There's a new billion-dollar unicorn, and it wants to help you find a plumber

Marco ZappacostaYouTube/Startup GrindThumbtack CEO Marco Zappacosta.

Thumbtack, a platform that matches professionals like personal trainers or electricians with potential customers, has just raised $US125 million (£82.3 million).

This new investment has pushed the company’s valuation up to $US1.3 billion (£856 million), from just $US750 million (£494 million) last year, the company wrote in a blog post.

To date, Thumbtack has raised $US273.2 million (£179.9 million) in funding, a company spokesperson told Forbes. It handles job listings and marketing for people providing local services, and collects the interested customers.

Then, the electrician or yoga instructor that’s looking for customers can pay Thumbtack a fee to contact the customers and send them a quote. After making contact with the customer through Thumbtack, professionals don’t have to use the platform to contact existing customers, but can go back to it to find new ones.

Thumbtack has 200,000 active professionals on the platform. It isn’t disclosing exact revenues right now, but says it is unprofitable.

This new funding round was led by Scottish money management Baille Glifford, and previous investors including Tiger Global, Google Capital and Sequoia Capital also took part. Sequoia’s Bryan Schreier told the New York Times [The New York Times] that the company is “looking at an unusually large investment opportunity” because it “is already delivering more than [$US1 billion worth of business] to independent professionals, yet they’re still only scratching the surface of the $US500 billion plus local services market.”

That’s a sentiment echoed by the company itself, which values the local services market in the US alone at around $US750 billion (£494 billion).

Things have changed since CEO and cofounder Marco Zappacosta launched the company in 2009.

“When we attempted to raise our Series A in Fall of 2011, we got rejected — not once, not twice, but 42 times!” Zappacosta writes in the company’s blog.

Now, it sees itself as “more like a dating service than a directory,” with more paying professionals on its site than both Angie’s List and Yelp combined.

“We’re matching two very unique sets of requirements: aligning the specific needs of one individual with the skills and availability of another. There are so many stipulations: location, timing, materials, budget, preferences, and more.”

Fixing that, Zappacosta writes, is a “hell of a challenge.”

Thumbtack plans to use the new funding to build customer retention tools for small business owners — invoice, payment, scheduling and customer management services — to keep them coming back to the platform.

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