Working out of Bamboo, whether from our open coworking space, a dedicated desk, or a private office, you can’t help but feel inspired by the energy of professionals, creatives, and entrepreneurs working to innovate and provide leading products and services. We’re focused on building a supportive and diverse community for our members to create and grow. As a leader with over 8 years of experience and connections in the startup ecosystem, we’re proud to support the growth of several leading startups in Southeast Michigan.
Rivet Work provides digital workforce management scheduling software for skilled trades. They are currently partnering with electrical contractor companies, with plans to expand to other verticals like mechanical, plumbing, and carpentry. They are targeting one of the final frontiers of digital transformation by delivering a digital tool that is specifically designed to meet the needs of the skilled trade industries.
The Co-Founder and CEO, Ryan Meitl, started Rivet Work in 2019, bringing his background in engineering and product to the table. Meitl has worked adjacent to the trades for his whole career. He has built products that are used by or installed by electricians and has family who work in the trades.
As an engineer, Meitl loves to build products. He finds that in many ways, building a company is similar to building a product, with the added challenges of working with people who are much more dynamic and complex.
APPLYING INTRAPRENEURIAL AND ENTREPRENEURIAL EXPERIENCES TO START A COMPANY
Meitl started his career at Bosch and credits much of his experience there to his success with starting Rivet Work. He spent 7 years with the company and served in a variety of roles: Product Engineer, Project Manager, System Engineer, Department Lead, Engineering Manager, and Head of an internal corporate startup. This broad range of experience provided a strong foundation.
His interest in renewable energy and sustainability exposed him to the internal startups and new businesses within the company. The relationships that he built at Bosch helped his idea to receive funding and would later help him after starting Rivet Work.
Meitl was able to apply his learnings from working for a process-based company. During his time leading the internal startup at Bosch, he built a business plan and conducted a business field analysis to prove that the company could successfully bring the product to market.
Following his tenure at Bosch, Meitl spent the next 2 years of his career at Amatis Controls, a digital lighting controls startup based in Michigan. During his time with the company, he set the strategy, opened the Detroit office, and hired a team. Working at a venture-backed startup gave Meitl the opportunity to learn the mechanics of operating and doing finances at a company outside of the corporate bubble. It gave him the opportunity to apply his experience from Bosch to running a company.
Rivet Work puts both the intrapreneurial experiences at Bosch and entrepreneurial experiences at Amatis Controls into practice.
FUNDRAISING AND GAINING TRACTION
In 2020, Rivet Work closed $600k in pre-seed funding. In their fundraising journey, they focused on how they would use the money to take the product to the next level. Early on, Meitl worked with Alison Accavitti, Louis Gelinas, and Andy Lawrence to build a prototype by bootstrapping and working part-time on nights and weekends. It was important for the team to get enough customer validation that they would feel confident enough to risk more livelihoods, and eventually friends and family’s money. Once they reached a point where they felt that it was worth pursuing, they opened their pre-seed round.
The first $75k came from Meitl, friends and family, and Solidea Capital. The early investments were important for the company to bring Andy Lawrence, CTO and Co-Founder, on full-time to build the first working version of the product. Shortly thereafter they were able to acquire their first customers and within 3-4 months were positioned to raise another $200k. The momentum grew and, with the contributions from a strategic partnership and investor, the company exceeded their initial goal, fundraising $600k total.
Traction is very important for fundraising. While the start can be slow, as the momentum builds, more financing becomes available. At first, funding all came from friends and family. The people Meitl had kept in touch with from Bosch became Rivet Work’s first investors. While referrals and connections were helpful, Meitl and his team also conducted a lot of cold outreach to external investors, leveraging CRM tools to keep track of the conversations. They specifically targeted investors that were interested in construction tech and property tech, as well as investors with portfolio companies in the Midwest.
As a first-time founder, Meitl needed to gain the trust of investors and prove to them that he and his team would be able to execute on their plans. Initially, one challenge that the company faced was that many midwest angel investors don’t invest in companies at the pre-seed stage, with preferences for companies at the Seed and Series A stages.
Conservative investors can make it harder to get a company off the ground in the beginning. Luckily, amidst the pandemic, the opportunities have expanded as investor meetings have gone virtual. This makes it an ideal time for midwest founders to raise funding. The increased opportunities for funding paired with the low cost of living can make starting a company in the Midwest a strategic decision.
BUILDING AT BAMBOO
At Bamboo, we see lasting business connections form all of the time as members strike up conversations in the open coworking space, attend events, and get connected through the Community Managers.
Meitl met Gelinas, one of his Co-Founders and the first person to go full-time on the company, through a referral from one of our Community Managers. Gelinas had just gotten a desk membership at the Detroit office and completed a developer program through the Lambda School. The Community Manager was able to make the introduction when Meitl mentioned that he was looking for a developer.
During the pandemic, Meitl received support from Bamboo as he transitioned from his previous company and started building Rivet Work. This gave him the opportunity to build his company and network. Having the opportunity to stay in touch and network within the entrepreneurial community was foundational in helping to get the company off the ground.
Last fall, Rivet Work moved into an office on the 6th floor and they just added another office to support the team as it grows. Meitl is looking forward to growing and scaling the company and the team over the next few months. Starting and growing a company takes a lot of work and often takes longer than you think.
“We’re at that intersection of innovating fast and preparing to scale”
As the company ramps up, they expect to grow their design, product, customer success, and business development teams. Meitl is looking forward to scaling the company and building its culture with their channel partner. If you’re interested in joining the team, check out their job descriptions here.