If you wanted to get a new heating and cooling system in your house, it’s not exactly easy to shop around for the best price.
You’d have to call several contractors, invite them to your place so they can size it up and give you a quote. Sometimes those contractors (or their sales reps) will pay attention to other things, too — they’ll see if you seem well-off and price you up accordingly.
That’s the picture painted by Aaron Rovner, VP of business development and marketing for a new Trevose, Pa.-based startup called ServiceWhale. ServiceWhale says it can save homeowners time and money with its new online marketplace, which gives users free quotes so they can shop around for a contractor and not worry about getting quoted on anything other than the project at hand.
Backed by a $1.5 million round from U.S. and overseas angel investors, ServiceWhale launched in March. The platform now offers its service for HVAC, water heaters, flooring and roofing in the Philly region. Users answer questions about their project and contractors provide a quote. It’s free for homeowners to use.
One detail ServiceWhale is proud of: They’re not using your information to sell it off as leads. You don’t have to input your contact information to use their service.
ServiceWhale calls to mind DreamIt Ventures startup Bestimators, which also focuses on the home improvement industry. The main difference is that Bestimators sends its own staffers to a user’s home to assess the project and then collects price quotes from contractors. ServiceWhale is essentially cutting out that middle man.
When contractors book a job through ServiceWhale, they pay a 10 percent commission. If a contractor needs to do a follow-up estimate at the user’s home, they have pay a 1.5 percent commission to do so. About 70 local contractors are using the service, Rovner said. He declined to disclose how many projects have been booked through the service so far.
ServiceWhale was founded by Dmitri Saveliev, 44, of Princeton. He runs the day-to-day operations of the company.
One-third of the team of 15 works out of Trevose in the Neshaminy Interplex, while the engineering team works remotely — some are in Russia, where Saveliev is from, and some are in Denmark, said Rovner, who himself lives in North Carolina and splits his time between Philly and home. ServiceWhale shares an office and some team members with sister company ALTESO, an auto tech company that shares angel investor with ServiceWhale. That’s why the company is based in Trevose, Rovner said.