Sequoia leads $10M round for home improvement negotiator Setter

You probably do not know how much it would cost to wash the windows of your house, landscape the garden, or replace countertops. But Setter does it. The start pairs it with a home improvement concierge familiar with all the suppliers, prices and common mistakes that plague these jobs. Setter finds the best contractors in manual labor, plumbing, electricity, carpentry and more. Investigate options, negotiate a massive fee and, with your additional profit margin, pay a competitive price without any hassle.

One of the most trusted start-up investment strategies is to look at where people spend a ton of money but hate the experience. That makes home improvements a prime target for disruptions, and it attracted a $ 10 million Series A round for Setter co-directed by Sequoia Capital and NFX. "The main problem is that contractors and homeowners speak different languages," says Guillaume Laliberté, co-founder and CEO of Setter, "resulting in unclear work environments, frustrated homeowners who do not know enough as to prepare contractors for success, and frustrated contractors who have to return several times. "

Setter is now available in Toronto and San Francisco, with more than seven reserved jobs per customer per year costing an average of more than $ 500 each, with 70 percent regular customers. With the fresh money, it can become a household name in those cities, expand into new markets and hire new products for clients and contractors.

I asked Laliberté why he cared about starting Setter, and he told me "because human lives improve when essential human activities can be made invisible". Growing up, his mother did not allow him to buy video games or watch television, so he learned to program his own games and build his own toys. "I had saved money to repair consoles and resell them, make beautiful foam swords for real live action games, buy and resell hearing aids, everything the people around me wanted!", He recalls, showing him the value of taking out the exercise of other people's lives.

Meanwhile, his co-founder David Steckel was building high-end houses for the rich when he discovered that they often had "house managers" that everyone would want but could not pay. What happens if a new company allows multiple owners to share an administrator? Laliberté says that Steckel describes it as " I'm not deceiving you, the clouds parted, the rays of the sunlight began to shine and the angels began to sing. " Four days later After receiving the tone of Steckel, Laliberté moved to Toronto to co-found Setter.

Users activate the application, explore a list of common services, connect with a concierge via chat and inform them of the maintenance needs of their home while sending photos if necessary. The concierge then tracks the best providers and communicates the work in detail so that things are done on the spot and on time. They return in a few minutes with a full quote or a diagnostic quote that is refined after a home visit. Customers can schedule visits through the application and keep in touch with their concierge to make sure everything is completed according to their specifications.

Tracking is what sets Setter apart from directory services such as Yelp or Thumbtack . " Other companies take your application and assign it to the next available contractor or simply share a list of available contractors and you need to complete everything yourself," a Setter spokesman tells me. They may start work faster, but they do not always get exactly what they want. Everyone in space will have to compete to get the best professionals.

Although potentially less scalable than Thumbtack's more compact approach, Setter expects better retention as customers leave the Yellow Pages and perform random web searches. The thumbtack went up to a valuation of $ 1.2 billion and had raised $ 273 million for 2015, some of Sequoia (presenting a curious potential for conflict of interest). That same promotion could have aligned investors behind the $ 2 million setter's initial round from Sequoia, Hustle Fund and Avichal Garg last year. The $ 10 million in today's Series A also included Hustle Fund and Maple VC.

The most difficult challenge for Setter will be to change the status quo of how people buy home improvements away from the relentless search for offers. You will have to educate users about the difficulties and possible long-term costs of obtaining the slapdash service. If Laliberté wants to fulfill his childhood mission, he will have to find a way to make the value of the satisfaction of the owners the lowest price.

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