William (Willy) Schlacks, a serial entrepreneur known for co-founding EquipmentShare, has a remarkable history of building big and small companies. In this blog post, we will delve into Willy's background, exploring how his early experiences shaped his entrepreneurial spirit and ultimately led to the creation of EquipmentShare, a construction fleet and digital solutions startup. Outside of Equipment Share, Willy is a Managing Partner and GP at Redbud VC.
Growing up in a remote community, Willy and his brother found an outlet for their curiosity and desire to explore the world by building companies. From starting their first company at the age of nine or ten, building sheds and exploring the concept of renting to own, to venturing into the business of building computers in the 90s, their journey was marked by creativity and problem-solving.
Founding EquipmentShare: The start of EquipmentShare traces back to 2014, when the idea was conceived during Columbia Startup Weekend. Willy initially envisioned as a peer-to-peer marketplace facilitating equipment rental among contractors, the concept gained traction after the Schlacks brothers emerged victorious in a Startup Weekend competition.
As the company evolved, it transcended its original role as a basic web and mobile construction equipment marketplace. EquipmentShare transformed into a comprehensive asset handling and distribution network, providing customers with a diverse array of construction machinery and equipment. Simultaneously, it introduced T3, a telematics operating system designed to capture utilization data from each machine. This innovative system empowered contractors to make more informed operational decisions based on real-time data.
EquipmentShare aimed to tackle global-scale problems within the construction and industrial sectors. The shift towards venture capital was driven by the need for substantial capital to fund the ambitious vision. Willy has emphasized the importance of venture capitalism in enabling innovation and transformation in society.
EquipmentShare's has seen rapid growth, its recognition as one of America's Best Startup Employers, and Willy's approach to balancing empowerment and flexibility within the company's teams. The launch of T3, a cloud-based operating system, and the $230 million investment round in 2021 are highlighted as pivotal moments.
Willy Schlacks' journey from a humble upbringing to building venture-scale companies, particularly EquipmentShare, showcases the transformative power of entrepreneurship. His reflections on struggle, learning, and the evolving landscape of capitalism provide valuable insights for aspiring entrepreneurs. EquipmentShare's success serves as an inspiration, emphasizing the impact of innovation and growth in shaping the future.