How Chad Hall Turned The HGTV Renovation Into A Digital Product With Remodelmate
Remodeling your home today isn’t the way your grandmother did it in the past. At least that’s what D.C.-based Remodelmate is telling millennials in its latest commercial.
A renovation marketplace, Remodelmate wants to make millennials’ dreams of homeownership as easy as pushing a button and getting connected with the services they need for their home.
As an online marketplace for buying, selling, and managing home renovations, Remodelmate is looking to be a bridge of trust during the remodeling process. By providing customers with access to its platform, the company hopes to demonstrate transparency in the renovation process. The goal is to build confidence in quality work being completed by contractors for clients using a milestone-based payment system.
Trust in the home improvement industry is a big deal. Consumer news websites such as Consumer Affairs dedicate large amounts of content towards educating homeowners.
Trust is one of the challenges Remodelmate CEO Chad Hall says he and his team are working to overcome.
Watching HGTV can give you an idea of how a home renovation should go, but that’s really not how it works in real life, Hall said.
With a background in construction, Hall believes that if Remodelmate can make the renovation process easier, homeowners will buy in. It’s a bet he and co-founder Jonathan Amar believe will pay off big.
How big? U.S. home improvement expenditure was around $394 billion in 2018, Statista reported earlier this year. Many people are looking to upgrade their existing home or one they just purchased.
The millennial population Remodelmate wants to reach struggles to access funds for such projects. However, Remodelmate addressed the financial hurdle through a project financing partnership with Sofi. Sofi lets Remodelmate customers apply for home improvement loans so property owners can renovate now and pay back over time.
Hall talks to Moguldom about how Remodelmate is disrupting the industry, his strategy for fundraising and the benefits of being a small team that gets things done.
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Moguldom: Why did you start Remodelmate?
Chad Hall: I grew up working in construction at my dad’s company. When I got an opportunity to work in technology at LivingSocial, I noticed that while other industries had been disrupted by technology, construction wasn’t one of them. I also noticed everyone watching HGTV renovation episodes thinking it’s simple. Like it was only a matter of saying, “here’s my budget, here’s what I want to do to my house, and here’s how long I have to do it.” The shows make it seem as though it happens really easily without assistance, but it’s not really how it works in real life. I wanted to turn the HGTV renovation into a digital product. So I combined my experience in construction and technology to create the product I wish existed in the world.
Moguldom: You started Remodelmate in 2016. What has been the response thus far in the industry?
Chad Hall: Contractors have enjoyed it because they don’t have to pay for the leads which is the way Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor work with contractors to grow their business. We’re different because we’re a demand-fulfillment platform. When we introduce a contractor to a homeowner, that project is booked. So, contractors love it. As far as the consumer side, our first product was built by me and wasn’t perfect and we continue to iterate it. Over the course of the last three years, I’d say our current version is feature complete as I initially envisioned. The market has taken to it pretty well. We’re growing roughly at 20 percent month-over-month. The consumer side helps us decide which projects we should focus on and give us some more insights about the problem we’re actually fixing.
Initially, we thought that it was about speed and the cost associated with the renovation. While those things are important, homeowners enjoy that we usually deliver a bathroom or kitchen in half the time and half the cost. What we really noticed that they liked is the feeling they have somebody they can trust throughout the process to help them avoid the pitfalls of the renovation. It seems like customers are enjoying the digital HGTV experience we provide.
Moguldom: What have been some challenges since launching Remodelmate?
Chad Hall: The biggest challenge is solving for trust. We have two very distinct customers. One that says, “I’m in a rush to get this done. My roof is leaking, and I need work done today.” That person is very easy for us to convert because we give them a price, a timeline and we invite them to work with a professional instantly.
On the other side, you have people who want to get this project done but are a little bit apprehensive about the process. It takes a little bit of time for us to be able to explain to them we’re going to give a price that is good for the project and they can trust the price they are charged because it’s based on milestones. Customers pay via credit card as the project moves along. We always encourage people if they have any questions, they can reach out to our concierge team. So being able to build a large amount of trust, through a totally digital experience is a challenge. But it is one of the things that gets easier with time. As more people go through the process and enjoy their experience, they tell their friends and now the easy remodeling gospel starts to spread.
Moguldom: What have been some notable wins since launching?
Chad Hall: We won a couple of pitch competitions. We are the reigning champs for AfroTech. We won $10,000 last November, and I will be going back this year. We’ve been able to raise half a million dollars from a group of really helpful investors who both know the space and understand where it is going to be in 10 years. And even bigger than all of that, just being able to say we came up with this idea three years ago. It looked like a long shot and today people are using our product. We’re averaging a least a booking a day at this point.
Moguldom: What do you look for when hiring a team?
Chad Hall: We have a few cultural tenets. One that’s the most important for us internally is three versus 30. What it means is that three people that are excited or enthusiastic about the mission of the organization are better than 30 with lukewarm enthusiasm. I think one of the misnomers in startups is that a big team is a marker for success. Whereas for us, we’re actually proud of how much we can get done with such a small team. We’re a little tongue in cheek, where we say we always want to keep improving, a play on words since we’re in the home improvement space. We’re agile and we are always looking for people that are enthusiastic, have a versatile set of skills, and are ambitious about what they believe the future should look like as it pertains to home improvement.
Moguldom: How do you maintain productivity with your co-founders and other team members being a remote team?
Chad Hall: We have a daily standup call at 11 a.m. where we go around and explain what happened yesterday, what we’re working on, etc. We keep the lines of communication open through Slack and manage projects for productivity with Trello or Notion.
Moguldom: You’ve won pitch competitions and raised $500,000 in funding. How was the fundraising process for you?
Chad Hall: The fundraising process is pretty simple. I think one of the things that is different for me as a two-time entrepreneur is that I tend to not raise money until we have hit a really big milestone. Getting a capital infusion is not because we’re running out of runway but because I think it’s the way that I can grow faster. I think one of the challenges I see with startups these days is that they’re trying to raise money because they can no longer sustain their operations, or because they feel like it’s the thing to do. Whereas for us, we’ve always aligned our fundraising goals based on another period of growth. Unless we believe that we can go from doing $100,000 a month to a million of dollars a month, we’re not looking to raise capital. So, the fundraising process is pretty easy for us.
Moguldom: Where do you see your company in five years?
Chad Hall: Five years from now, definitely nationwide. We’ll be able to serve all the major metropolitan cities and probably some of the secondary ones. We would also think that we’re going to have some expansion in terms of product offerings. We think that windows, roofing, siding, doors, floors, kitchens, and bathrooms are the middle 60 percent of the projects we’ve done. But we’re going to build products and make it easier for somebody to purchase a kitchen over the internet. That would be having preset materials, lower and more competitive labor prices, and faster turnaround times.