . I think that if you're a person who

is curious and who is open to new things, um, it really makes sense for me to make this one life that I have on the planet to be about something meaningful to me. Uh, that I, I just don't go around life and just do what is put in front of me. Oh, here's your computer, here's your rabbit, [00:29:00] here's your thing.

Go to work. And I'm totally fine with people wanting that. Like I, I have friends who go to work at nine o'clock in the morning and then go home at four 30 and then like that, it is just, you know, this is to get money. Um,

Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: but if you are not that kind of person, if you're a person who actually . , you know, maybe we all have that work thing in our life.

You know, the, you have family, you have friends, you have cats, you have, uh, work. Uh, and that work is like somewhere on your importance bar. And for me, it's quite high. Um,

Evan Troxel: Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: I care about my work. I care very deeply about what I'm doing. And if, and if you do that, then I think it's, uh, it, you should, um, not always just take the easy way, um, but poke into what's more difficult.

The easy thing is to consider [00:30:00] continuous always and as normal, and don't say anything. Be quiet. Do your job, go home. And it's more difficult, of course, to, to, um, shake things up and to step back and, and look at the landscape and do, and try to do something about it. Absolutely.

Evan Troxel: Forge a different path. Yeah.

And it speaks back to that intrinsic motivation that you talked about earlier and

being able to figure out the path as you go versus just sitting back waiting to be told what to do. Like those are two very different mindsets. And there's actually a really great book called Mindset, I think it's by Carol Dweck, and it really talks about intrinsic motivation in versus external motivation and

how there's, you can't People who do not have intrinsic motivation cannot become intrinsically motivated without their themselves trying to make that happen, right?

It has to come from within,

which is like a, this [00:31:00] is a, what do they call that? It's like, it's like that, that's probably not gonna happen, right? Because because if there's no intrinsic motivation, you can't get motivated to become intrinsically motivated.

You, there are people who only accept external motivation, and

Håvard Vasshaug: I, I

think, sorry.

Evan Troxel: ahead.


Håvard Vasshaug: uh, I, I don't think I've read the entire book, but I think one of Carol Dweck's points is that you can create the cultures, uh, for people around you. Uh, uh, that makes it easier for them to,

uh, tap into that passion.

Evan Troxel: Right. Right. And, and I mean, the truth is, is that not everybody should be one or the other, right? I mean, there's, I think that might be a point of confusion is, is that we, we see it as the right way. Whatever the way is that you're representing in this case, and therefore other people should follow the right way.

But the truth

is, you need, you need both people, right?

In a business [00:32:00] especially, you need both people. You need the people who show up every day and don't complain and do the thing that needs to be done, and then they leave

whatever le leaving time is, and, but there's so consistent and they just do it day after day after day. They make the space for people like you to do what you do.

Håvard Vasshaug: Hmm.

Evan Troxel: Yeah. And to me that's a very important thing to say out loud, which is to say like, no, we don't all need to be the entrepreneur. We don't all need to be the innovator. We can't, I mean that we've all seen the innovator curve, right? we've all seen too many times. There's a very small percentage of people at the front end of that curve, and there's a small percentage at the back end of that curve. But most people are in the middle. And it's, it's one of those things, I shouldn't say, did I say adopter curve or innovate a curve? It's the adoption curve, right? Um, but the idea of, of, trying to convince somebody to become something that they're not

is like, where does that go?[00:33:00]

It goes, it goes nowhere, right? It's, uh, it's just one of those things that it's just like a rule of life and you have to accept people for who they are and but also understand that they add value to the total equation.

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah,

Evan Troxel: What, however, they are wired.

Håvard Vasshaug: absolutely. Uh, 100%. And if, uh, I, I would never, ever, ever try to force someone to be

that person, you know? Oh, you should look at what you're doing and you should like, uh, uh,

innovate or change your tool or whatever. But, um, uh, so I agree 100%, but I think that maybe that's not the problem. I think maybe the problem is the opposite, that there are people sitting around who have that drive inside, uh, who wanna do something, but, uh.

Uh, the step or the immediate opportunities around, or the culture around you, or like A, B, C, D, E reasons, [00:34:00] uh, they, they don't act. Uh, or, you know, maybe you need the security of your job. There can be like so many different reasons why, why people are not doing it. So, so I, while I, I completely agree, we can't have like, just angry innovators,

Evan Troxel: Right,

Håvard Vasshaug: um, but I think that we could have a few more, uh, and that wouldn't hurt.

Evan Troxel: I agree. There's people waiting for permission in some states, right?

They're just, they're just sitting around waiting for someone to notice

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah.

Evan Troxel: and invite them in, uh,

and, and a video like yours or, you know, the, the messaging like yours creates the space for people to say, Hey, that that's me. And there, that's all they needed to

reach out to you.

Like you said, you got 200 people, uh, wanting to apply for that

position, right? And. You probably didn't think there was gonna be that many applications for that. You probably thought you were on the extreme end [00:35:00] and it was gonna be a a, a small number of people, but it does show you that they are there

and they are waiting for the opportunity to, to raise their hand, I

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah. And they, I didn't think it was going to be that many people. And, uh, look at, at the time, uh, we were four people, uh, at the company then called Bad Monkeys Norway. And, uh, and, uh, one of them had quit . So, and, uh, with this shitty office, uh, this office is much better than, than what we had. Uh, so I didn't feel like I had a lot to offer, but we had a growing, uh, list of jobs and some really, really, really

Cool people, although few, but, uh, you know, when you're, when you're three and you get 200 applications, uh, and I really have to say the, the level of passion and skills [00:36:00] and knowledge among those applications was mind blowing. I was completely knocked on the floor. So, uh, so, so, so yeah. Lucky and good, I suppose.

Evan Troxel: Did anybody respond to your video with another video? What, or was it all like the standard application type thing? With, with a a, a resume? PDF? Did anybody make their own video

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah, I reremember I remember one

that wa that, that was a interesting application. Uh,

Evan Troxel: Was it

Håvard Vasshaug: yeah, I, I won't go into the, the details, but uh, yeah, that was one video that I remember fondly.

Evan Troxel: That's cool. I, I I want you to take us through the, timeline of bad monkeys and beyond,

so maybe you can talk about the last decade. I don't know. You, you take us back to wherever you feel like that story starts and, [00:37:00] and get us caught up to, to where you are now.

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah. I'll, I'll try to do it, uh, as short as possible. Um,

um, so remember that I'm curious, uh, social, I like building things. I like new things. So, um, being this like emerging BIM expert in Norway, uh, which I, I was, I started poking into the global BIM communities. I found some books. I found some blogs. I went to Autodesk University in 2008. That was, uh. An opener in many ways.

Evan Troxel: Hmm

Håvard Vasshaug: And I was curious about the Revit Forum. I haven't been there in a long time, but, uh, there were a lot of people who interacted and teaching each other how to do different things in Revit back in the day. I, um, and, um,[00:38:00]

when I think even it was in the same year, I'm not sure exactly which year it was, but it was in the first year of, um, the conference, RTC, uh,

had its first European conference, uh, that that event is now called Built. Um, and the first time it was in Europe, it was in LFT in Netherlands. And uh, I met a French guy called Julian Benoit who was working mm, don't remember the name of the company, but it doesn't matter.

Um. And he had just gotten into Dynamo. So Dynamo was really, really new. Uh, and um, um, uh, I think it was, this was even before the Dynamo forums and around the same time I met Marcelos, Kalu, um, the famous au uh, presenter, uh, at AU and got to know him a little [00:39:00] bit and he was also getting into Dynamo at the time.

I think we were all like pushing the limits to what Revit was able to do with the computational modeling tools and all these like, adaptive components.

Evan Troxel: right.

Håvard Vasshaug: so I suppose we were all like curious about Dynamo, but there was no Dynamo forum, uh, if I remember correctly. So I. , I figured that it would be good for us to have some place to communicate because there was no one at my company or even in my country who were, who was doing this.

And I was not a very good programmer. So I, I needed a lot of help and inspiration. So I, I asked the Marcelo and Julianne, if they wanted to do to-do list, like group for me. I remember the, the, uh, inspiration that I had all the way in the beginning was like a bachelor party. How you, how you organize a bachelor party.

You get people together and then you get them to like, interact and communicate about how things are done. So in the beginning it was a Facebook group, and then what was cool about it [00:40:00] was that, um, uh, Julian said, not me. Julian said, we should probably invite Andreas Deman, the founder of, or the, the creator of the Clockwork package in, in Dynamo.

And, um. and we did, and then Andreas came on board and he said, we should probably invite this, uh, tall Polish guy in New York, Conrad Zon. And we did, and Conrad say, oh, there's Adam Sheeter in Australia. And Adam said, you should check out Dimitar Vanko. He's in Singapore. And then, and that's kind of how it, uh, how it developed organically.

And we reached kind of like a critical mass, I suppose around 7, 8, 9. There were some different people in and out, uh, around the time in the beginning. But um, uh, and then during those first years on the Dynamo forums and when Dynamo was like spiking at the different conferences, um, we [00:41:00] really interacted a lot.

Every day I go back and see those, uh, chats. And every day it was like long, long, long, long, long chats about different things, uh, in Dynamo, in Revit, in the packages, and like how we all kind of hated our jobs . Um,

Evan Troxel: Commiserating

Håvard Vasshaug: a lot of complaining

Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: Um, and, uh, yeah. Uh, so we got to know each other pretty well.

Traveling around in different conferences. We started doing presentations and labs together at conferences. Um, I think we did, we did a quadruple lab, but built one time, both me, Julian, and Adam and Marcelo. And, um, and, and it, it became like a strong group, uh, with an identity. And then of course, it was only a matter of time, uh, before some of us started, uh, talking about [00:42:00] the commercial potential of this, uh, thing.

Uh, the thing that we were doing so that, that led to, uh, uh, a lot of talks, some blind alleys. Uh, I suppose bad monkeys never became a company at some point in time. ISI think that a lot, uh, uh, quite a few of us were thinking it was going to be, but uh, um, I think this is probably around 2017, 16, 17, 18. Um, I'm not sure, but, uh, uh, a few of us were getting a little bit restless, um, and, um.

I remember meeting Adam Sheeter at, uh, one Autodesk University, maybe it was in 17. Um, and he was thinking about leaving his company. I was thinking about leaving my company and we kind of like, we're talking about it together. And then I went home from au a couple of weeks passed and [00:43:00] I was thinking, oh, I, I have to do it.

So we ended up being several bad monkeys companies in different countries and we were collaborating on some jobs and we were trying to differentiate geographically. Wow. Geographically. Um, so Conrad would handle North America. Me and Dimitar handle Europe. Dimitar moved to Europe. Uh, Andreas and Julianne were not really into the entrepreneurship, so they still there had had their jobs.

um, and Adam, uh, started the what is now automation in, in Australia, and we were all kind of four, four bad monkeys companies sometimes collaborating and sometimes not. And then, um, as you can imagine, um, as these companies started growing, uh, it was, uh, uh, only a matter of time before we started like doing a little [00:44:00] bit of different things.

Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm. . Mm-Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: and that was around the time when we were like three, four people here at the Bad Monkeys Company in Norway together with Dimitar, who is still and was done in Bulgaria. Um, is when we, we decided to do rebranding in Norway and create Rio, uh, which was, we were supposed to do it. We, we did the recruitment campaign.

We hired a marketing agency. And we told them we need the rebranding process. We're called Bad Monkeys, but there's all these other bad monkeys companies and we do our thing and we want like another entity. Yeah. Like want the website to say exactly what we're doing and who we are. Um, and then as I said before, you'll stay in my, my, my first employee quit and I called the marketing agency and said, Hey, hey, hey, hold on.

We, we have to wait with the rebranding and do a recruitment first

Evan Troxel: Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: [00:45:00] So that was around the same time. And then we launched reopen and uh, and, and today have a very, very good and peaceful and productive and fun interaction with the different companies in the Bad Monkeys Constellation. And actually is pretty cool is that, um, all the people who join our companies and

Whether they are still in the companies or if they leave, they are still in that group. So I think probably have like 30, 40 people now in the Bad Monkeys group, uh, who are all current and former employees or founders of any of these companies.

Evan Troxel: Yeah. That's cool. And, and then I'm glad you brought all that up because it, it has been confusing from the outside looking in and seeing Bad monkeys here. Bad monkeys there. And it was like, and Conrad's been on the show, and Matt, who was with automation was on the show as well. And

I think it's always just been this, we've never gotten to the, I've never [00:46:00] asked the right question to get to the bottom of that.

So that was, that was great to hear all that. But now you're, so Rio was launched branded, and now there's Anchor. And so now what's the difference in, in what's going on there?

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah. Um, real. Is the original Bad Monkeys company in Norway, which basically became, or probably was from day one, a consultancy firm. Um, my, so my, basically my idea, my business ID from when I was working at Snohetta, uh, my last like, uh, job, um, was that, um, there was a market potential in supporting small and medium sized architectural firms and engineering firms with development services.[00:47:00]

Uh, a lot of small firms don't have like a BIM coder department,

the big firms, a lot of them do, uh, although there's a lot of complexity around that as well. But, um, a lot of people . A normal architectural firm with like 30 employees. They normally have like one dynamo guy and maybe one a few computational designers with Grasshopper.

Um, but did they have very little support in their organizations to take their code to the next level and build like scalable applications, maybe a Revit that in or something like that, that you can take out to your colleagues together with documentation. So that was my idea to like offer that service and uh, and I felt that it was always a, a great idea because the market was there, the wave of programming, architects and engineers was real, and tens of thousands of people were getting into visual programming.[00:48:00]

Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: Um, and a lot of people were having a hard time building, you know, tools that you could use more than once. Um. . And uh, I think I said a long time ago on a different podcast that it, it was like, my idea was that the clients themself could build a dynamo script and then send it to us, and we would understand the, the logic in it immediately.

Because we know Revit, we know Dynamo, we know architecture and engineering, and then we could build a scalable application based on it very quickly. And, uh, and yeah, in many ways that's still what we do, still what Rio does, um, there's also this like, funny thing about running a company is that, um, I don't think we were ever extremely [00:49:00] strict on what we do and what we don't do.

So. My mindset in the beginning was always to just say yes and then figure out how to do it later. You know, as long as it's not making pizza or something like that. It, um,

Evan Troxel: you could figure that out.

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah, probably . I don't know if you would pay me to do it, but, uh, that's a different question. Uh, so, uh, uh, and then all of a sudden Spacemaker called us and Spacemaker asked us, Hey, do you guys have any architects to know programming and maybe computational design?

And I said, yes. And then, uh, um, yeah. Uh, so it like software companies called me and said, Hey, do you know anyone who knows the Revit API? Yes. And so today Rio has, uh, a list of clients and the list of services that spans quite wide, uh, based on this [00:50:00] mindset of we're saying yes. So with it's . We have pretty advanced software developers who are more like software developers than even computational designers or like people who are in web, web technology and databases.

Um, and then we have more like BIM managers, uh, in the company who manage processes and people, and then also people in between. So there's like a pretty nice scale of different people at Rio today that is like doing different things and have different strengths and weaknesses. Um, yeah. And then,

Evan Troxel: Can I, can I just jump in here before you continue on? And I'm just wondering, with the problems that you're solving at reopen, are those the things that looping back to your hiring video, that should be mad at? Like you're solving the problems of things that are making people's lives difficult[00:51:00]

throughout the process?

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah. . Yeah. But today, not just that because, uh, because of this mindset of always saying yes, so sometimes we're doing things that, uh, is good for business, but maybe it's not making a lot of people pissed. And, uh, sometimes, uh, we just help out some software company solving their problem. So, um, but at the, at the core, uh, at the core, I suppose it's a willingness or a drive to solve problems together with other people, uh, who share that same passion.

I would say that that is a, that's an important, yeah. How important attribute of, of reopen. And, uh, I think that there's lots and lots and lots of potential market potential. I. in native architects [00:52:00] and engineers with experience in the industry who know how to build a tool and who knows about automation, who understands BIM to, uh, to help out with specific solutions in different contexts.

Um, but eventually, and you might say in retrospect that it was only a matter of time before we really realized that, but that is exactly what happened. Uh, is that like three, two years ago, uh, we had been solving the same problem over and over again. Uh, not all of them. Like at the work that we did with spacemaker was different.

The work we did in some architectural firms and computational design was different. Um, but uh, it sometimes it feels like almost half of all the jobs that we were hired to do as consultants were, um, . , we didn't know it at the time, but we're like poking into this [00:53:00] problem that I now know, uh, that is, that that anchor is solving.


Evan Troxel: Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: that was the birth of anchor.

Evan Troxel: Perfect. Perfect segue. I, before we, I know I asked you about Anchor, so before we jump into that, give me kind of the top hit list of the things that you're solving that people should be. I. Upset about if they don't know that Rio exists or these other, these tools that you're building. Because I think a lot of times, again, to get back to this, you're, you're asking people to step back and evaluate. And it's hard to do that when you're in it, right? When you're deep in it all the time and it's just, you just accept it. This is the way that it is, and I've just gotta push through and same, same problem, different project. I just, this is the way that I know how to do it. I'm gonna keep doing it this way because they don't know their, they don't know what they don't know.

So what are the things that, if you were just to kind of list off the top three or the [00:54:00] top five things that people should be mad about, but not, maybe they don't realize that they're mad, that they should be mad about it because they just accepted it. Uh, what are those, what's that top list?

Håvard Vasshaug: Hmm. Tough question. I, uh, I always love how one of our very, very first clients ever came to us, and this was still when I was working at Snohetta, one of the biggest construction projects in Norway approached me at the time. They heard that I was freelancing and, uh, and then around the same time I was thinking of starting my own company.

So they actually became our, by far, biggest client, uh, over some time. And this was the new government quarters project in Norway. And they, uh, on that project, the BIM director, who is name is Morton Morada, he. [00:55:00] Came from another big project and he was really not happy with how, uh, Revit managed content across files.

Um, so he came to me with a direct approach and said, I'm not happy with how Revit manages content, content across files. Do you wanna look into building a solution as part of the design team on that project? So that was a really cool, really like I could not have asked for a better project, a better client, better problem, um, to work on in the beginning of, of this company.

And, and, uh, and that led to the, to the product today that is called Night Turner, that Rio sells as a licensed tool that

synchronizes families and types and Revit settings across files on a nightly schedule, uh, and saves people thousands of hours on, at least on, on big projects. So. [00:56:00] Um, all this stuff, all this boring, shitty stuff that people sit and do in these tools and not just Revit, all the BIM tools.

They have their strengths and weaknesses and they're kind of like old, old, old. Everyone is like now trying to figure out what is next. But like, if you go to the majority of architectural firms in the world, anywhere in the world, uh, on a good day, you will find a lot of people like doing things in Revit.

Um. and there's so much time wasted on like managing Revit data, managing Revit files, Revit, I don't know how many Revit Health Check applications there are in the market, but there's quite a lot

Evan Troxel: There's a lot.

Håvard Vasshaug: So there's so many

mistakes you can do and so many, like, you have to study this for like years before you really get good at Revit and, and, uh, [00:57:00] and I suppose like that, at least in the beginning, that was really what we were trying to help our clients be and being so like, kind of like being a, a, a team of experts who knew different things but all had the feet in AEC, uh, who you could talk to, uh, about these problems.

So that's, that's a lot of what we are doing every day. We have like a set of clients that we work with on a continuous basis and we develop a trusting relationship with these clients. Um, I. and then discuss all these things that are not really ideal. Every project is different, of course, in AC and every team is different and every nation is different, so it's always a new problem to solve.

Evan Troxel: It's interesting to me in an industry, especially on the architecture and the, the, you know, on the design team side, not necessarily the construction side, but the design team side, everything is based on hours, right? We sell time for money,

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah.

Evan Troxel: and yet there's this kind of deliberate, [00:58:00] um. Workflow that is, it's not improving.

It's like, I guess what I mean by deliberate is like it's this entrenched workflow because you do have the people in a firm, in a larger firm who are creating the dynamo graphs and the grasshopper graphs and they're saving time. But that, but you, you mentioned it earlier, they have a hard time implementing that at scale, bringing it to the rest of the team. There's also the kind of this attitude with a lot of the team, it's like, stop showing me new stuff. I don't, I can't be distracted with a new way of working because I

have so much work to do. And yet, like the conversation is, yeah, but you're wasting your time doing this stuff and you sell time for money.

Wouldn't you like to get some of your time back so that you can do other things? And it's a really tough battle to. To, I guess, communicate that in a coherent way that [00:59:00] people really understand that there is, there are better ways to do things. Software can help you achieve that when they're also trying to balance, just like, I gotta get this project out the door,


I have, and, and the way that I'm gonna do that is the way that I've always done it, because that's what I know, and this other distraction, I don't know about that. And so therefore there's some fear. And, you know, this is a, this internal battle that we're all seeing all over the place. And, and you're saying like, the goal is to create applications that can save people thousands of hours. And if an executive hears that, they're like Give it to me,

right. I will pay, I'll, I'll do it. But then getting it adopted and implemented in a, in a firm, in a real, on a project is so hard.

Right? And that's where BIM managers and directors in digital practice are having such a hard time pushing those boulders uphill because people don't really want to change.

Like they're, they're just not [01:00:00] wired to constantly be searching for the better way to do it. They're wired to get the project done.

And I know you see this all the time, I just wanted to kind of

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah.

Evan Troxel: that for a moment because this battle it like from the outside, it looks so, so simple, let's just solve it.

And it, from the inside, it's like unsolvable. And so

you have these polar opposite situations happening at the same time. Like people will come from industries, manufacturing industries, and they wanna apply what they've learned to architecture and then they get to architecture and they're like, I had no idea it would be this hard.

Håvard Vasshaug: Hmm.

Evan Troxel: Right. I had no idea you guys would be so difficult to change but it's, it's because it's so multi-layered. It is so deep. The onion skins are

like, they're just so many layers to that. I mean, it goes to contracts, insurance, uh, licensure,

uh, permitting agencies like it. It's all of these things stacked on top of each other that you actually have to change at [01:01:00] the same time

to start seeing a difference.


Håvard Vasshaug: it's, it's both extremely frustrating and, uh, also fascinating because it's hard, it's really,

really hard.

Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: Uh,

and easy problems are boring, hard problems are fun. I, uh, I, yeah, I, I hear what you're saying. Completely agree. Fun. I. side comment or just, I, I just realized now when you were saying that was that I called my, um, um, so I'm, so I'm not the CEO of any of, uh, my companies.

They're not my companies. We have also partners, but, uh, in the companies that I'm involved with, I'm not the CEO of any of them. So we have ACEO at Rio. We have ACEO at anchor, and then there's a chairman who oversees the, you know, the financial wellbeing of, uh, of these companies. And neither of these three people [01:02:00] are me.

So I called, uh, uh, my chairman and I said, because I wake up in the morning sometimes and I have an idea, and usually those ideas are bad. Uh, so I run them by my, my chairman, , and, uh, I told him, uh, his name is Yung, and I said, Hey, Yung. You know what I wanna do? I wanna start an architectural firm. I'm not an architect.

Uh, and, uh, but I, I, I really love architects and I love architecture, and I wanna start an architecture, architecture firm. And I want to do it in the same way that I, we sell our services at Rio, like on a subscription model, which has been great, is a great way to work. Um, and I don't yet know if that's even remotely possible because there's like so many different complex mechanisms in this, uh, uh, hours world.

But, uh, if it was possible, I think it would just be a, a fantastic [01:03:00] way of working. Uh.

Evan Troxel: What do you mean by that? What do you mean by a subscription model for architecture?

Håvard Vasshaug: I, when I say subscription model, I mean like think subscription model, because I haven't really thought this through. But, uh, the way I think about it and the way we try to do it at Rio is kind of like how you buy the internet at home, uh, is that you have these different tiers and the different tiers they give you, uh, speed.

Uh, but, uh, uh, the internet, uh, the, the com, where's my English, the company that delivers the internet to your house, uh, uh, doesn't care, uh, how, how much you stream or how much you download. You know, the

Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: Uh, they, they only care about the speed that you have. Or maybe a better analogy is my phone, my four G or five G subscription with my phone.

It's that, uh, they tell me that I can have like five gigabytes or 10 gigabytes or 20 [01:04:00] gigabytes per month. Um, and then some months I use very few gigabytes and some months it's like during July when it's Tour de France and I'm on the beach, I'm streaming like, oh my. Yeah. So so some months.

Yeah. And, and they give you the opportunity to adjust this up and down based on your need.

And usually you just up and then you forget to adjust down and

Evan Troxel: how,

how convenient for them,

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But you don't care because

the the price is relatively low per month. The cost over a year or over 10 years is big because you have a recurring revenue. And recurring revenue is like 10 times more. Worth than like ours revenue, uh, because of that, because your client don't ever really have an incentive to stop that subscription if it's a relatively low fee and you're getting what you're, what you need.[01:05:00]

So I was thinking that, uh, if we stop talking about ours, uh, and start talking about value, and if we put a pretty low price and just make it recurring. Uh, and give the clients what they need when they need it. And then maybe it's like really low activity, sometimes higher activity sometimes, but you put the price somewhere so that you're, you know, making sure that it's, I don't know.

I, I, we kind of did that with Rio. I, I was be lying if I said every contract that we have like that it's not, but, uh, we try to make as many, uh, agreements as possible with that. And that's like exactly how a SaaS company operates and how Anchor is doing everything. So I don't know that that was my, maybe one day in the future I'll start an architectural firm with this business.

Evan Troxel: It's an interesting business model because it basically Self-selects the clients who are willing to do that. Right?

There's gonna be some clients where it's just, I just need this one-off little thing,

Håvard Vasshaug: Mm-Hmm.[01:06:00]

Evan Troxel: and they, they could either subscribe to you and then turn it off,

Håvard Vasshaug: Hmm.

Evan Troxel: Or they're not the right fit,

which is, you know, maybe more your idea because you want that recurring revenue. Is it, it basically says if you're this kind of client who builds things and you're going to be building things for the next two decades, and so it just makes sense for me to, every little request I have, I just throw it into your court and you as reopen or anchor has to then balance the load, right?

That don't care, that's your job.

But they get access. They just get access because they are a subscriber. I think that's a really interesting idea. I, I like it. I like it a lot.

Håvard Vasshaug: I don't know if it works in reality, but it's, but it is a, it, it is a great way of working because the pressure on hours and making hours into a topic in every single conversation with your clients,

it really hurts collaboration and, uh,

I've seen that so many times.[01:07:00]

Evan Troxel: Yeah. Yeah. And, and the interesting thing about architecture from That point of view is that it, it basically incentivize everybody to do the least that

they can do. Right? And so in, in America, with design bid build, especially, and I is, I don't know if it's like this where you are or not, but it's like, first of all, we're competing on RFP for the job and it's the lowest fee is gonna win.

And then the, it's a public project, so it needs to go out to bid to multiple bidders. Then you pick the lowest bidder, right? And it's like everything is based on the cheapest. And so we're incentivized on the design team to spend as little as time of as possible on the design, which of course is gonna make mistakes, leave things not finished. All of the things that come along with spending less time on a project.

And then you get the low bidder who's looking for problems. Of course there are problems because we've set it up that way. Right.

So it's, it's kind of crazy, uh, to, [01:08:00] to think that like, this is a sustainable practice and what we've all seen happen is the race to the bottom.

Right. Every, there's always somebody who can do it for less,

and it doesn't mean they're gonna do it well, it just means they're gonna do it for less.

Right? Uh, and, and it usually means they're not gonna do it. Well, it

leads to more problems.


So I, I think this idea of removing hours from the conversation, because I think you're right, it does time and time again, it's like, no, we can't do that because you're not paying for it. No, we can't do that because we don't have time. That's a scope increase. That means we need to renegotiate the fee, or we need to do

ad services. All of those

things are negatives to a client, because what do they want? They want the finished product. That's

what They want. Right. They see architecture as a wasteful process because

it it is, if the goal is to get the building, everything we have to do, we have, we still have to do it, but it's, it's like a byproduct

of the final.


And so I think anything that hurts that [01:09:00] process is it leaves a bad taste in their mouth.

And, and so maybe through regulation they have to do it that way,

but at the same time, if they didn't have to do it that way, they wouldn't choose to do it that way. And

I think that's the future that we have to be worried about is people will find a way around current way of doing things if they can really find a better way to do it that costs less or is faster or, or whatever.

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah. Yeah. AB absolutely. I'm very curious how this landscape is going to look in five, 10 years.

Evan Troxel: Mm

mm-Hmm. Yeah. It, it won't look like what it looks like now, right?


Håvard Vasshaug: will do something.

Evan Troxel: Yeah. Well, let's, let's, we've buried the lead. What is Anchor? Tell us all about Anchor and what you're doing there.

Håvard Vasshaug: anchor is the culmination of 50% of the jobs we did at Rio. Um. We'd be hired in different projects and, uh, just like I said, uh, before, [01:10:00] uh, we always said yes. So I was a computational BIM expert. I were doing double curved facades in Paris and, uh, Beirut with, uh, Sakata. And then I started my company, I became this data person.

And I, I was never a data guy , uh, like three D and and so on, but like so many people called us to, uh, to get our help in, uh, in, in, in building. Whether it was a dynamo script or a Revit add in or a web application or the, like, some solution to this problem that appeared in the industry without me knowing it, I had no idea what was going on,

but we kind of just got it on the desk all day long from a lot of companies across Europe specifically, uh, or mostly Europe.

Um, so that, that was a, that was a . Maybe [01:11:00] it's a strange story of a founder or a, or, or a product, but I always say that Anchor was made by the market. Uh, it was not my brainchild or some genius idea. I woke up in the morning when I wake up in the morning, I wanna start architectural firms. . So , so, um,

Evan Troxel: You're a masochist man.

Håvard Vasshaug: absolutely. Um, I, uh, yeah, no, it, uh, so many companies and projects called us desperate for help, uh, with this like data quality problem that appeared in the, in the industry. And, uh, I learned about it, uh, through all those projects that we got. . So yeah, anchor was made by the market, and the market really started needing, um, really high quality bim.

Really like[01:12:00]

perverted, high quality Bim

Evan Troxel: we, it's what it says on the tin that hardly anybody delivers. Right.

It's like, because again, the process is so hard that we're incentivized to do shortcuts all the

time. Right? Whatever can be done to short cut this process, we will do it because it saves us, we have to hit the deadline.


won't say it saves us time because it actually costs us time

in the future, right? When we do those shortcuts. But they want the thing that they were promised, which was,

I want to be able to Proactively make decisions based on good data

for, you know, that, for that process. And it, and it's so hard to do that when

the shortcuts work their way into the system that break that process from actually delivering on that promise.

Håvard Vasshaug: So what, what we, what we realized, I suppose, uh, during this whole process of, of people, uh, needing, uh, data quality, uh, in, in and around the bim, was that, uh, what, [01:13:00] what was going on in the, in the contractor space and in the building owner space? Is that where this, where this came from? Uh, was, uh, and this, when I say this, it's the phenomenon of kind of like digital twin aspirations based on bim.

Um, I was in a meeting once with a bunch of building owners and directors, all like senior people to me and a bunch of engineers. And I remember one of the engineers were like asking in disbelief, are you expecting us to build a digital twin with Revit and the

Evan Troxel: Right.

Håvard Vasshaug: And, uh, and, and that was like maybe how you would say in Norway, like put on the edge.

Um, but, uh, but it's kind of, it's what's coming and, uh, a lot of architectural firms are not ready for this and a lot of engineering firms are trying to get ready for it. A lot of contractor [01:14:00] firms in Europe are starting to build the processes for construction sites that uses data instead of graphics. Um, and that in many places is called the digital construction.

And in Norway and Scandinavia and the Nordic countries and across Europe, that's like different things. When I go to the US and I talk about digital construction, they have a, maybe it means something else, uh, but uh, uh, most of the people, most of the contractors that, uh, suffer from this problem, that anchor is solving.

Um, use, uh, some sort of BIM fueled data-driven process, uh, where they stream BIM into different tablets or treaty viewers or databases or whatever they want to use the data in the BIM downstream in their processes. And they can't because, uh, you, you basically need so much [01:15:00] additional data, uh, connected with this bim.

And again, like the architects are already short on hours and you're asking them to an add the bunch. You know, you need the LOD property, you need a control zone property. You need the classification system. You need all this additional data on every single element in your bim.

Evan Troxel: Right.

Håvard Vasshaug: Um, so yeah, and it's the same with the building owners, although, uh, uh, that like digital twin dream for the building owners seem to be a little bit, uh, less mature than digital construction.

But it's the same, it's the same thing. I'm talking about this at Autodesk University next week. So

the need for data has triggered the need among contractors and owners to have BIM for whatever they're going to do with it has triggered a request for a lot of additional information that people in the [01:16:00] design firms are having a real hard time delivering, like massively hard time.

Evan Troxel: Because is it, is that because it's assumed that you will still do the project on the same schedule

with the same resources

as before,

but now we're just asking for more stuff. Right.

And so there's never this kind of conversation around we have to rethink the process. We have to reset expectations. That's not happening. And I don't understand why that's not happening.

Håvard Vasshaug: No, I, I don't either. I don't understand it, but it, it, it creeps into the contracts, uh, that the architects and engineers are signing.

Evan Troxel: Then they're surprised.

They're surprised by it.

Håvard Vasshaug: Usually at the end of the project someone asks you, what about the digital twin? And you're like, what? What do you mean digital twin? Oh, no, that thing in the last page of the contract that you signed.

Evan Troxel: The thing you signed,

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah. And it becomes, uh, it, uh, so this becomes, uh, like a massive headache. A lot of the owners, a lot of the clients [01:17:00] have started understanding that in order to avoid this happening, they, they start asking for that information already from day one. Uh, and, uh, and that again reinforces the headache because, Hmm.

A lot of architectural firms, I suppose, see what they're signing and, and okay, you're going to have a digital twin at the end of the project, but it'll be at the end of the project. We'll do our Revit, how we always did, and then on the final day, we add all the properties,

Evan Troxel: We'll figure that out later. I mean, it was like you, you said, I always say yes. Right. And, and without maybe even understanding the, what you were signing yourself up for.

Right. But that, that is exactly what happens

all the time. I'm curious, though, from the owner side, do you see them actually using this or are they just proactively kind of setting themselves up for something in the future?

Do you really see them like [01:18:00] needing this information and then using it to make decisions in operations and in facilities maintenance and things like that? Or are they just kind of, is this an insurance policy for something maybe in the future?

Håvard Vasshaug: From what I'm seeing it is, it looks more like an insurance policy for the future than an actual, actual, actual usage. And this is problematic because, uh, of course all our friends, the architects and engineers know this, so they are really having a hard time. What am I, why am I doing this? This hurts our timeline.

It like, I don't like it and nobody's going to use

Evan Troxel: And if no one's gonna use it,

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah, but they are going to use it. They just don't know yet for what. And then you can ask, yeah, but how do you know what data to ask for if you don't know what you're going to use it for? And and they will say, yeah, but it's better to have something than nothing.

Uh, and uh, and they're also preparing. I [01:19:00] mean, let me give you an example. In Norway, we build hospitals every 50 years I was in one. The whole last week with my baby. And we really need new hospitals in Norway because the one I was in e even today, uh, is 50 years old. So we build hospitals every 15 years, 50 years.

So this means right now there are seven teen hospital projects happening in Norway. And if you work as an architect for one of these projects, you have like a massive, massive information requirement document that you have to deliver on a weekly basis. And the reason why they are doing it, it's not like, maybe imagine that you have like every single element in Revit needs to have what, 100 parameters, text parameters and Boolean and numbers in

addition to all the normal with height, length, material, and so on.


Evan Troxel: Right. Mm-Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: But [01:20:00] uh, they are saying. , we don't know exactly what we are you going to use all this data for in the future, but we know 100% sure that they all need to be the same. If hospital A and hospital B and hospital C have different architects, they are going to be different bim. That's just how it is.

Evan Troxel: Yep.

Håvard Vasshaug: And uh, the hospital construction agency, they really need hospital A, B, and C to be the same.

Evan Troxel: So they can compare it. Yeah. So is that, is that a national initiative? Is that a regulation put in place? Like,

like Kobe or

iso? Right. Okay.

Håvard Vasshaug: X exactly like Kobe and iso. So, so, and this is just increasing and it's massively increasing at an exponential rate. And everyone is going to hit everyone, everyone, everyone. And, uh, nobody really has a solution to it. Um. And, uh, [01:21:00] it's a combination of BIM custom information requirements like the, the hospital guys.

They have information requirements and the railroad guys, they have information requirements. So it depends on who you're working for. But then there's also going to be like national and regional standards, uh, like Euro code and stuff that I'm sure that you have in the states, um, that you have to comply with.

So there's going to be a mishmash of a lot of things because all these business people and facility managers and the contractors, like everyone who is not inside your Revit sphere is going to want to use the data that you're producing.

Evan Troxel: Yeah. and and this, I mean, I, I'm gonna make an assumption here, is that there's no national initiative to help [01:22:00] firms evolve to the point where they can legitimately say, we realize that we're going to do this. Here's how we're gonna do it. Everybody's just left up to deal with this on their own. They're all going to solve it differently, right.

I mean, this is, this is a problem everywhere.

Håvard Vasshaug: Which is why they, some of them, not all of them, they called us and asked, Hey, we have a, we have a gigantic problem. We didn't see the, the last page of the contract, and we need a dynamo script that does this, or Revit add that, does this, or, you know, whatever. Um, so yeah, exactly, that's what happened. These things kind of like just crept silently into our

universe and, uh, I don't think anyone was prepared for it.

Evan Troxel: That is the way that things change in this industry though, is that

the clients and the owners force it to happen, not the other way around.

We're not really pushing at the grassroots level or at the early stages of projects to, [01:23:00] I think we are in some ways, I mean, with sustainability, this has always been an issue in the United States is there will be firms pushing and there will be clients saying, no thank you.


We don't want to pay for that now.

And so, so there has always been that, but then there's this, this other side where they're pulling us into it

and they're saying, here's what we demand. You have to do it if you want to be, uh, included on this project.

And that is where real change I think happens is because we're, we're just forced to do it by the owners and the clients.

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah. I mean, this is a . and four sister is the right word. Because if you don't wanna do it, it's like you say you, you don't get to work on this project. This is not a negotiable, uh, term in the contract. So, uh, because it, yeah, probably because, I mean, there's two different things. You, you mentioned there's digital construction, there's the, the contractors and there's the owners.

Um, [01:24:00] and I think that more for the owners, uh, they now know that just like you needed a drawing archive, you need a BIM archive or a data archive. And it's imperative that data archive is standardized and consistent and high quality. Uh, because if it's not the data, if the data is bad, anything that you do to use the data is going to be useless.

Um, the need for the contractors, at least in Northern Europe is a little bit different because they have immediate use. Uh, right now they, and they need much less data, but they completely . are, um, how do you say it? They absolutely need that data to be 100% correct. There's a lot of contractors now who are starting to plan for doing direct quantity takeoffs and procurement and manufacturing straight from the bim.

And as you can imagine, you know, if one text parameter is wrong in Revit, [01:25:00] that is going to lead to a lot of problems and it, it already is. But that, so these two clients that we have kind of have a little bit of a different, uh, dynamic there, but they, they all, they both need the same thing. And that is driving this change.

Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm. So you're solving that specific problem and, and is it difficult for you to, I mean, it doesn't sound like it would be difficult, is it difficult for you to find clients who are going into this willingly? Are they just saying like, because I see this with architects and I'm sure engineers a lot, like every project's different.

Right. And so if we don't need to know any information about swimming pools or code around swimming pools on this project, like I'll figure that out later when a project maybe arises. Where I do, I. Is it like that with, with this kind of a analogy where now all of a sudden they need to know this stuff.

They don't have anyone on staff who is [01:26:00] up on the latest information so they can call you because you are right, and then you can offer that service to them. Is that where you see yourselves just really being the expert on this side of the data process behind the digital twin to meet a standard and you are the expert that they can then tap into to deliver exactly that solution?

Håvard Vasshaug: Well, yeah. Uh, not me, but the product anchor. I mean the, the what I, what I know that we will. Do. And where we will arrive is in a, is in a place where we are actually, hopefully, if we are able to pull it off, uh, able to liberate a lot of architects and engineers from Eden having to deal with this. So the, the future, and this is like, yeah, I'm spoiling the end slide at my Autodesk University presentation next,

Evan Troxel: This will come out after that. [01:27:00] Yeah. Don't

Håvard Vasshaug: Okay, that's good.

Evan Troxel: good. Yeah.

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah. No, but I, I, I talk about a future where you connect your BIM or CAD or whatever to a solution and then you connect your standards, uh, the ISO standard or, and then your client's information requirements. And then, uh, based on the history that you have done in previous projects and these different data sources, we could quite easily just generate that data for you.

And, uh, whether it's like, call it AI or, uh, certainly it will be like some sort of language model that, that understands the requirements and the standards. But like you have bim, BIM is data. You have all these documents, whether, whether you're tapping into a database of information requirements or it's APDF or an Excel spreadsheet, or even like, one of our clients have it in PowerPoint

So . So there's like, [01:28:00] yeah. All these rules, you know,

Evan Troxel: Right?

Håvard Vasshaug: uh, and, and my, uh, my, my beautiful, beautiful dream, uh, with Anchor is where you have this dynamic database where the requirements are changing. During the process of the project, I, our first client had 305 revisions of the information requirement document.

And how do you deal with that when you can't even. Change the name of a shared parameter in Revit. So

Evan Troxel: Right.

Håvard Vasshaug: so like you, you wanna have like this dynamic database where all this data is living. And when I say living, it is living, it's changing constantly, depending on, yeah, it's active.

Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: And then if we're able to do that, then whatever BIM tool you're using, uh, even you could imagine just doing blobs in Rhino or SketchUp, and then [01:29:00] we could see what it is.

Oh, this is probably a window, this is probably a door. This is probably a, this, this is probably a, and then assume that it's something and then give it a bunch of data based on, uh, like I said before, based on what you've done before, based on the requirements that your client has. And then you can, I don't know if I don't, it's at least it's a dream.


Evan Troxel: Yeah.

Håvard Vasshaug: will always have to be some human input, but, but, uh, and it, it, and the, the, the cool thing about this is that it's very doable. Um, actually, I could probably share with you, I have a screenshot from a Slack message that I received four days ago from our engineering team. Is that this week now when I'm talking with you this week is the week we start implementing the [01:30:00] a AI and anchor.

And then, uh, and, and so it seems to be really doable because what you do in Anchor today is you, you connect your BIM to anchor. Anchor is a database lives on the web. It has a web front end, and there's like a user interface and where it's super boring, it's all just numbers and text. Um, and, um, it has a really nice.

Uh, interaction with Revit where it only syncs the changes. And you can do, you can do whatever you want in Revit and model whatever you want in Revit. And every time you sync you, we take the, the little bit that change and push it into the database and make sure it's always live in a work shared environment.

And then we combine that with the information requirements of the clients. So you import, say you work for the hospital construction agency and you have like 250 parameters or properties that you need to define on walls and ducts and rebar and so on. And then [01:31:00] what people today do in anchor is you import the bim, you import information requirements, and then you start doing things, right?

New table, new this, new that you define the rules yourself, uh, human beings, uh. Some of them used to be BIM managers, some of them used to be architects, but they're like maybe semi data scientists in Anchor today. And, and if we're able to pull off this work with the, the just basically generating the content in Anchor, we will have that future that I talked about before.

Evan Troxel: So you're talking about the user kind of being the switchboard operator. That's like wiring up.

Håvard Vasshaug: yeah.

Evan Troxel: Those things in anchor. But you're saying now maybe with AI you can actually have it, do the analysis

and [01:32:00] I'm sure you, you're still gonna want some oversight from a, a human right?

Like, it's just like any AI system now, it's like, uh, don't completely take it at its word, like still check the work.

Right? But you're gonna get, it's just gonna get better and better and better over time.

And I can, Ima you used the word earlier, liberating.

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah.

Evan Troxel: I can only imagine how freeing and liberating that would feel for somebody to be completely overwhelmed with these requirements to say, look, we have a solution that's gonna make it easy.

And I, I who's not gonna want that? Right. That, that's gonna be one of those things where it's just like, oh, thank God that, that somebody's figured this out because I waited long enough to not have to learn it on my own. Right. I waited

Håvard Vasshaug: Good, good call.

Evan Troxel: I waited, I waited too long. But, but now I can. There's a, there is a solution out there to

make, to liberate me from having to do that.

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah. And I, I, it just, [01:33:00] all the stars align for me. All the stars align for me.

Uh, and I, I'll try not to get too emotional here about like all connected with my childhood and my mom and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But, but, um, it really. feels very purposeful because we are wasting an entire generation of architects brain capacity and passion, and telling them to be data managers and

BIM people and they shouldn't.

Evan Troxel: yeah. It's mundane.


for sure. It kind of kills the morale. I mean, there are definitely people who see the beauty in that, in that table, right? They see, they're like reading the matrix and they totally get it, but that's it's for them. Right?

and, and, but I think you're right. For the, for the kid who sings and plays Legos on the floor for every hour of the day, like that is a, their effort is, uh, in [01:34:00] many ways wasted by having to deal with, with this kind of stuff.

Håvard Vasshaug: Yeah.

Evan Troxel: Yep.

Håvard Vasshaug: So my, my theory, and I feel pretty confident about this theory is that we're architects and engineers are getting really good at BIM 3D modeling, parametric 3D modeling, designing space, moving things around, stretch, pull, push, stacking things. Like I see people getting better and better and better at this.

Like we get the coordinate systems. Okay. You can do collision control like 3d. And geometry is never going to be a problem for an architect and engineer, because It's intuitive. It's something that we do, and think about, and breathe.

Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.

Håvard Vasshaug: Um, but all this, like, data world, uh, oh my god, like, yeah, uh,

Evan Troxel: a, it's a different, it's a different beast. Yeah.

Håvard Vasshaug: yeah. Yeah.

Evan Troxel: Well, you're doing the Lord's work. .

Håvard Vasshaug: No. [01:35:00] Yeah. Yeah.

Evan Troxel: you think about . You think about the, the attitude that people have around this stuff, and it's like, thank goodness somebody caress enough about this and, and, and you're getting tons of value out of it by, by solving this problem, right?

Like you said, it feels very purposeful and the stars have aligned. Uh, that to me really shows that, like, it takes all kinds of people in the AEC industry, it really takes all kinds of people who do all kinds of very different things. Much to like the education side. Like that doesn't really tell that story.

It's like there's three different roles, right? No, there, there's, there's 500 different roles in AEC and people can specialize or they can generalize, or they can pick a topic or a category and create this really uncommon trajectory to solve problems in this industry because the industry, I. It is so varied [01:36:00] in the problem set that I think it's, it's, uh, there's, there's opportunity for everybody.

And so, uh, I I, I do see a lot of hope there because, um, there are so many possibilities for people to find a way into this industry and to find purpose in this industry. And it doesn't have to just be the traditional three . Possible paths kind of a thing. So it's really incredible. And I think telling stories like this, like the one that you've told today, illuminate that for so many people just to say like, okay, I'm not the weird person who thinks I, I feel like, I feel like a lot of people are gonna feel heard or feel seen by just hearing this conversation to say, man, there's, I can do so much.

And, and this all goes back to your video, right? Trying to . Put out the call. Right. You put out the bat signal to say like, here's what we're looking for. And there are so many people who before seeing that light go on, just feel [01:37:00] isolated. Right. And, and I feel like, like you have one version of that story.

There's still 500 other versions of the story even, but it's just a great example to, to share with everyone. So I, I really appreciate you taking the time to have this conversation with me today and that we can share it with everybody. It's, it's been absolutely fantastic.

Håvard Vasshaug: Thank you so much for inviting me to come and I, I have to say that once my, my daughter was born on the night until Tuesday last week. Uh, we normally have like a two week birth holiday in Norway and I canceled all my meetings except yours. So, and I'm very happy that we stuck to this appointment because I really enjoyed the conversation.

Evan Troxel: Well, I hope your daughter appreciates this in the future because, uh, you contributed a lot to the industry today. I, I appreciate it. Yeah. Maybe ,

Håvard Vasshaug: maybe, maybe she'll see it.

Evan Troxel: The internet doesn't forget, [01:38:00] so it'll it'll still be out the there. Yeah.

Håvard Vasshaug: Hello.

Evan Troxel: Well,

well Håvard this has been an amazing conversation and I want you to just quickly share places where people can find you online. I'll include links to everything in the show notes for this episode, but where can people find out more about what you're doing?

Håvard Vasshaug: I think, uh, A few years ago, I was like on all the social media, and now I'm focusing mostly on LinkedIn. So, if you search me up, there are not too many Vasshaug's in this world. There are, are, are, my last name is kind of rare, so if you just get the spelling of that right, I think you'll find me. But, uh, if you want to get in touch with me, then LinkedIn is a good place to start, I think.

Evan Troxel: Great. Well, uh, like I said, this episode won't be out before au but I will see you at AU and I'm looking forward to meeting you in person. It'll be fun.

Håvard Vasshaug: Great!

Evan Troxel: [01:39:00] Well, thanks again. I appreciate it. And until next time,

Håvard Vasshaug: Thank you.