Brightnest’s co-founder Justin Anthony describes his startup as “a digital dashboard for your home.” And after using the service that past few weeks, I understand that analogy. Brightnest brings not only home maintenance, but home ownership, into the Internet age.
Brightnest launched in early 2012. The company has since raised just over $1 million in funding led by TechStars’ David Cohen. 500 Startups, OCA Ventures, Quotidian Ventures and a handful of angels also participated. A graduate of 500 Startups, the company’s genesis came after the two co-founders were driving around and released that a car has an information display that can tell the owner all sorts of things. But a house doesn’t.
Now 18 months and one slight pivot later, Brightnest is, as Justin told me, serving its users with a very relevant, personalized experience through an engaging and smart signup process.
It takes about a minute to sign up for Brightnest through the website or app. After connecting with Facebook or using a traditional signup form, the system learns about the user’s home. Where does the user live? What sort of household chores/activities are they interested in? Does the user have pets? Kids? Lastly, the system asks simple questions about the house involving the exterior construction, HVAC system, and inquires about extras like if there is a pool or garage.
This is where the startup thrives. Not only is the signup process quick, but it’s smart, allowing Brightnest to tailor the experience differently for each user.
I live in Michigan. It’s cold in the Winter and humid in the summer. Brightnest wisely created a system that allows my content and home maintenance items to fit my situation — mostly.
As I told Justin during our chat, I’m an avid home improvement nut. Minutes before I started writing this article, I was setting bricks in mortar for our new front steps (because I learned the hard way that I should use an angle grinder to remove loose bricks rather than trying to smash them out with a sledgehammer ’cause that just makes a bigger mess and makes the wife really mad). Brightnest isn’t completely for someone like myself. It’s for the person that’s looking for guidance as much as motivation.
Think Pinterest meets a handy dad. Brightnest displays household projects — chores, maintenance items, and crafty projects — in a grid layout. Each project is clearly labeled with how long it takes to complete and the supplies needed. All the content is created in-house, thus allowing the team to test and verify everything before passing it along to their users.
Items on my landing page includes “Clean your toilet (15 min.)”, Save money in the bedroom (30 min.)”, “Make a DIY animal coat rack (60 min.)” and “Inspect your air ducts (30 min)”. The idea is to present a low friction way to improve a house. The site has successfully created a way to make me want to inspect my air ducts. Essentially, if I know it will only take 30 minutes to inspect my air ducts, then that’s something I’m likely to at least attempt.
Moreover, owning a house comes with a lot of regular maintenance. Brightnest has its users covered there too. This is where I’ve started using the service.
Some tasks, for instance fertilizing your yard or testing smoke detectors, should be done several times a year on a regular basis. Just click the schedule button and up pops a menu that lets the user select a future date. Notifications can be emailed to the user and are also available through the iOS app. You know, just in case you want your email to nag you about chores, too.
Brightnest has seemed to create a helpful mix of tools and content. It might not have the depth of Pinterest or, likewise, Bob Villa, but the service has found a fantastic medium. As long as the site can continue to provide its users with fresh content and home improvement tips, Brightnest’s future is, well, bright.
Look for Brightnest’s Android and iPad app in the coming months.