The company founder and CEO on the challenges (and rewards) of launching a tech start-up, the importance of curiosity and the car that symbolises his career journey  

Tooey Courtemanche Procore Headshot

Tooey Courtemanche founded Procore in San Francisco nearly 20 years ago

Why did you choose construction as a career? 

I am a builder at heart. My dad was a builder, and I started sweeping up sawdust in a cabinetry shop in the 8th grade. I fell in love with the craft and have immense respect for the trades.

Nothing brings me more joy than building, whether that be working as a carpenter, a real estate developer, a software engineer or founding and growing Procore.

Over the years, I saw first hand the power that technology had to transform industries and improve lives. But I quickly realised that most construction tech was pulling solutions from other sectors.

Construction is a unique, complex, high-risk craft that deserves purpose-built technology. So I decided to bring the two worlds I love together: construction and technology. Twenty years later, I am still focused on helping this industry do its best work – safely, on budget and efficiently.

What are you most proud of in your career to date? 

Since we started Procore 20 years ago, our vision has been to improve the lives of everyone in construction. One of the things that always fills me with immense pride is hearing stories of how we are achieving our vision and how our technology is helping real people.

I love hearing stories about folks being able to leave the job site early to catch their kids’ football game because they are not stuck doing double data entry, or stories of how businesses have weathered economic volatility because of the visibility and control our platform has given them.

That’s what gets me up in the morning: seeing the real impact our work has on the people building the world around us.

What has been the biggest challenge of your career to date?

I am a big believer that success starts with culture. That is why culture has been a priority since the day we founded the company.

One of the biggest challenges we have faced as we have scaled the business from just a few employees to a few thousand employees is how to maintain our unique and values-driven culture through hyper-growth. What makes great company culture at 100 employees is not what makes it great at 1,000 or 3,000 employees.

Culture is fluid, not static, and over the past couple of years the pandemic has further underlined the importance of building a strong company culture that enables employees to feel valued both in and out of work.

Recognising that culture is a continuous evolution and that our employees are the ones who cultivate it has been key to enabling Procore to scale its culture with its growth. Today, no matter where you are in the world, if you step into a Procore office, it feels like Procore.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

I would change the misperception of the trades and instead show folks how meaningful and fulfilling it can be to build a career in construction. Many tout a four-year degree as the only path to success, which has contributed to today’s skilled labour shortage.

The younger generation is not encouraged to explore a path in construction like previous generations were. Not enough people know that they can earn a six-figure salary in the trades and without racking up student loan debt –which, according to Forbes, is £24,000 per borrower on average.

What is the most helpful advice that you have been given?

Know your strengths, but more importantly know your weaknesses and hire in accordance with them. Be humble enough to know that you do not have all the answers.

In my experience, the most successful people are curious – they ask questions, seek help when they need it and are willing to learn.


Source: Shutterstock

San Gimignano, Tuscany

What’s your favourite building in the world?

I focus more on building styles like the Brutalist style. I love concrete, steel and glass. Concrete can be formed into just about any shape and steel and glass are hard and permanent and can create almost any style. But, no matter the shape/design, they represent strong, clean and purposeful expressions that appeal to me.

I have also been blown away by the character of the farms and villages throughout Tuscany, and the beauty of the large piazzas in Italy – the spaces they create are a symphony of architecture coming together in one space.

Which famous building do you wish you had worked on?

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the job site office during the construction of the Empire State Building – it has always fascinated me.

The builders had to coordinate complex logistics on a tight job site without the efficiency of today’s technology, and they still completed it in 18 months. While this was no doubt a feat of engineering, some very hard, real lessons were learnt in the process.

The speed of the project is also what likely contributed to the five lives that were tragically lost in the building’s construction and underscores the necessity of prioritising worker health and safety.


The Empire State Building in New York

What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in your profession?

Launching a tech start-up can be both incredibly rewarding and gruelling in equal measure. Don’t set out to start a business solely because you want to be an “entrepreneur”. Instead, start with a problem you are passionate about solving.

Having a genuine passion for the industry you are working in and finding a problem you are intent on solving will help you to weather the ups and downs, and it will provide you with empathy for the customer.

Who do you most admire in the construction industry?

Our customers. The industry consistently delivers cutting-edge projects and builds the communities where we live, work, and play. And they do all of this despite the obstacles of the pandemic, persistent labour shortages, supply chain issues and inflation.

This industry is incredibly resilient, working tirelessly to build, maintain and power the world around us, and to me their work is nothing short of heroic.

Do you have a life philosophy?

The golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated.

What do you think your best quality is?


What trait do you most dislike in yourself? And in other people?

Unwarranted self-criticism.

Name three things that you like 

Tooey Courtemanche Procore Headshot

Family time, music, scuba diving

Tell us about a secret skill that we don’t know you have.

I am a master Lego builder.

Land Rover Defender 90

Source: Shutterstock

A Land Rover Defender 90

What is your most prized possession?

My 1997 Landrover Defender 90. The vehicle itself is not necessarily special, but it is a reminder of everything that we have poured into Procore over the past 20 years.

Procore was not an overnight success, but my family and I believed so deeply in the mission that at some point we sold off pretty much everything we owned to keep the lights on, except for the Defender. In some ways, this means it is the only relic of our life before Procore.

Early bird or night owl?

Night owl.

What is your favourite food?