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When the iPad launched in 2010, PlanGrid’s co-founders immediately saw the potential to move construction planning to the cloud. Hard copy blueprints were still the norm, and updating them manually created inefficiency and frequent errors. PlanGrid’s mobile planning software enabled seamless and instantaneous coordination. By 2014, the product had proven vital—and the team was struggling to keep up with demand.

Tracy and Doug look back on a key hire that set the company up for success.

Doug Leone
Sequoia

Usually the toughest part is finding product-market fit. But Tracy and Ralph were a match made in heaven—she was from construction; he had graphics expertise from Pixar. The phones were already ringing off the hook.

Tracy Young
Co-Founder & CEO, PlanGrid

In those first years, everyone reported to one of the founders. No one had a title. Then we got to about 30 people, and things started to break. We were tracking millions of dollars in a Google Sheet. We had no sales team, no marketing team. We needed a partner who knew how to build a business.

Doug

When Tracy came to Sequoia to pitch, I remember being impressed with her presence, her command of the audience and her ability to listen. We said, “This founder has it.” It was clear she would grow into a very capable CEO.

Tracy

At the time, I wasn’t afraid. I was too naive to be afraid! I just thought, “I’m going to give this presentation and then I’m going back to work.”

Doug

It was a rare decision where all the partners agreed immediately. We sent a term sheet that day.

Tracy

Everything seemed perfect, but we were still wary of VCs. That weekend, Doug gave us his “résumé.” It was a list of phone numbers for the founders of all these impressive companies. I had hours and hours of conversations, and everything I heard was positive.

Tracy

Once we partnered, Sequoia immediately helped us start recruiting. Engineering problems are relatively easy to solve. People, culture, market dynamics—those are much more complex, and that’s where Sequoia has been our guiding light.

Doug

The first thing we needed was a VP of Sales. We couldn’t grow fast without one. But it wasn’t easy to get someone good on board. Back then, most people didn’t recognize construction software as the huge market it’s become.

Tracy

With the first few candidates, I didn’t know how to interview for sales roles. Doug sat in and asked most of the questions. There’s so much I learned from that process—questions to ask, things to look for—that I still use when I’m interviewing today.

Tracy

Then we met Bill Smith. He was at Oracle at the time, and his only direct reports were VPs. We were still only 35 or 40 people. I don’t think he would have joined us at that stage if it wasn’t for Sequoia and Doug.

Doug

Bill was an incredible hire, but all we did was make the introduction. Tracy took it from there. Once Bill said yes, she had the courage to run very fast and rapidly grow the sales team.

Tracy

Construction is a face-to-face, relationship-based business. Hiring Bill and expanding the sales org outside San Francisco was a big change, but it led to several years of triple-digit growth.

PlanGrid is the top construction app on the Apple Store, Google Play and Microsoft Windows, and has helped build more than 1 million projects.

PlanGrid
Construction software made for the field.
Milestones
  • Founded 2011
  • Partnered 2014
  • Acquired 2018
Team
  • Ralph Gootee
  • Ryan Sutton-Gee
  • Tracy Young
Partner