Edina Mezildzic

CODE_n SPACES Residents | Refine Projects: Lean prinicples with tiny Post-it notes – big style!

Meet our CODE_n SPACES resident, Refine Projects! Methods knowledge paired with innovation and operative implementation power – that’s just how Refine adds sustainable value to its customer’s projects. We talked to CEO and founder Bülent Yildiz to discover how the Refine team uses Post-it® notes and Legos to structure complex projects and make them more efficient. Read on to learn more about how the company was founded, how the construction industry has been turned on its head, and about the challenges they faced in finding just the right team.

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Let’s start with the obvious: Can you explain, in layman’s terms and maybe with a couple of nice examples, what exactly you do?

Bülent: We reduce complexity in projects worth millions – all with the help of Post-it® notes and Legos. Manufacturing in construction projects is so efficient these days, it’s like the automotive industry 60-80 years ago. Back then the automotive industry produced products without prefab units, without production systems, and without concentrating on added value. Therein lies the problem as we see it, and for us at Refine, therein also lies the solution.

Then there’s the trend that anyone who watches the news will spot: These days, 70% of all projects go over schedule and budget – even up to 200% over budget. We tackle the complexity of managing thousands of individual processes on dozens of projects. We simulate project flows with Post-it’s and create project delivery systems for our customers. This hands them a tool for lean project management. We’re consultants but we’re also instructors on lean construction.

And who’s your solution for?

Bülent: We focus on one-off projects in the construction industry, but our solutions are also applicable to complex, cross-industry projects. Our customers include large corporations like Stihl but also smaller to medium-sized local construction companies, as well as bricks and mortar businesses like the Mondi Group.

What made you think of the idea? And what made you set up the company?

Bülent Yildiz, CEO & founder of Refine Projects

Bülent Yildiz, CEO & founder of Refine Projects

Bülent: Working in the industry over the past 15 years, my business partner and I were frustrated with the huge gaps in productivity and collaboration within projects. Hence projects are very often delivered late and over budget. So there is a big market for improving the processes used for such one-off projects and introducing lean project delivery as a kind of innovative solution. If you keep doing things the same way they’ve always been done in an industry, you can only expect the same results you’ve always achieved. We don’t keep our know-how to ourselves.

How did you become aware of CODE_n SPACES? What motivated you to move in?

Bülent: We wanted to do away with the old approach to project delivery and start new trends within an entire industry. The right environment – being surrounded by other people who want to foster change in their business field, in their daily business activities, or in their industries – that’s a catalyst for our startup. One of our former colleagues was the project manager in charge of building the CODE_n SPACES – she connected us with CODE_n and Ulrich Dietz. Many companies search high and low for an opportunity like this – we just made sure to use it.

What are the biggest challenges you all face as business founders? What are the up sides?

Bülent: The biggest challenges we face are finding and keeping talented people. The up side is that you get to create your own business model and work with great clients, while at the same time providing their team with innovative solutions. When you’re a startup, if something isn’t quite going right with your business you can’t just ignore it or come back to it later. That’s not how we work at Refine. We have the same expectations of our consulting as our customers do.

Where do you see yourselves in 10 years?

Bülent: We see Refine Projects as one of the TOP 3 consultancies in Europe within our field, supported by a great team – a team that keeps the startup spirit going.

We have met the team and we are therefore convinced: these are not just utopic ideas. Thanks for the interview and all the best!

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