Plumber turns tech entrepreneur with new app

When plumber and business owner Maxwell Semmons-Russell got burned by a client who didn’t pay, he got mad. But instead of getting even, he decided to do something practical about it – not just for himself, but for his fellow tradies and contractors in the building industry.

“After having the experience of not being paid, I then had an idea of how I could stop that issue from happening again. I also spoke to more people about it and everyone had a story – there were some really bad ones too. That was my motivation for working out if it was possible to do something.”

Max has been working in trades for 20 years, and in the last five years he has been running his own business, KPA Plumbing. But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. When he started, he often had trouble getting paid on time for his work.

“I just thought it wasn’t right, how can I make something to fix that problem.”

So he started researching, looking for ways to get paid upfront, despite people telling him it was impossible. In construction, Max says it’s very much “do the work, do the mahi first – then get paid later.”

Max saw that there was a huge problem in the construction industry with tradespeople not getting paid for their work.

He also recognised that on the flip side, people like homeowners and developers also often had issues with not getting what they had paid for.

Semmons-Russell mentioned to a tech savvy mate that there needed to be some way to put money in an account first – in the middle so no one could touch it until the job was done – and that was when Maxwell was first introduced to the word escrow.

And so that’s what Max did. He created Green Light Escrow, a service to help protect both the tradesperson and the client.

Using his own first-hand knowledge and industry expertise, Semmons-Russell successfully launched his app but is continuing to refine the platform in order for it to fit the trade sector, hoping it embodies the spirit of “for tradies by tradies”.

August 2023 – Idealog Magazine