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Members of the Keepe team. (Keepe Photo)

Finding a good contractor has become easier for homeowners over the years, with proliferation of marketplaces like Porch and HomeAdvisor, but it’s still a rough go for renters and property managers in need of a reliable maintenance pro.

That’s the problem Keepe, a Seattle startup founded by a group of engineers from RealNetworks, wants to tackle.

The company has raised its first funding round, $1.5 million, to expand its online marketplace that connects property managers who look after rental homes with maintenance workers. Originally, Keepe planned to focus on homeowners but found that market crowded and saw more potential for growth through focusing on rentals.

The company’s goal is “to transform the renter experience and make renting a joyful experience for renters, property managers and landlords,” Rishi Mathew, CEO of Keepe and a former VP at RealNetworks, told GeekWire. “Property maintenance is a thorn in the side for them, and we believe that with a streamlined marketplace that leverages technology for scale, we can change the paradigm to a beautiful experience.”

The app that Keepe contractors use. (Keepe Photo)

Investors involved in the round include Seattle angel investor and former LinkedIn executive Sarah ImbachKirby Winfield of Seattle-based Ascend.vc; Santa Barbara Angel AllianceAlliance of Angels; and Seattle Angel Fund.

The funding round will allow Keepe to expand its service to more cities. Today it operates in Seattle and Phoenix.

On its website, Keepe said it has more than 100 vetted maintenance pros using its platform, and they have performed more than 3,000 jobs. Contractors on the platform are either independent or work with established maintenance companies; they are not Keepe employees.

Today the Seattle startup employs eight people and Mathew expects the headcount to double in the next six to eight months.

Mathew spent 11 years at RealNetworks, rising to the position of general manager/vice president of product marketing. Co-founder and CTO Vishal Srivastava also worked at RealNetworks as a solutions architect, with a stop at app development company SweetLabs before moving on to Keepe. Srivastava also made an appearance on the Travel Channel show “Could I Live There” in 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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