Ashley Michael, left, and Patrick Opie, co-founders of Welcome Home. (Welcome Home Photos)
A new Seattle startup wants you to put down the hammer, rake or whatever other tool you might use to do work at home, and instead pick up your phone and send a text.
Emerging from stealth mode, Welcome Home is a predictive home maintenance service which helps organize contractors and schedule neighborhood deals. Every Tuesday, users are alerted to a deal available the next day, such as yard cleaning, window washing, car detailing and more. The company can also facilitate random jobs, such as the hanging of a television.
Welcome Home’s co-founders are Ashley Michael, a longtime real estate and property management professional, who is serving as CEO, and Patrick Opie, a tech veteran who previously started Scout9, a platform that helps guide users through the various stages of pet ownership.
“Everyone is just so busy,” Michael said about the inspiration for starting her own company.
Tackling a to-do list or figuring out who to contact for help can be overwhelming for homeowners, she said. Welcome Home bases its predictive maintenance model on seasons, geographical location, neighborhoods, types of homes in those neighborhoods, and more.
Welcome Home runs weekly home maintenance deals and facilitates communication with a “house manager” via text messaging.
The company recently wrapped up a test pilot the the Seattle neighborhoods of Magnolia, Queen Anne and Madison Park where they learned, among other things, that homeowners often postpone even the simplest maintenance tasks. The startup wants to be the middle person whose job it is to find the best contractors at the best price.
“It’d be ideal to have 20 homes in a neighborhood that are regularly opting into the different deals,” Michael said, “and also help them with tasks that might not be on the deal circuit.”
Rather than build an app, Welcome Home facilitates communication with its “house managers” via text. For instance, leaves piling up? Send a text to that manager to start the process for getting them cleaned up.
Welcome Home makes money by taking a small percentage of the price paid by customers to contractors for any services. Right now the company is not charging contractors any fee to be associated with its weekly deals as it seeks to motivate those contractors to provide the best service at the best price.
A number of tech companies have tried to tackle home repairs and services. Welcome Home says it takes what it calls a “more predictive and proactive approach” to home maintenance than companies such as Porch, TaskRabbit or Thumbtack. Michael called competitors’ approach “reactive,” meaning when homeowners have a need they seek out a service provider.
“WelcomeHome brings home services to the doors of homeowners in a very convenient, fun, and economical way,” she said.
Michael called Seattle a tough market for starting a home services company due to the cost of labor and materials. But even as other startups and tech companies face the economic uncertainty of a downturn, she’s optimistic about getting up and running in Seattle.
“I think that a lot of people are pulling projects or not choosing to do home remodels or there’s just a little bit of a shift going on in that industry,” Michael said. “So it’s a good time for us to have a lot of service providers to choose from and bring better deals.”
Welcome Home, which employs just Michael and Opie, has raised some pre-seed funding from investor Tihan Seale, but it did not share specific numbers. Other than Seattle, the startup plans to operate in Phoenix and then Denver.