Image Credits: RichLegg / Getty Images
Home owners in the U.S. spend upwards of $300 billion annually on home repairs and maintenance — a huge sum that often comes with another, more hidden cost: the stress of finding reliable tradespeople, managing those jobs and (in the worst-case scenario) picking up the pieces if things go wrong.
Now, a startup called Super has built what it believes is a “fix” for that problem: a subscription service for maintenance and repair services for your property. Today, it’s announcing a Series B of $20 million to continue scaling that business across the U.S. after growing its business 400 percent each year for the past two years.
The funding is being led by Aquiline Technology Growth (ATG), with participation from Munich Re Ventures, Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures from the insurance industry, Moderne Ventures, Joe Lonsdale’s firm 8VC, the Qatar Investment Authority and Solon Mack Capital. It’s an impressive mix, as it underscores Super’s traction and credibility among those close to its field: Munich Re Ventures and Liberty Mutual are insurance powerhouse, Aquiline and Moderne focus on insurance and real estate startups, QIA has extensive investments in the construction sector and Solon Mack is the family office of the Mack real estate entrepreneurs.
Jorey Ramer, the founder and CEO of Super, said he came up with the idea for Super after he sold his previous company, Jumptap — an advertising network acquired by Millennial Media (which is now part of Verizon by way of its acquisition of AOL, just like TechCrunch). Having been an apartment renter and dweller for all of his adult life, he found himself buying property when he moved to the Bay Area, and it came with more than a little reluctance because of the headache of taking care of his new home.
“I liked being a renter,” he said in an interview. “You pay a fee, and you know what to expect.” (Indeed, “Super” is double word play meaning “great” but also the nickname for the superintendent that often handles the maintenance and repair in an apartment building.)
Looking at the state of the market, he said he wasn’t very happy with the services that were already out there offering to provide maintenance and care, which he found were too entrenched in their old way of doing things (something that I’d agree with from personal experience as a homeowner in England, by the way).
“These companies have prioritized costs over service,” he said. “Yes, they have built service provider networks, but they are not service providers that you would invite into your own home if you were finding them directly. The whole system creates incentives to do the least amount of work possible, or upsell work that you just don’t need. They are deeply ingrained systems that needed to be reinvented from scratch.”
And that is what Super is aiming to do. Right now, the company provides links through to vetted providers of repair and maintenance services that are priced in tiers of $20, $60 or $90 per month depending on levels of service (for example: appliance, home, premium home; breakdown coverage; expanded coverage, and so on). Today there is a $75 copay on all repairs and other work, but as the company continues to hone its business model and relationships with suppliers — including those who might sell its service to home owners such as the companies selling the actual homes — that is likely to change.
“The long-term vision,” Ramer said, “is eventually to cover 100 percent of your repair and maintenance in your home. You will never have to pay for anything because everything will be included in the subscription.”
Super is touching on an emerging but very interesting point here. Just as companies like Uber and Lyft have helped change the conversation about the future of transportation services, companies like Opendoor are changing the dynamics and conventions around how people buy and sell — and potentially own — homes. That’s presenting a big opportunity to rethink every stage of that process, bringing in new players like Super, and old players like Angie’s List that are now taking new approaches; to also reconsider not just what they offer to the market, but what channels they use to find customers. (It’s an area that Amazon, unsurprisingly, is also eyeing up, as the home is the ultimate platform for just about everything else it offers to the market in terms of products and services.)
Ramer said that while Super today is primarily selling directly to homeowners, there are many options open in the future for how its service might be bundled with others, be they buying the property, or buying insurance, or even buying the white goods and other things that will eventually fill those homes.
“Super has developed an effective, convenient platform to provide premium care and repair services for homeowners,” said Max Chee of ATG in a statement. “Super is tackling an industry that is ripe for innovation with a smart, technology-forward approach, and we are excited to work with Jorey and the rest of the team at Super to help continue that exciting trajectory.”