Former Digg CEO, Andreessen Horowitz entrepreneur in residence, and long-time Amazon employee Matt Williams put together an ex-Amazon dream-team to take the pain out of home projects.
His startup, Pro.com, just raised $US3.5 million to give people easy-access to price estimates and scheduling information for professionals.
Williams joined Amazon way back in 1999, when the e-commerce giant bought his startup, LiveBid, to help boost its auction features. Amazon Auctions never took off (even though Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos loved it), but Williams stayed at the the company for nearly 12 years, working in various roles and even doing a stint shadowing CEO Jeff Bezos.
While he was at Amazon, he started thinking how the company could expand beyond products and into local services. Those musings ended up being the inspiration for Pro.com.
He told Business Insider that over half of Pro’s 30-person team has worked at Amazon at some point. Heidi Robinson, Pro’s VP of product, was the earliest Amazon Fresh team member and also ran Kindle distribution for retail. Raji Subramanian, its VP of engineering, spent a significant portion of her career with Amazon’s Marketplace group.
The idea of Pro is relatively simple.
If you have a home improvement project you need to tackle, head to Pro.com for a price estimate — you can get a quote, tailored to your zip code, for up to five projects at a time. You’ll then be able to find a vetted professional and even schedule an appointment directly from the site. Pro.com will take about a 10% commission from that contractor, but the site is absolutely free for users.
At this point, the company has only launched the full scheduling product in Seattle, but plans to expand its reach thanks to the $US3.5 million round of funding that it just raised from Madrona Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Bezos Expeditions (Jeff Bezos personal venture capital firm), and others. Right now, users all across the U.S. can still use the site to get a price estimate, though.
Williams said that when he and his team first started working on Pro, the price estimate feature was more of an after-thought, and the focus was on getting connected to professionals and scheduling appointments. But the team realised that customers’ heads were turning more at the pricing information than anything else.
“A lot of people have home projects they want to work on that will sit on the sidelines for months, or even years, because they don’t want to pick up the phone,” Williams says. “They don’t want to get on the phone and call up a pro, or multiple pros, because there’s too much friction in that process to just get the cost.”
Although Williams says that Pro is starting with connecting people with home improvement professionals, he sees the service expanding to other verticals down the line.
“Going back to my Amazon roots, it’s really all about what the customer looking for,” Williams says.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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