Jerome Knyszewski interviews Anthony Perera, Founder of Inspected, for Authority Magazine
Anthony Perera is also the Founder and President of Florida-based HVAC servicing company Air Pros USA, which is rapidly expanding across the U.S., with local operations in Georgia, Florida, Colorado, Texas, and Washington. A serial entrepreneur, Anthony first thought of the Inspected app several months ago, but once the coronavirus restrictions began, he knew he needed to quickly get the app operational.
Anthony’s new solution is already helping many Government Agencies and municipal authorities throughout the USA conduct virtual inspections virtually. Inspected speeds up the permitting process needed to complete or continue remote video inspections and businesses by allowing inspectors to visually approve work and close permits without having to physically visit the site.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I’m a contractor by trade and as the Founder and President of Florida-based HVAC servicing company, Air Pros USA, I knew there was an opportunity for a tool like Inspected. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, workforce shortages and social distance guidelines stalled hundreds of thousands of construction projects. This created huge backlogs within city building departments. So, I embarked on a mission to solve the problem of how companies could get permits and work within the restrictions of COVID-19. As a result, I designed Inspected, a remote platform which uses a simple user interface to help safety professionals schedule, inspect, and clear permits securely without risking their health.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
I think it was more of a “banging my head against the wall” moment. I am a serial entrepreneur and I first thought of Inspected several months ago, but once the COVID-19 restrictions began, I knew I needed to quickly get this idea operational. Inspected is already helping many government agencies and municipal authorities throughout the U.S. conduct virtual inspections. It speeds up the permitting process needed to complete or continue remote video inspections and businesses by allowing inspectors to virtually approve work and close permits without having to physically visit the site. Which is something we needed this past year, but also continue to utilize in the post-pandemic world.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Like any company, Inspected was like birthing a child. You must nurture it in concept, creation, and find out where it belongs in the world. I have never sold to municipalities before, and the hardest part was how to get people to change the way they thought about inspections. Construction is one of the oldest professions, so introducing any new product scares a lot of people. But once they see how quick, easy, and efficient Inspected is, they see all the benefits it brings to their lives, to their cities, for their employees, and for their customers. But I never thought of giving up, because once I set my mind to something, I need to find a solution and follow through.
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
As a Founder and President of an HVAC company, I know how damaging a stalled permit can be. Inspected eliminates these kinds of barriers to productivity. Which is why Inspected is continuing to evolve. I’ve started many big brands before, so we knew how to make a splash, especially with all our knowledge in the HVAC industry. Inspected is not only safer and more efficient than in-person inspections, but it also has helped restore business continuity and kept many businesses afloat during a difficult time.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The success of any company is the need for their services, which is something we accomplished. What makes Inspected stand out is that we developed our own business model that people have never seen before. We are providing governments, insurance companies, and third-party inspectors the opportunity to conduct virtual inspections. We geo locate the contract to a specific address and then consolidated all those features into an application.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
This was not necessarily the “funniest mistake,” but we did not know what the sales cycle looked like in the field we were entering. There is a long process to work with government entities and it took us some time to adjust. When you are working with so many different states or cities, there is definitely a learning curve.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- My ability to think outside the box. I always push myself to think bigger and expand on my original idea to see how I can better serve the purpose.
- I do not like giving up or losing. My competitive personality drives me to be aggressive in my pursuit of success.
- I am very personable and outgoing. When you are working in an environment with people, the office takes on the personality of its leaders and employees. If someone is negative, people are going to see that, and it will bring down the morale and productivity of the entire office. I exude positivity across the office through group chats, sales bells, and shout outs across the office. My team will tell you that I come in with a positive attitude every day, because I know how much a leader’s personality can impact a team.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Do not take no for an answer. If you want to go after something, keep moving forward. In our industry, specifically in the inspection space, there is a predetermined mindset people are stuck in. Think of ways you can apply your business knowledge or product offerings to different segments across different industries. Basically, keep it exciting. Push yourself to do things you never thought were possible.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
This is a little cliché, but do not be afraid to take a risk. Startups often wonder “what if” and dwell on the worst-case scenario. It goes back to the adage, if at first you don’t success, try, try again! I’m a big believer that perception becomes reality, so think, act, and speak like you’re bigger than you are, and you will become that. When I first started, we would go to events and have a little pop-up tent and tables set up with our iron-on t-shirts with our logo. We always struggled to convince our audience that we were a capable business. One time at an event, I saw a company with a huge RV, and everyone was over there seeing what they were selling. They were creating a lot of buzz! Sure enough, we saved up and for our next event we rented an RV with our logo and we had huge lines of people who were interested in our product. Because perception becomes reality — people were interested because we gave our audience a sense of confidence that we were financially successful.
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Communication! I get so many emails; I cannot get to all of them at once. You also lose a sense of personal one-on-one communication. You must communicate to your team, your employees, and your customers. It seems like a simple concept, but it is certainly the most underestimated.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Understand the sales cycle when selling to governments because it is a very in-depth and long process you need to consider.
- Developing technology that works and be ready to go to market after all the testing has been completed. That’s not necessarily the case with Inspected, but I wish I would have known that before starting some of my other companies.
- Staffing quality employees during COVID is not easy! Even though a lot of people lost their jobs and were looking for new careers, it was very hard to find the right people in the cities we were operating in.
- It is very hard to change the way an entire industry operates — especially one as old as the construction and inspection industry.
- You can’t be everything to all people. In some cases when people wanted me to change things relating to how my business operates, I would take their advice. Something I learned is that you cannot do that every time or please every one.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would start Inspected.com all over again, maybe sooner. Inspected allows inspectors to perform inspections right from their home or office. The number of efficiencies we create are invaluable, such as the amount of time it takes for inspectors to travel to the site, then back to their office, and then complete the paper. We really are helping homeowners and government entities to save time and money and I cannot imagine anyone who would not want more of that!