Recently I had the opportunity to interview Matt Ehrilchman, the CEO of Porch.com. Matt shared with us his inside views of the home improvement industry, technology in the home and why the Porch and Lowe’s partnership works so well.
Porch.com is still in it’s first year, and is already making headlines amongst consumers and well over one million home professionals across the nation. Porch is bridging the gap between home improvement industry professionals and DIY Consumers by making the construction business far more transparent.
Imagine that you’re a homeowner looking to get some help finishing the retile job you started in your bathroom. You’ve been working on the project for a full weekend, and you’ve decided you’re in over your head. Since you bought the tiles at Lowe’s you head into your local Lowe’s store to see if they know of any professionals in the area who’d be willing to pick up where you left off.
The sales person you ask would pull out their smart phone, as you a few questions about the project and your home, and then would offer a list of vetted, local professionals who have similar experience including photos, pricing and who in your neighborhood has used them. They would find all this information, plus a place for you to store future project inspiration through porch.
Question 1: The Lightbulb Moment
Zach Wiliams: I know you got the idea to start Porch.com while building your own home, but what exactly lead you to the idea? Was there a moment or a breaking point that was like a light switch being turned on?
Matt Ehrilchman: At the time we began considering the idea for Porch, the opportunity just seemed perfect. Here was a real problem that homeowners like myself were actually facing, and it wasn’t being solved by the competitors. The light really clicked on when we considered the “how” in solving the problem – using Data. The data-driven approach has been proven time and time again by some of the best and biggest companies in the tech space – why not the home improvement space? We realized that we could provide real value and interesting insights by organizing all this home [improvement] data across the country, and so Porch was born.
Question 2: Trends and Porch.com
Zach: What current trends in the Home Improvement Industry work the best with Porch.com that may have helped spark the idea in the first place?
Matt: There’s no question that people are going online throughout the entire process of improving or maintaining their homes. It has become a major part of the journey for homeowners to get inspiration for project ideas, informed on costs, and find the professionals that do the work. As a result, if professionals want to get exposure, they are forced to have a presence online. The challenge lies in the fact that all this information is scattered throughout the web and homeowners are forced to hunt-and-peck to find what is truly valuable for them specifically. Porch is bringing all of this information together in one place for homeowners and local home professionals to get connected.
Question 3: What’s next for Home Improvement?
Zach: Where do you see the Home Improvement Industry going in the next 5 – 10 years?
Matt: This is a tough one. If you would of told me at our launch in September of 2013 that we would grow from 25 employees to 125 employees in a few short months, I wouldn’t have believed you. Technology is always accelerating the process of innovation, and the home improvement industry is not immune.
Question 4: Porch.com and Lowe’s
Zach: We know Lowe’s has a major focus on the DIY Consumer. Is that part of the reason you think Porch.com and Lowe’s will be a successful partnership?
Matt: The partnership with Lowe’s Home Improvement is truly ideal. On a daily basis, Lowe’s employees get asked by shoppers to recommend professionals for all sorts of reasons. It might be a job that homeowner would rather not do themselves, or one they’ve started and need help to finish. Whatever it may be, there wasn’t an easy way for Lowe’s employees to help those homeowners before now. Lowe’s can better serve their customers by helping them find local professionals and connect right there in the store with Porch.
Question 5: 2014 Home Improvement Trends
Zach: What are the biggest trends you’re seeing in the Home Improvement industry this year?
Matt: The “internet of things” trend in the home improvement space has been interesting. Lowe’s has a line of Iris products that let’s homeowners wirelessly control and monitor their home from anywhere using a computer, tablet, or smartphone. These technologies are giving average homeowners affordable access to gadgets that the Jetsons could only dream about.
Question 6: Technology
Zach: Technology obviously plays a major role in every part of our lives. How do you foresee technology impacting the Home Improvement Industry in the near future and the distant future?
Matt: With all honesty, it’s a very exciting time to be a technology company in the home improvement space. I believe that the theme of a more connected community will continue to grow, especially as technology makes it easier for people to share and get precisely what they need. With Porch, but also with services like Nextdoor, we are starting to see the emergence of technologies that give people the insights they need to make well-informed decisions. People are doing more research than ever before; in doing so they are taking matters into their own hands using the tools and information available to them. Technologies that pull people and the information they want together will go a long way towards helping the home space grow and evolve.
Question 7: Super Heroes
Zach: We know you’re a great entrepreneur, and the success of Porch.com really attests to that. Entrepreneurs often have to be a jack-of-all-trades, plus your a husband and a father, that’s some serious multi-tasking. So what we want to know is, based on the many hats you wear each day, what super hero best describes your personality?
Matt: Wow what a great question – I’m actually a big superhero and comic fan! I really liked the Iron Man movies and the idea of Tony Stark building technologies to solve his own problems. If I’m Iron Man, my wife is definitely Wonder Woman. Building a company is difficult and time consuming and she has been through the process of starting up with me on more than one occasion – this time with two young boys. I’m very thankful to have her by my side on this journey.