After buying a new home in North Andover in 2011, Eric Horndahl says he sat through the standard sales pitch from a replacement windows rep. It lasted several hours, his wife had to be there with him, and the price quote at the end was a shocker: $40,000. Plus, he says, “they put pressure on you to sign the contract right then. It was crazy to me that someone would make a decision like that.”
For Horndahl, who’d been an executive at eBay and TripAdvisor, it felt like a startup opportunity. Why not make it easier to get prices for window replacement without enduring the in-home pitch?
In April, Horndahl and co-founder Brian Waldman launched the website Renoviso, which does just that. It offers online pricing, and then arranges with a network of independent installers to do the work. But unlike lead-generation sites that merely charge contractors a marketing fee for funneling customers to them, Renoviso takes responsibility for the whole experience. After the company has provided a quote online, customers can request that an installer visit their home to take measurements and answer questions.
Renoviso currently sells its own “white label” window, made in Chicopee, as well as Pella and Harvey products. And the company just raised $1.4 million, its first round of funding, led by NextView Ventures of Boston.
The company’s vision, explains Horndahl, is to eventually branch out from windows to other home renovation projects, like flooring, doors, kitchen cabinets, and countertops, “where the product is a key part of the purchase,” Horndahl says. “These are big ticket items that require professional installation, and sometimes, professional measurement before they are installed.” Horndahl observes that today, most of those projects require lots of phone calls and in-person meetings before you can start comparing prices.
Renoviso is currently doing window installs only in eastern Massachusetts, with plans to expand from there. Other backers of the company include RRE Ventures; Wayfair chief executive Niraj Shah; Accomplice’s BOSS Syndicate on AngelList; NextGen Angels; and angel investor Fabrice Grinda. Grinda has backed such businesses as Airbnb, FanDuel, and Alibaba. (David Beisel, a partner at NextView Ventures, blogged this morning about his decision to invest in Renoviso.)
The five-person startup is currently searching for office space in Boston, Horndahl says.
Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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