When it comes to growing DMV tech startups grabbing attention beyond the Beltway, RemodelMate may be next.
The company was founded by University of Maryland graduate Chad Hall, who wanted to simplify the construction process for homeowners looking to remodel by telling people the costs up front, where to order the materials and ensuring all contractors people used were licensed, bonded and insured. The result was RemodelMate, a service that connects independent contractors with local homeowners looking for remodeling help.
The D.C.-based service works like this:
- Homeowners check the renovation project they want, such as “kitchen remodel.”
- Depending on the project, RemodelMate can do a pricing estimate remotely (for things like calculating square footage of roofing), via Skype, or in person.
- Homeowners specify their project’s timeframe, budget, design and confirm the start date with the contractor RemodelMate pairs them with.
- Homeowners confirm construction milestones and contractor gets paid in stages until project is complete.
Despite this, Hall doesn’t see RemodelMate as primarily a tech startup. “I think we are more of a real estate startup than anything else,” he told us during a phone call. “We just use technology to get rid of some of the inefficiencies.”
Since its official launch in August 2016 out of 1776, RemodelMate migrated to Humble Ventures Accelerator, and then moved out to operate entirely remotely with only the occasional meetings out of UMD’s Startup Shell as the company grows. In addition to Hall, RemodelMate also employs community specialist Jordan Obleton and product specialist Nathalyn Nunoo.
In an interview with DC Inno, Hall shared that RemodelMate is experiencing 20 percent month-to-month growth. “Average order is also following that same trend,” he told us during a phone call this week. “At the end of June the average order value was around 8k and today it’s just over 15k.”
All the growth has the company looking to expand, especially after this summer when the service also started getting requests from outside the Beltway. Mainly the requests were from New York to Boston, but some also came in as far as Chicago and Detroit. Hall says the latter two aren’t yet viable for RemodelMate, however.
“It’s important to us that we build a very small and engaged community” he said, and explained the Chicago and Detroit requests were dispersed all around the city, whereas in New York many requests came in from Brooklyn. According to Hall, RemodelMate is planning to launch in New York City and Boston next spring.
As for Hall, he got involved in the business after being laid off from his job at Living Social, where he was in sales and marketing. During that time a friend approached him for help finding contractors to remodel her kitchen, and thought he would know people from his time previously working as a product specialist for Long Home & Fence in Maryland.
“I wish I could click click click and get my kitchen done,” Hall remembered his friend telling him, and he said she paid him to “sit beside her, not across from her,” during the remodeling process. It showed him how people needed a mate to help them with home improvement projects, and that construction workers needed to outsource their marketing.
Besides streamlining, what also makes RemodelMate’s approach to home improvement unique is Hall’s fascination with data.
While working for Long Fence & Home, Hall starting looking at trends in the sales of the items he was responsible for procuring. “I always looked at it from a purely data point perspective.” he said, then he joked: “I think that only got worse after working at Living Social.”
Now Hall uses data to determine RemodelMate’s ability to expand into a new city by looking at how clustered requests are. He also uses it to determine who his clients are. So far, he’s noticed some interesting trends about his DMV clients:
- 80 perecent of his clients are women ages 28 to 42 with an income in excess of $150,000. Hall says he’s noticed that although these women could afford D.C. the majority are “opting for space” and a “slower, quiet lifestyle” in the suburbs.
- RemodelMate makes the most sales from Southern Prince George’s County, Md, with Alexandria, Va, coming in a close second.
- Hall says the majority of D.C. sales are from landlords or real estate investors. (According to him, 30 percent of the projects are from landlords and real estate investors.)
As the company eyes its East Coast expansion, it will be interesting to see if those trends change. But in the meantime, Hall, who is originally from Harlem but now calls D.C. home, wanted to make it clear that RemodelMate’s HQ isn’t going anywhere.
“We don’t plan on leaving,” said Hall. “That’s a question we get pretty often. We do plan to stay in D.C.”-30-