There has never been a better time to consider a remodel. Homeowners have more tools than ever to inspire their designs, find recommended contractors and negotiate the best price. It used to be the magazines that led the way but those days are far behind us. Smart entrepreneurs have identified large and fragmented markets that are just waiting for technology products to be built to serve them.
VC-backed services such as Houzz, Zillow, Trulia and Angie’s List have led the way and become must-have tools for many homeowners. But a new kid on the block has taken a different approach and hopes to become your home improvement network. Simply put, “Porch is a place where neighbors and friends meet to share home projects and professionals they love.”
This summer while attending Dwell on Design, I sat down with Porch Chief Product Designer, Ha Phan, who is part of the founding team. Ha was excited to share their vision for Porch which piqued my interest and got me to bookmark their public launch date which is this week!
In true startup fashion they began product development over a year ago and worked out of Scott Austin’s (Chief Product Officer) converted garage. They soon moved into a warehouse with no heat or AC and a bathroom with a sink that drained into a bucket. No doubt they remained inspired by their conditions to build a product that they could use themselves. Beyond her credentials, Ha was recruited by Porch CEO Matt Ehrlichman because she had first hand knowledge about home building as she had just finished building a home from the ground up as did Matt.
As CEO and founder we felt Matt would be the best person to share what Porch is all about so we put him on the spot.
What separates Porch from the other VC-funded websites that promise to help home owners with their renovations?
A lot, but it largely resolves back to the data we have aggregated that no one else has. Porch has insights into 90M home projects and the professional that did the job. With this, we can help the homeowner with the biggest pains they endure – finding a professional they know they can trust, and understanding what the price will be of their project.
We are able to surface to homeowners the projects and prices from their neighbors’ homes, and which professionals their neighbors and friends have used and endorse. We are able to provide dramatically more confidence when choosing a professional and we do so in a unique experience – we let users browse their neighborhood and go through beautiful projects around them.
Remodeling and renovation is such a personal experience, do you foresee any challenges applying “big-data” when it comes to emotional decisions regarding choosing contractors or designers?
It can and should continue to be emotional and personal. Porch just helps provide the initial information homeowners need to feel informed as they start the process. We help them generate ideas, understand costs, and identify the professionals that do the work nearby. From there, users can and should absolutely talk with the professionals and find the right fit for their large projects.
For smaller projects like finding a plumber or a landscaper, seeing the professional who has done the most work in your neighborhood on homes like yours is all a person usually needs.
Is Porch a complete product to be used for home remodeling or do you envision it being used in conjunction with other sites, e.g. Houzz for design ideas and This Old House for DIY and how-to help?
Certainly the inspiration sites can continue to be used to get ideas – Porch is one of the several sites a user can rely on to browse beautiful photos and get great ideas. What is unique about Porch is that we show the cost of the projects as well as the full professional history.
Our focus is on helping get projects done – inspiration is just a small piece. So, yes, Porch can be used in collaboration with other sites or on its own.
Can Porch work on a global scale? Is big-data more difficult to capture outside of the US?
To date, we are only focused on the US market.
Since you’ve been through the process of building your own home, what is one tip you would give someone who is considering the same thing?
Use Porch so you can have an idea as to what you are getting into and the right professionals to use. Selecting the right professionals that have done it before isn’t easy, but if you choose correctly, the entire process runs smoothly.
Here are more details about Porch and Matt’s motivation for building it.
The Porch team has also created this helpful video that explains what they’re all about.
Would you use Porch?