Seattle startup Pro.com — which is trying to transform the way consumers find home improvement professionals — emerged on the scene last week with an impressive management team and lineup of investors. Now, the company‚ operating under the radar for several months, appears to be ramping up the marketing engines.
This billboard, see above, recently was erected along state route 99/Aurora Avenue heading southbound into downtown Seattle. That’s not too far from Pro.com’s headquarters in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, also home to Pro.com CEO Matt Williams’ former employer, Amazon.com.
As we’ve noted recently, several online real estate companies — including Trulia, Realtor.com and Zillow — are engaged in an advertising war as they battle for consumers’ eyeballs.
Backed with $3.5 million from Madrona, Jeff Bezos, Andreessen Horowitz and others, Pro.com appears to be joining that fray (at least in its hometown of Seattle). Interestingly, that’s also where one of Pro.com’s primary competitors — Porch — also happens to be based. To a lesser degree, Pro.com competes with Zillow Digs, the home improvement unit of the Seattle online real estate juggernaut.
When we spoke to Williams last week about Pro.com, he indicated a desire to corner the market in what he described as a “gargantuan industry.”
“We have a vision to be able to make local services accessible … in pricing, accessible in booking and accessible in payment across verticals well beyond home improvement,” he said.
For now, Pro.com will only be successful if it grabs consumers, proving that it can help plumbers, house painters and other service providers get jobs.
Perhaps the billboard is a starting point on that journey, though it is a bit unusual to see a startup company of Pro.com’s stage advertising at this level. We asked Williams for comment about the billboard and marketing spend, and we’ll update this post as we hear more.
UPDATE: Here’s what Williams had to say about the effort.
“It’s a rare opportunity for us to test a recognizable brand (that is a relatively virgin domain) from standing start. The billboard is just one of many methods. We’re starting to see some interesting results from various local, regional and national approaches.”