Last week on the GeekWire podcast, Porch CEO Matt Ehrlichman explained how he wants to build a very big company to transform how people use data to make better home improvement decisions.
Now, we’re getting a glimpse into the scope of Ehrlichman’s entrepreneurial vision. A SEC filing this week indicates that Porch.com has raised $8.2 million of a $27.6 million round. It’s unclear whether the funding represents new cash over the company’s $6.25 million seed round, which was announced back in June but Ehrlichman said on the radio show was raised last year. It’s also unclear how much of the $27.6 million has been committed, or if that’s the overall target. (If the company indeed closed the seed round last year, it would make sense for Porch to be raising more cash now, especially given the big aspirations that the startup has discussed. More on that below).
What’s most interesting about the SEC filing — beyond the sheer dollar amount — is the involvement of a board member by the name of Joe Hanauer.
Hanauer is the former CEO of Coldwell Banker and the chairman of Move Inc., a publicly-traded online real estate company which attracts about 20 million visitors per month. Move also happens to be a direct competitor of Trulia and Zillow, the latter of which is competing with Porch through its new Zillow Digs home improvement offering.
Also listed as Porch directors in the SEC filing are Facebook executive Javier Olivan and Frank Anton, the vice chairman of Hanley Wood, a media and marketing services company that serves the residential, commercial design and construction industries.
Ehrlichman declined to comment on the SEC filing, or the involvement of Hanauer, Olivan and Anton.
Porch already had some big-time backers behind it, including Silicon Valley angel investor Ron Conway, former eBay president Jeff Skoll and Seattle’s Geoff Entress.
On the GeekWire podcast last week, Ehrlichman said that Porch is “rocking and rolling” with plans to more than triple its staff of 30 in the coming year.
“We are disrupting those companies that are out there that just aren’t doing it well enough to help people to improve their homes, and we are doing it with data,” said Ehrlichman, who previously served as CEO of Thriva and CampRegister.com.
Porch launched its service nationally last week with data on 1.5 million professionals and 90 million home projects. The marketplace is designed to give homeowners information about service providers and the specific projects that have taken place in their neighborhoods — everything from photos of individual projects to customer reviews of the contractors who did the work. The goal is to help home owners find the best professional for the deck or kitchen remodel in their specific area, allowing users to sort projects on a map.
“Right now, if anyone tries to go and hire the right professional for their home, it is hard to do. It is a pain,” he said on the show. “What’s different (with us) is the data. Porch really is the first time that anyone has organized really the tremendous amount of home improvement data, and we are building the first home improvement network.” Porch uses both public and private data to compile information on remodeling projects, organizing it into what Ehrlichman calls a “home graph.”
Ehrlichman also discussed on the show the rationale for why they focused on the desktop experience first, noting that the strategy allowed them to iterate and learn faster. Using that data, they plan to move into mobile in the coming months.
“We are able to learn really fast to understand what customers want. That’s the name of the game…” he said. “Porch has taken a very different approach, and it is in a very different place than a lot of startups in terms of the amount of money that we’ve been able to raise and the approach that we are taking. Our approach really was not to even focus on desktop or mobile, but to focus on data. We have spent a year on data.”
In addition to Zillow Digs, Porch competes with Houzz, which raised $35 million earlier this year from Sequoia Capital, Comcast Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Yammer founder David Sacks.
Here’s more from our conversation with Ehrlicman, which starts at minute 8:30.