BIM People – Fred Mills, Co-Founder, and Director of The B1M


Fred Mills graduated with an Architectural Engineering and Design Management BSc degree from Loughborough University, UK, before joining Willmott Dixon in 2008 and working his way up to become a Design Manager. He joined Osborne as a Pre-Construction Manager in 2012 and co-founded The B1M in his spare time with business partner Tom Payne. In 2015, he moved to full-time in The B1M.

Recently discussed BIM and the work of The B1M with Fred.

Please tell us how you became interested in BIM and how The B1M was founded?

I first became interested in BIM back in 2010 when I was working as a Design Manager for a main contractor. I saw it as a way of improving the whole experience of project delivery but struggled to find information on it. What I did find was boring and difficult to digest. It struck me that we were expecting millions of people around the world to learn and adopt BIM, but that we were making it hard for them.

I contacted my school friend, video producer Tom Payne, and we co-founded The B1M in 2012.

We’re a free YouTube channel for BIM and digital construction that is inspiring wider uptake of these approaches around the world. We want to move beyond the confines of just experts and help to upskill the vast majority of our industry in an engaging and accessible way.

We release original new video content every Wednesday at 12 noon (GMT) and that content is watched by people in 144 countries across six continents. Our videos appear at the top in the global YouTube search results for BIM-related terms and are the go-to resource for the connected-generation; over 60% of our audience are under 35 years of age.

Who are The B1M team members? 

The B1M is myself and my Co-Founder Tom Payne. We also have an editing team and are in the process of recruiting further.

Could you tell us about the videos the team makes? 

Our goal is to inspire a better industry with engaging content.

We chose video as it’s easy to digest and widely consumed across the web and social media. The shift toward streamed video content in recent years has been astonishing. There are now over 400 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, eight billion video views a day on Facebook and Cisco are projecting that 80% of all internet traffic will be video by 2019.

We make a mixture of explanatory “how-to” videos on BIM (and other subjects), documentaries, case studies, technology reviews, immersive 360 tours, interviews and TED-style talks.

Tom and I passionately believe that we need to make construction fun and enjoyable. We need to showcase it at its best to attract and retain the top talent. That’s what we’re trying to do every day with The B1M. 

What countries make up the main viewership of The B1M videos? 

It varies depending on the specific piece of content, but our channel average sees 34% of viewers from the United Kingdom, 15% from the United States, 12% from Australia and 10% from India. The remainder watch from 144 different countries across six continents – that often creeps into your mind when you’re staring down the lens on filming days!

What videos would you recommend readers view?

If you’re looking to find out about building information modelling then our “BIM for Beginners” series is a great place to start:

We’ve worked with Iria Carreira to make this available in Spanish too. That’s helping people in Spain ahead of their 2018 mandate and benefitting those across Latin America.

TheB1M's Fred Mills speaking at Google

TheB1M’s Fred Mills speaking at Google

The B1M covers stories on technological adoption in construction e.g. using drones. How do you see construction changing in the next decade? 

Personally, I think the next decade will see considerable change in our industry from disruptive technologies and the sharing economy. The biggest disruptions will come from the outside in. We’ve been plodding away not really changing for decades. If the likes of Apple, Google or Amazon entered our market things would be turned upside down overnight. Look at what iTunes did the music industry… or ask Nokia what they think of the iPhone. 

Do you think Britain is making steady progress in BIM adoption? What advancements do you predict for BIM in the next decade? 

The penny is gradually dropping. Project teams in large organisations that are working for the UK central government are probably slightly ahead and there are pockets of adoption across the industry at all levels.

But I think the vast majority have some considerable distance to travel. In many ways, the acronym “BIM” is part of the problem. People associate it with change and the unknown. If you talk to people about using digital technologies to make the way they work easier and more efficient you’ve got a much better chance of getting through to them. You need to personalise the value proposition.

I don’t think we’ll call it BIM for much longer. It will become part of broader digital construction… and then just business-as-usual! 

What can The B1M viewers look forward to for the spring and summer months of 2016? 

We want to share some of the amazing stories out there and have a number of case studies in the pipeline, both in the UK and internationally. We’re using technology like GoPro’s 360-degree filming kit and a drone that we have recently purchased to achieve that in a very visually compelling way – that’s all I can say for now!

The B1M:

The B1M YouTube Channel:

Follow The B1M, Fred Mills, and Tom Payne on Twitter: @TheB1M @Fred_Mills @getlamp

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