A cloud-based platform to get your house in order
It’s springtime, and Elizabeth Dodson wants to help clean up the mess in your house. Specifically, Dodson in interested in your your home-related paperwork: invoices, receipts, photos, maintenance tasks, home improvement outlines. She co-founded HomeZada, a cloud-based home-management platform, to help homeowners move that valuable information from boxes and file cabinets to the web.
But HomeZada is more than digital storage for insurance purposes. The comprehensive solution (mobile and desktop versions) helps long-time homeowners and new buyers maintain and manage their budgets, plans and possessions online. The platform allows users to create calendars for track and set alerts for scheduled maintenance (time to change that air filter!), monitor the value of their belongings and access dozens of templates for popular home improvement projects.
“Most people know they need counters, cabinets, appliances and floors,” Dodson says, “but they forget about faucets, sinks, garbage disposals, and then wonder why their projects are over budget.”
With her co-founders John Bodrozic and David Ing, Dodson previously worked at Meridian, developing software for commercial construction projects. But it was her personal experience — moving into a new home and dealing with the nightmare of scattered paperwork —that revealed a gap in the residential arena.
“I had all this data spread out everywhere,” Dodson recalls. “I said, ‘Wait a second, if I can manage these large buildings, how come there’s no tool to help me manage my home?’”
To fund the startup, the founders needed to show traction in design and usage. Dodson admits that when pitching an unfamiliar product, it takes time and tweaks to get investors on board. Last year, HomeZada secured $2.1 million in seed funding from Moneta Ventures and other private investors. The Sacramento-based firm currently has 10 companies in its portfolio —eight of them local — and 80percent of the $25 million fund is invested in tech companies.
Moneta decided to invest in HomeZada because the co-founders had “a proven track record with Meridian, and a solid vision and idea,” says Denise Ferre, partner and CFO for Moneta.
Dodson acknowledges that the HomeZada concept has evolved since its launch. The company uses A/B tests (like comparing two versions of a webpage) to assess the needs of the market, and adds new features based on demand.
“You may not know which features are going to resonate with the market, so releasing specific features a piece at a time helps determine what users want and need,” Dodson says. “This gives a company time to earn revenue and secure additional funding if the business needs it, and it also creates more marketing opportunities to talk about your product and your company instead of one large marketing launch.”
The latest feature, Zada Listings, allows home sellers to post pictures and details about their home for potential buyers. Homeowners can use Zada Listings with their real estate agent as well. After the sale, the home inventory gets transferred electronically, giving the new owner an online digital profile of the home.
Sellers must pay a $75 fee for a six-month listing on Zada Listings. For homeowners who want to manage their home, the company offers a free version and a premium version of the solution ($59 per year subscription). HomeZada also has a professional version for real estate agents, builders, insurance agents and service providers.
By: Russell Nichols
April 10, 2015