Featured Founder: Alex Kraft of Heave
Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Alex Kraft of Heave, which is a Heavy Construction equipment marketplace.
What were you doing previously and what inspired you to launch your company?
I was Chief Operating Officer for a large heavy equipment dealership here in Tampa. After we sold the company, I was inspired by the opportunity to innovate in a very old-school industry.
What pain point is your company solving? What gets you excited to go to work every day?
Heave is a heavy equipment marketplace. For decades, customers would buy/rent heavy equipment through offline channels. Everything is much more difficult than it needs to be. Our marketplace has an ‘open table’ type element where a customer can submit an ‘RFQ’ and they are served immediately with available inventory from the local dealer salespeople along with their contact information.
What gets me excited every day is knowing that we are solving pain points for both sides of our marketplace. I’m also fueled by the culture of a start-up, being able to experiment constantly. Previously, all I heard was “this is the way we’ve done it” and nothing changed for 10+ years. Any new ideas were met with 5 reasons to not try. It was exhausting.
Name the biggest challenge you faced in the process of launching the company. How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge is first overcoming the fear of starting something from scratch. A surprising challenge to me was truly figuring out who our core customers would be.
When you have an idea and start a company, naturally you are very proud and want to share it with everyone. The term “early adopters” is used all the time, but I like the approach of “who is our product a no-brainer for?” This process allowed us to focus on the core group and get traction much more easily.
Where do you see your company headed next?
We’ve focused mostly on tools for the supply side of our marketplace and improving the salesperson’s experience. Over the next 12-24 months, we’ll be focused on layering in the other services that benefit the customers in our marketplace. Anything that a customer wants or needs to do with heavy equipment will be able to be accomplished via the Heave app: transport the machine, finance the machine, buy an extended warranty, buy parts, and schedule service. We’ll be focusing on that full suite of products and services for heavy equipment customers.
Give us a tactical piece of advice that you'd share with another founder just starting out.
When you encounter resistance with your product, it’s easy to get down. But your customers are telling you that it’s not good enough yet. There’s always another move, another tweak. In the long run, this process will help you develop something that is a no-brainer and you’ll be better off for it.
Why Tampa Bay?
This one’s easy - We’ve loved the area and have lived here since 2012.