Above: BuildZoom co-founders Jiyan Wei and David Petersen
Image Credit: BuildZoom
As if big data and data science haven’t been reshaping every service and product we use already, it’s about to make shopping for a home improvement contractor hopefully that much better.
BuildZoom, a Y Combinator-backed startup that announced today it has raised $2.15 million, uses big data to find you the most suitable home improvement professionals based on their permits and history of projects.
While other companies attempt to help homeowners find the best professionals by hand-vetting them and relying on customer reviews and other info, BuildZoom analyzes more than 50 million construction permits to figure out the best contractors for a job. The idea here is that construction permits and past history should be the most objective way to profile contractors. BuildZoom also lets its customers rate and review the contractors they work with so that it can provide data such as how pleasant or on time they were, customer service, and so on.
Right now, the basic service is free for both homeowners and contractors, although contractors can pay to have their listings show up more prominently, much like what Zillow and Trulia offer real estate agents. The company has been experimenting in select cities with a new model in which it’s letting some of the top-rated professionals get the benefits of going premium in exchange for a cut of the projects they book.
In this model, which co-founder Jiyan Wei said is the model BuildZoom hopes to transition to eventually, the company is effectively betting its money on the contractors its data says are best, as it’s operating on the assumption they’ll book a lot of jobs.
The company also wants to start providing additional kinds of insights to homeowners based on its data, especially pricing for specific projects.
“We want to be able to tell consumers, ‘here’s how much you should expect [to pay] for this project,’” Wei told VentureBeat in an interview. Similar companies such as Pro.com provide unofficial estimates to homeowners based on data.
Formation 8 led this round, with Streamlined Ventures, Goldcrest Investments, and Brendan Wallace also participating. The company will use its funds for hiring and overall growth.
BuildZoom was founded in 2012 by Wei and David Petersen and is based in San Francisco. The company previously raised a first seed round of $1.4 million and participated in Y Combinator’s Winter 2013 batch.