Pro.com started out as a marketplace that wanted to connect homeowners with home improvement and renovation professionals. Today, however, the company is a tech-centric general contractor with licenses in Washington state and California -- and it's also probably one of the best-funded general contractors. The company today announced that it has raised a $10 million growth financing round led by DFJ, with participation from existing investors Maveron, Madrona Venture Group and Two Sigma Ventures. DFJ's Bill Bryant will join the Pro.com board.
According to Pro.com CEO Matt Williams (who launched the earlier incarnation of the service in 2014 and who was also previously at the helm of Digg.com after that company went through its darkest days), the team realized that while it could make the marketplace work, it couldn't guarantee that the homeowners would have a good experience.
So instead of helping homeowners connect with pros, it now has its own teams in place in all the cities it operates in. These include carpenters, electricians and project managers, for example. If needed, the company also works with a group of pre-screened sub-contractors (who are often specialists in their fields) to help with its projects.
The idea here is that homeowners will get a far smoother experience than is typically the case when it comes to working with general contractors. Pro.com can generally generate quotes much faster than its competitors, for example, thanks to the company's use of technology and its analysis of local prices (and the plan is to introduce same-day/next-day quotes soon). The company also uses its mobile apps to manage its staff, capture updates from its work sites and generate invoices. Williams tells me that the company plans to expand this use of technology to keep track of a given project over time.
"With their end-to-end virtual contractor service, Pro.com is fundamentally changing the consumer experience when engaged on a home improvement project, from first touch on estimation to the last day of inspection and sign off," DFJ's Bill Bryant told me. "No more stress, just a beautiful kitchen delivered on time, on budget!"
Williams didn't want to talk about where exactly Pro.com will launch next, but he noted that the company's focus right now is on the West Coast and that he plans to use the additional funding to launch in at least 10 new cities within the next year or so.
"We have been a company that has been heads-down focused for the last two years after the last round of funding," Williams told me. "That brought us to this product/market fit. We have been growing over the last year with this model and realized this is working -- and working well. Now, we can penetrate a new market quickly." For some states that means getting the right kinds of licenses, of course, which can take a while, but for the most part, activating a new city for Pro.com is mostly about hiring the right people and finding the right sub-contractors (which is relatively easy for the company, thanks to its experience with running local marketplaces for pros).
In its Seattle market, Pro.com currently generates quotes for about three to four percent of all projects and wins a high number of these, according to Williams. The plan, of course, is to increase these numbers over time. Given how fragmented the market for general contractors is, Pro.com has a good chance of establishing itself as a leader in this space, especially given that many of its competitors are solely focused on offering a marketplace.