When was the last time you changed your home’s air filter? If you’re like me and the majority of other homeowners across the U.S., this routine home-maintenance task is easy to forget because filters are only changed every few months or so. But the costs of not changing the filter are high: reduced air quality, higher energy bills and, over time, dirty air filters can even contribute to A/C system issues and failures.
A startup called FilterEasy, which is offering a subscription-based filter replacement program for homeowners, has been helping to address this problem. And now the company has raised $1.2 million in seed funding to continue to grow its business.
The funding round was led by Mike Kwatinetz of Azure Capital, with participation from RTP Capital and several angel investors.
Based in Raleigh, N.C., FilterEasy was founded by two former NCSU students, Kevin Barry and Thad Tarkington, who left college to build the company. After participating in the Greenville-based The Iron Yard accelerator program, the team launched FilterEasy out of beta in March 2014.
The site currently offers air filters in over 40 different sizes and three quality levels, which covers most residential air filter needs today. To get signed up, homeowners provide their personal information, select their filter and tell FilterEasy how often they want it shipped to them – like every three months, for example.
“Where we see the value is that most homeowners can never remember to change [their air filter],” says Tarkington. “There are over 120 million homes in America that use these filters, but it’s something that you don’t think about. And when you finally do, you have to go to the store – it takes an hour, maybe they don’t have your size – it’s this whole long process to change a simple $10, $15 or $20 filter.”
FilterEasy’s pricing is the same as retail, but is sold on a recurring subscription basis instead of being a traditional e-commerce site. Consumers are charged when their filter ships, similar to something like Amazon’s subscribe-and-save.
However, Amazon’s site at present offers a limited selection of air filters on subscription and sells them in more expensive multi-packs. This doesn’t really address the main problem with using air filters, notes Tarkington. When it comes time to use the next one in the pack, homeowners will forget.
With FilterEasy, the product shows up right when it’s time to swap out the old one.
Since partnering and co-locating with U.S. filter manufacturer Flanders, the startup is able to ship filters directly to homeowners at the same cost they would be in the store.
Since its launch, FilterEasy has signed up over 10,000 paying subscribers and is now seeing a revenue run rate of over $1 million per year.
Many of the subscribers skew older, Tarkington tells us. They’re people who’ve experienced the problem first-hand, having owned a home for several years, and maybe even had to change out their A/C system once or twice. They understand the value in this home-maintenance task.
Now a team of 13, FilterEasy will use the additional funding for marketing purposes, to help get the word out and educate a wider range of consumers about the service’s value, Tarkington says. In addition, the company is beta-testing a program for commercial businesses, such as gyms and restaurants, which should launch in the near future.