The Happy Home Company is aiming to eliminate the headaches of home maintenance and improvement, and it’s raised $3.5 million in seed funding.
The company has been relatively quiet, at least in terms of talking to the media, since I wrote about it a year ago. CEO Doug Ludlow told me today that this was intentional — he wanted to work out the kinks in the model before making a big marketing push.
Ludlow previously sold his startup Hipster to AOL (which owns TechCrunch). With The Happy Home Company, he’s said that his goal was to take the things that can be “mystifying and terrifying to the average homeowner and to make them more accessible.” His team achieves that by assigning “home managers” to each customer. When something needs to fixed, those managers can help identify the issue and hire the right expert for the job, and they can also work with you on a more long-term maintenance plan.
Other startups seem to have struggled in this market, with Porch making significant layoffs and Homejoy shutting down. (Homejoy was less of a direct competitor, given its focus on cleaning, but it was in the broader home services industry and also attempted to expand into handyman services.)
That’s why Ludlow said it was important to get the business model right. One encouraging sign: While it took Happy Home 384 days to reach 1,000 users and $1 million in projects, it only took 38 days to reach its next 1,000/$1 million. He also said that as people start trusting the service more, they’re using it for bigger jobs — the biggest so far has been $36,000.
And the model has evolved. For one thing, the startup no longer charges a monthly fee. Ludlow said that while the $9.99 fee wasn’t a big cost compared to spending tens of thousands of dollars on home maintenance, it still scared people away, so it made more sense to make money from transaction fees. The startup has also axed its mobile app, because users were more interested in interacting with their home managers via text message.
Next up is expansion beyond the Bay Area. In fact, Ludlow said that since The Happy Home Company connects users with existing handymen and service providers, it should work anywhere in the United States, although response times will probably be slower in some markets.
Here are the seed investors:
- Chris Sacca and Matt Mazzeo, Lowercase Capital
- Brian Pokorny, SV Angel
- David Tisch, Box Group
- Dave Morin, Slow Ventures
- Josh Felser, Freestyle Capital
- Aaron Levie, Box
- Robert Stephens, Founder of Geek Squad
- Matt Coffin, Founder of LowerMyBills
- Fabrice Grinda and Güimar Vaca Sittic
- Jai Choi of Partech and Tekton
- Sazze Partners