A Portland startup wants to help home service professionals speed up their workflow and waste less time by using augmented reality, live streaming, and smartphones.
Streem today announced a $1.7 million seed round from GVR Fund; Flying Fish (its first Portland investment); Columbia Ventures Corp; Rogue Venture Partners; and Curious Capital. It also received funding from betaworks, which picked Streem to be apart of its visioncamp accelerator program that kicks off next month in New York City.
The company aims to give home service professionals a way to more quickly diagnose and quote a customer’s inquiry by using smartphone technology.
Customers can use Streem’s app to stream HD video of their given issue to the professional, who can use a digital toolbox to take measurements and other notes. Computer vision technology can automatically detect the brand and model number of a part or appliance. Professionals can guide the conversation with a laser pointer and use arrows anchored to a 3D map of the space. The photos, videos, notes, and data stay saved on the app, which utilizes Apple’s ARKit.
The idea is to help professionals assess a problem during a “virtual visit” and gather the necessary tools — all before they physically enter a home.
“Seasoned professionals have an immense amount of experience to draw on when doing their work, and by using Streem, they make it easier and more convenient for themselves, and consumers, to deliver this invaluable resource,” Streem CEO Ryan Fink said in a statement.
In a statement, betaworks ventures Partner Peter Rojas noted that “while there has been a lot of innovation in the home services industry around helping consumers find a provider, we haven’t seen nearly as much when it comes to enhancing collaboration and communication.”
“We’re excited that Streem is changing this through a platform that simplifies a necessary, but often burdensome, process with a tool that is as easy to use as making a phone call,” he said.
Indeed, companies like Porch, Pro.com, Thumbtack, TaskRabbit, and even Amazon are trying to create new ways that match home service professionals with customers. Streem is similar, but with a focus on the initial diagnosis aspect of an interaction. The company partnered with HomeAdvisor in October to help find service professionals, who pay a fee to use the platform. Customers can use the app for free.
The funding will be used to grow the team of eight employees and ramp up development and marketing. Streem today announced veteran entrepreneur Jef Holove as its new chief operating officer. Fink, who previously sold smart glasses startup OnTheGo to Atheer in 2015, started the company with Sean Adkinson, who was CTO of Provata Health.
Streem’s idea is not completely new. In 2013, a Seattle startup called ResolutionTube built a mobile app to help technicians troubleshooting problems. The company raised a $1.5 million seed round led by Madrona Venture Group.
Fink noted that ResolutionTube focused on internal use within a business, while Streem is focused on plumbers, handymen, electricians, painters, etc. that work directly with customers.
“It seems that ResolutionTube annotated photos, opposed to using AR in live video to help guide the conversation,” Fink told GeekWire. “Streem uses 3D AR collaboration tools live in the video stream, and anchored to the real world, to guide the conversation and make it a more efficient interaction. More importantly though, we use the depth data we’re receiving to provide the professionals with the ability to remotely take measurements and AI to analyze the photos to automatically recognize serial numbers, barcodes, logos and other information the professionals would typically need to be onsite to collect.”
There was also another startup called “Streem” that built media streaming technology — Box acquired it in 2014. A spokesperson for Streem had no comment when asked about potential naming conflicts.
Another Portland-area startup building augmented reality, Torch 3D, raised its own seed round in October.