Growing up in Germany, Marc Kleinmann learned the ins and outs of the building industry by working in his family’s real estate development company. The first company Marc built was Bauhaus Custom Homes, a modern home design firm. He eventually became frustrated by the fragmented building process and lack of technical innovation in the building and design industry. In 2018 Marc founded VIRTUALhaus, a 3D Marketplace for building products that eliminate inefficiencies during pre-construction for a more profitable and sustainable building process.
Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family in a small town outside Stuttgart, Germany. Stuttgart is known for being the birthplace of the automobile, and many large, well-known corporations have their headquarters there. The area fosters innovation and entrepreneurship – in fact, it was rightfully dubbed “The Area of the Small Inventor.” My dad started his first business at a young age, and all of my friends grew up around their family’s businesses. My sphere of influence as a child included many people who were always doing their own thing. From a very young age, I was constantly inspired to become an entrepreneur one day.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
My first voyage into entrepreneurship was with a custom home building company focused on creating sustainable homes. We offered a complete 3D visualization for every project we worked on. After 15 years with the company, I wanted to provide a technology that would empower other home-building companies to do the same, which is how VIRTUALhaus came to be. There were many things that inspired me to be an entrepreneur, but my biggest motivation was a desire to reduce the environmental impact of the building industry. Construction accounts for over 20% of the waste generated nationally. The VIRTUALhaus app reduces pre-construction waste and streamlines the entire home design process.
What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?
TV shows, movies, and the media can make being a startup founder seem incredibly glamorous. The truth is – it’s not all ping pong rooms and beers on tap. A lot of hard work, sweat, and tears go into founding a startup. If someone wants to become a startup founder because of the hype, they will run out of steam quickly. You receive a lot of “no’s” when you’re a startup founder. You need thick skin and determination to make your startup a success.