By Gracen Kostelecky, ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship
This story is part of a series featuring each of the fifteen startups in the CYstarters 2018 summer cohort. Each team has the opportunity to focus on their startup or business idea while receiving $6,500 or up to $13,000, along with mentorship, accountability, and educational sessions on how to build a business.
School: Senior at Iowa State University, studying software engineering with a minor in general business and entrepreneurship
Hometown: Ackley, Iowa
School: Senior at Iowa State University, studying entrepreneurship
Hometown: Norwalk, Iowa
Jacob McClarnon, owner of a residential painting business called Painter’s Promise was trying to solve a huge issue for his business; the complicated and timely process to quote paint projects. His solution was to create an online platform to help his customers get quotes for painting project. McClarnon, a business student, was looking to hire a technical developer to assist him with this project. He was introduced to Anthony House, a software engineering student. House owns a business called The Design GUIs, a development, hosting, and engineering company. The match made sense for what McClarnon wanted, but it wasn’t until House brought a different perspective, and encouraged him to think bigger than his own business. After a few short conversations, House came up with the name, HomePainter, pun intended. Now the two have partnered to revolutionize the way homeowners book residential painting projects.
What is HomePainter?
HomePainter is an online subcontracting platform for both homeowners and painters. Homeowners answer a series of questions about what they want painted, such as how many rooms, dimensions, current paint color, etc., and an algorithm outputs a quoted price. If the homeowner accepts the price, then HomePainter selects a vetted painter for the project.
From a painter’s perspective, this saves them time in driving to the individual’s house and quoting a project, and serves as an additional platform to book jobs.
How is HomePainter different than Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor?
We are more than just a lead service. These sites provide customers with a name and number to contact, while still putting a lot of responsibility on the homeowner to vet the company, get quotes, and then choose a painter. We provide an almost instantaneous quote through our platform, and if the price works for the homeowner, than we send one of our secure and vetted painters to complete the project. No more in-home estimates or searching for the right painter.
Who are your painters?
We hand-pick all the painters with whom we work with. We will quality check their work, and only partner with the highest quality painters in the area.
Have you had to pivot HomePainter since its starting?
We have pivoted quite a bit. We were originally using a business model similar to AirBnB, where after a homeowner received a quote, a list of painters would appear. You would then select your painter based on reviews and rankings. All the painters would cost the same, so all the customer would be doing is looking for the highest ranked painter.
We have since transitioned to the Uber model for selecting painters. The homeowner actually hires HomePainter, and trusts the company to provide the right painter to get the job done. HomePainter oversees the project, covers any liability, and sends the best painter for the job.
Did you have a favorite part of CYstarters?
Both of the days we had to pitch our business to the community, at the kick-off event and the CYstarters Demo Day, were exciting and extremely motivating. When you make your idea public, you are now instantly held accountable. Additionally, during the middle of CYstarters, we pitched at 1 Million Cups in Des Moines. This experience increased our audience tenfold, which helped motivate us even more.
What is your favorite resource?
The staff at the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship and SBDC have been hugely beneficial to our success. In addition, Dan Oh, President and CEO of OEI, Inc., took a special interest in us from the beginning. As a judge, he selected us to receive an addition $1,000 on Demo Day for our progress throughout the CYstarters program.
Advice for aspiring Iowa State entrepreneurs?
Just start. Don’t be afraid to share your idea. People you share your idea with won’t steal it, but will actually want to help you make it a reality. Just get out there and start something.
What are your goals going forward?
Short term, we will launch in the Des Moines market first. In two to three years, we would like to expand our reach to surrounding markets in the Midwest, such as Minneapolis and Kansas City. Long term, we want to develop a business which brings more success to the painting industry through our technology and mutually beneficial relationships between painters and homeowners.
How should others find and connect with you?
We are going to do a soft launch in the next few weeks. You go to our website, thehomepainter.com, and sign up for the email list to stay up-to-date on our business and to find out when we will be operating in your area. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.