In this edition of the UpTech Report, host Alexander Ferguson meets with the CEO of Improovy to discuss how he took his painting contracting company and turned it into a tech company. Along the way, he has become an expert in SEO strategy, so he will also be sharing some of his top tips for local SEO and search engine marketing.
Kazimierski has a fascinating Founder’s Journey, and in many ways, Improovy now functions kind of like an Uber for the home improvement industry.
Instead of spending hours figuring out who to hire, how to schedule the work, and coordinating everything, Improovy’s AI system handles the entire process. The consumer simply requests a quote for a painting job, and after agreeing to the terms, the painters show up at the house ready to work — it’s that easy!
Improovy’s algorithms know which contractors are available, who has the specific expertise necessary for the job. Plus, all of the payments and logistics are handled on one simple platform that has an interface designed to improve the lives of both homeowners and contractors.
Andre have been building and scaling successful home service businesses for the past 15 years. Growing up in Chicago, he saw the struggles of contractors and small business owners first-hand.
The majority of hi family were immigrants from Poland that started home service and construction businesses when they came to the US. Working hundred-hour workweeks to make barely enough to cover the bills was the status quo for them.show more
Having spent my entire life in the trades, he knew there is a better way for the industry to operate. Starting with residential painting, Improovy was founded to make the lives of contractors better. In turn, we empower tradespeople to provide the best services of their careers for homeowners.show less
DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!
Andre Kazimierski 0:00
The system for contractors in the United States at least, is set up for them to fail.
Alexander Ferguson 0:12
Welcome to UpTech Report. I’m your host, Alexander Ferguson. This is our Founders Journey series, UpTech Report is sponsored by TeraLeap. Learn how to leverage the power of customer stories at teraleap.io. Today, I’m excited to be joined by my guest, Andre Kazimierski, who’s based in Chicago, Illinois. He’s the founder and CEO at Improovy. Welcome, Andre. Good to have you on.
Andre Kazimierski 0:35
Glad to be here.
Alexander Ferguson 0:36
Now Improovy is a platform that streamlines how homeowners find hire and work with Painting Contractors, or that’s the beginning of where you’re headed. I I’m excited to dive into this. But also it’s hearing your journey like why you built this. Let’s, let’s start with just the product itself. And then we’ll hear more about your journey and the purpose behind it. But in a nutshell, very shortly, 2030 seconds, what is improving? What problem is it solving?
Andre Kazimierski 1:06
Yeah, so improving is a managed marketplace, like you had mentioned that connects painters and homeowners looking for four painters themselves. And what we do is basically, rather than just connect, we price out the job, we match it with the perfect contractor. And we see this as a solution, almost like a one click solution the same way you’d work order an Uber for every way to upgrade your space, we’re starting with the painting side of things, because it’s, it’s what I know most as a contractor and being 15 years in the space, I’ve seen the pain on both ends. So we’re solving that for contractors and enabling them to do the best work of their careers. So
Alexander Ferguson 1:45
I love it. It’s the Uber for for home improvement and starting with painting, that just making it seamless to get that get that done. So the reason for doing this, because he said 15 years, you were your contractor, you actually in there in the service business providing this, you sold your painting company, but let’s go back like what’s where did this all begin?
Andre Kazimierski 2:05
Yeah, so I mean, growing up, my mom came here as a Polish immigrant, Chicago, from Poland, you know, she started a cleaning company, of course, being Polish. And I saw her struggle, as as you know, I mean, I’d help her with a built her first website when I was eight years old. And I just saw a lot of the things that are small business owners, especially first generation immigrants that come to, to the US just struggle and try to make money and sort of, I mean, she was averaging under the minimum wage in the US per year after I guess, you know, kind of broke things down from there. So I, I always felt like there was a better way to do this, both from a home services standpoint, but to make the lives of the small business owner better. So that’s, that’s where the seed of improving was planted when I was growing up. And it was developed as I started a painting company in college, actually, so as a sophomore over at DePaul state and sticking with Chicago, to pay for books and beer. Basically, I started a painting company started knocking on doors and was able to actually launch a painting company in three states with a couple of co founders. And that was my first one. And then I started another one in 2017. And it’s, you know, I can’t help but feel like that seed planted in me as a kid. And then having developed and seen the space firsthand. You know, I, I now saw that there there. Not only was there a better way, but I found it. You know, for my unique perspective, being in the industry, I’m like, there is a better way. Over the past 15 years, I finally found the key. And I think we were getting lucky a lot of times of people ask why now, I think there’s there’s a lot of a lot of positive factors, a lot of changes that people don’t see in the industry that from my perspective, I was able to see that homeowners are now you know, expecting a digital instant experience or more comfortable with quotes back in 2013. You know, 40% of customers were like, okay, yeah, I could do a remote quote, you don’t have to see my house. Now. It’s less than 4% of customers even have an issue with that, right? And then that combined with, you know, Zillow sites, I mean, you can look up any property and do a virtual tour. So it was kind of a perfect storm for us where, you know, I saw that growing up, I’m going to fix this. This is the industry I know, and we’re going to absolutely crush it. That’s exactly what we’ve done so far. Unfortunately, my mom passed away in 2013. And, you know, I always I made her a promise that you know, I keep not only her namesake company going Sofia’s cleaning, which my wife now runs, but um you know, I just imagine a world where if she had to start all over again, being on the improving platform would have made her life better as a small business. Honor and that’s that’s really what it’s all about for me. So
Alexander Ferguson 5:03
there’s there’s a lot to unpack there and and starting with the fact of your focus on the contractor side, because there’s a lot of cool tech startup starting up, and they’re definitely focused on the consumer. And you need to be, I mean to provide the service, but you’re really your passion, your story actually comes from helping the contractors, the small business owner, who it’s difficult to get jobs, it’s difficult to manage it, it’s difficult to keep that stream of income high enough. So you can actually have a good living as a small business owner, usually you’re just scraping by. So you want to help them with this product, as well as help consumers. It’s like this perfect storm of going back though. You were eight years old, when you built your website for your mom. Did she like say, hey, I need a website or your Do you like mom, you need a website?
Andre Kazimierski 5:47
Yeah, yeah, it was I think it was on homestead that kind of some some old, old platform created, you know, did you know did my I think it was Microsoft Paint created the first logo. And then I just saw, you know, I saw a lot of people going on the digital side. And that’s exactly what happened. Coincidentally, enough, her business increased by 40%, the next year, and I didn’t really know what that really meant. But when she told me the story years later, I was just like, wow, I was like, it’s just a small inkling, you know, incremental change, and the digitization of the front end, made that much of a difference. And that kind of planted the seed. Like I said, that kind of grew throughout my entire life. So
Alexander Ferguson 6:31
off the battle, in some ways for small business owner is to get leads get interest, let people know you exist. And I feel like starting at eight, you’re already realizing Yeah, okay, this this internet thing, getting awareness getting out there, I think even mentioned your you realize you are an SEO expert. And I’d like anyone who looks at your websites, and probably websites is talking about a lesson in location based SEO? Is did that really contribute to your early success in the in the different painting companies?
Andre Kazimierski 7:00
Yeah, absolutely. That’s, that’s a skill, I knew I had to solve for that right away. If I was able to solve for that and create an unlimited amount of stream, leads, streams of leads, incoming, then we can nail the rest of the part, you know, make sure that the customer is super happy. Our subcontractors are super happy. But I focused on that for 10 years, you know, you put 10,000 hours into something and you become an expert. And it’s something that like, I don’t know, what what kind of weird thing that grew up with, I don’t know, it’s data analysis or something. But for one thing, that I could do better than anybody on earth, in my, in my experiences is SEO, understanding what people want what they’re searching, taking a small amount of data, taking the inferences and nailing you know, the entire value prop from start to finish. So that’s, that’s really what it comes down to I yeah, I mean, I live and breathe SEO. It’s it’s like, it’s like, you know, people, people have pastimes, that’s my weird pastime. And I’m really good at it. And I like doing it. So that’s that, that that’s part of the most important sort of first step of optimizing for this industry. Because if you can’t find your contractors work, well, you’re kind of dead in the water. They’re right, because they have to keep keep food on the table. So yeah, that was my first That’s my secret skill as an entrepreneur. Yeah.
Alexander Ferguson 8:17
So for those that are curious, is there give some top tips, you know, for small business, others who want to improve their SEO? I mean, what can you share the secret sauce that you have?
Andre Kazimierski 8:29
I think the first question to ask is, what do you what are your customers looking for, and really getting to know your customers, right. And that’s something that I, you know, I actually learned the jobs to be done framework where you do a customer interview, and you really understand that push and pull up why they decide to buy and when they do it. And I learned that through TechStars, I’m the cohort we were in TechStars, Chicago, in 2020. So combining just really, truly understanding who your customers are, and what they’re searching for, is, is half the battle. Everything else, you just look at, you know, stats and data and you see what people are googling and you optimize for it, just make sure that initial value proposition is exactly what they’re looking to do. Because if somebody you know, somebody is moving into a new house or moving out a new house, that’s what what’s important to them. Time, availability, speed, making sure that the project doesn’t, you know, there’s a million things to, to worry about when you’re moving into a house and, but that’s different than somebody who’s painting the exterior just to if they see a bunch of wood rot, and they know there’s going to be water intrusion, there’s going to be damage all of that. And so understanding your customer and why they buy is first and foremost, the key to SEO. And number two is optimizing your website. It’s just technical SEO, blocking and tackling, making sure you have a secure, you know, HTTPS versus HTTP. Make sure that you have a really fast host optimizing for speed because that’s what if you’re You might have the prettiest website ever. And if it doesn’t load in three seconds, then you know, you just lost, you know, 80% of people or something like that some ridiculous number, the bounce rate after after PageSpeed, but it is fundamentals, blocking and tackling, targeting your audience and then optimizing on a technical SEO standpoint, making sure that they’re able to buy that’s it. And, and that’s, that’s, that’s the basis of it, there’s a million other things that I could sort of go into you’ve, you’ve unlocked one of those things where I could talk about it for five days straight and not get sick of it. So but that’s the basis for sure.
Alexander Ferguson 10:36
I can imagine that, as in every area of business, it starts with layers, you get the fundamentals down, and then you kind of build from there.
Andre Kazimierski 10:45
Exactly, I mean, that the same way I approach SEO, that’s how we approach the industry, right. So we look at the basis of this industry, the fundamental the the actual foundation of the house, that is the the home improvement service industry starts with the contractor. And if the contractor is happy, the rest of the house, you know is going to kind of come together and make sure but if your foundation is leaky, or you have a crack in the foundation, like you could sell leads to contractors, like a lot of sites do. But if you don’t solve for them pricing it correctly, making sure that they make money, setting expectations with the customer, ensuring a quality experience on both ends. That’s that’s really what it comes down to. So that framework resides in every single part of our business, not only SEO, or, or the business model itself, but in everything we do. You start with the foundation, just like a contractor would when they’re building a house and everything else comes together, it’s that much easier when you have a good foundation.
Alexander Ferguson 11:42
So let’s let’s let’s look at that for a second. A bit more about this, you talked about this framework, because the growth of of lead generating sites has is there’s a lot is simply put, like and I think of the top ones, I don’t know if they all different industries have Angie’s List, or thumbtack or whatever, and these different places and they can generate leads. But your approach is not to just generate leads for the contractors,
Andre Kazimierski 12:08
we generate a different lifestyle for that. That’s what it is, right? The system for contractors in the United States at least, is set up for them to fail. Within two years, the average contractor goes out of business. I mean, you the painting contractor, you know, being a painter is not hard, you pick up a broad, there’s no barriers to entry, it’s like it’s the same thing of having a car and being able to drive people around, we’re just enabling those contractors to have a better life. And that’s, that’s, that’s really the foundation that I’m talking about. So yeah, we take we not only find them the customer, we pride, we have a pricing algorithm that prices it in 20 minutes, you get a quote, as as a as a homeowner, instantly, you know, versus, you know, think it’s like five to six days or something like that for the average contractor to go out your playing phone tag. And then you have to get three quotes. Hopefully they show up hopefully they have availability, typically these days, they’re booked out for months, right now. So by the end of the process, the homeowners kind of like, what’s the point of this, you know, but with improving we get them what they want make it easy to buy the book with improving, we match them with the perfect contractor. So just imagine a world where you have a guy on call that that perfect guy or gal to fix your space or do do your floors, paint, paint your walls, all of that, you know, instantly so you book with improving, we met we already have that that job, you know, the type of house you have how old the house is type of industry data that we’ve accrued over the last 15 years, right. So we know the contractors that are best at you know, painting trim versus walls or doing drywall repairs or doing exteriors versus interiors and we track the equipment and their job performance to create an instant match we have the perfect contractor for every single way to upgrade your space eventually, but right now we’re focused on painting because well, it’s in the before and afters are beautiful. It’s a great industry to be in and you know, she’s I don’t know how many people Google painters every single month I think it’s towards the the million mark or something like it’s something ridiculous when you add up all the keywords that people are looking for. So it’s, it’s some it’s substantial for us and then we make sure that the contractor gets paid. You know, the average contractor worries about getting paid, we make sure that the once the job is done, they get paid right away. And they know their sort of balance sheet. They’re tracking all their supplies, we’re making sure that they’re profitable, and they’re able to grow their business. 0% of our contractors have gone out of business, their average they their take home pay from year to year increases by 50%. So you know it is a lifestyle type thing and that’s that’s what we’re insuring on the contractor side. So we take that in entire process streamline at front and back end, imagine just picking up a brush and focusing on what you do best to paint.
Alexander Ferguson 15:09
So looking at the tech that you’ve kind of inflated one, you have SEO superpower, so you’re able to get the leads in the front end. But then you’ve got the the the price, this the pricing, instant, quote, ability, and then the, the pricing algorithm and then devoted to match the matching algorithm. Let’s talk about the pricing for a moment. I mean, has there been situations where it wasn’t priced properly, but what happens was the contractor said, Whoa, you just priced this at, I don’t know, $200, this should be 5008. How have you resolve that.
Andre Kazimierski 15:42
And so that’s that one of the one of the sides of the business that’s hardest is for contractors is setting the right expectations, making sure that you have every single point, every single little layer there in the quote, that, hey, if you’re changing, you’re adding an extra color, you already know that it’s going to cost a little bit more. And the reason it costs a little bit more is because the contractor has to reload their sprayer, if they’re doing, you know, a center island and a kitchen and you’re doing like a darker color, darker blue, or navy with white cabinets versus all white cabinets. And, you know, that’s a different, you know, just explaining that, but we’re not only a pricing engine, we’re an expectation engine. And that’s, that’s something that that a lot of people miss in the margins is so important to ask the right questions know when to ask them, and, and set that expectation with the homeowner. So that that job goes well, we can tell with a, you know, 80% 86% accuracy, if that job is gonna go well, based on three or four factors that we find, you know, interaction with the homeowner, so. So the homeowner expectations is something that that is incredibly important. from a pricing perspective, we want to build on our technology, so that it’s that it’s not only faster, but more accurate. Whenever there is a change in price, it hurts the contractor relationship, it hurts the customer relationship, right. So that’s something that we’re actively optimizing for, and building the next level of technology, the next version of our technology to be better. So not only being a pricing algorithm, but an expectation engine, an engine for delight is what we call it internally. But you know, that’s, that’s, that’s the meat and potatoes of of that. So yeah.
Alexander Ferguson 17:25
is a big piece. And I know, as a consumer like I want I want something right away. And I want to know it’s going to be accurate. And as contractors, it does take time to have to quote things. So you’re trying to help both people, but you need to make sure the accuracy is still the question. And we’re still one loves AI and algorithms make my life simpler, but the trust, we’re getting closer, and it sounds like people do trust it now. It’s just continuing to hone it.
Andre Kazimierski 17:50
Precisely. Precisely. Yeah. I mean, we’ve we’ve just we have this job site data for from the decades that I’ve been in the industry. And really, it’s comes down to our team and innovating within the industry. Every single person on our team has run a painting business, even even our engineer has run a million dollar painting company. And that’s something of a secret sauce that we have. Is that enough to know. Yeah, exactly. Through the conversations we have are probably the most boring from the outside looking in. We were talking about like job site data and setting expectations and trying this way instead of that. But we see that handoff between the homeowner and contractor that API missing API, you know, that connects homeowners and manages the contractor. So that’s that’s where our sweet spot comes in, where we’re that missing API that makes sure everybody’s happy. And yeah, so
Alexander Ferguson 18:43
yeah. Now, coming from being a service provider, running your own painting company for years, 15 years, then you said Dell becoming a technology company. That transition? I mean, what was it a simple like, oh, yeah, that this this makes sense. I’m still serving people just in a new way, or was it a quite a big shift for you?
Andre Kazimierski 19:10
I think I think it’s a big shift for anybody making that transition, right? It’s like it’s, it’s instead of not only growing but optimized, like it’s almost like you’re building a Ferrari while going 100 miles an hour, right? You’re literally building take, you know, putting in the doors, all that while your foot is on the pedal ready to go. So that that was a transition that was a little bit a little bit different for me to get used to. Certainly, you know, financial reporting all of that, you know, that’s I mean, that that’s something that it’s completely different for a tech company and projections and all that so yeah, that Ferrari my, my foot is gets weary at times going 100 miles an hour, but it is it’s it’s a change of we’re not in this business to necessarily make money or or make a ton of money like that’s the business owner and you’ll be proud stay profitable, have a company that we want to change an industry. And, and that’s, that’s where all of our recruiting everything that we do every single step or every interaction we have starts with, hey, we want to make the lives of contractors better, we believe there’s a better way because of our industry experience. And just being at the right place at the right time, now is the time to do it. And we’re doing it with the best team ever. So um, that’s, that’s, it’s a different change, recruiting is a lot easier, I can tell you that. Being a painter, and finding incredible people to work with, and that’s something if we’re talking about a secret sauce is that it’s our team are everything from our, our COO Carr, who was actually an associate with the Tech Stars class, he hopped on board, he’s, he’s just he makes everybody around him 10 times better. It’s incredible. And our sales people are project managers, it’s just everybody coming together. And understanding this isn’t a one or two year thing. This is a industry changing decade’s worth, you know, Legacy leaving type company, as opposed to, you know, just putting food on the table, or you know, or paying your bills. So completely different shift. I’m still getting used to it. But it is a hell of a lot more fun, I can tell you that this is exactly what I’m here to do on this earth. And that’s I get I get, you know, updates from like Google Photos of like, you know, five years ago, this is what you did this day. And I’m like, on a job site applying test patches. And I’m like, you know, I gotta remember that. I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to do, you know, and hopefully making my mom proud. So
Alexander Ferguson 21:43
you how big is the team today?
Andre Kazimierski 21:47
We just hired our new production coordinator. So we’re at seven
Alexander Ferguson 21:53
being being able to keep that the train going faster and faster, faster with with the team is, I mean, you’re familiar with running teams, large teams, but on the tech side, I’m imagine as we just talked about a little bit different. Just, you’re actually touching a lot more people. Yeah.
Andre Kazimierski 22:10
Precisely. Yeah, I think it’s 7am. And the hiring, we’re hiring for future growth, where a normal company would hire when they need the like, we’re hiring in anticipation of a 3x year again, because we tripled our revenue from 2020 to 2021. We want to keep doing that expand into five different markets into hiring now, for the rush, that’s going to happen in March and April in this industry, because there’s a little bit of seasonality. And is just a different perspective. But our like I said, our team makes sure that I stay on track. I mean, that’s, that’s when you put great people around you and put eight players. And it’s just incredible how fast you can go with that Ferrari. So
Alexander Ferguson 22:54
building a, an API marketplace and connecting these two different sides. I mean, that is a specific type of business and technology. The challenges for getting either side is a little bit different. I imagine that consumers is one way, I believe that’s probably where your SEO superpowers comes in. Are you using your SEO superpowers for the contractor side as well? Or is that the sales side? Like how have you solved that challenge?
Andre Kazimierski 23:18
I think there’s there’s three ways where we’re getting contractors on our platform number one, yes, SEO and just sort of the traditional metric of, you know, painting jobs near me, guess what, you know, Craigslist, Chicago, we’re targeting the things that they’re they’re looking for when they need more work. That’s number one. Number two is channel partnerships. So we partnered with Sherwin Williams, one of the biggest painting companies in the world. And now they’re, we’re taking their data and they’re optimizing for, okay, we know this contractor needs work, they stopped spending on their account, improve, he fills that gap. And so we’re using our channel partnerships to fill in the gaps into new locations. So we’re actually able to source our contractors a list of 30 to 40 qualified, fully vetted, insured, incredible contractors that we know are going to play well within our system and succeed before we even launch a market. And that’s that’s, that’s number two is to channel partnerships. And number three is, well, we’re seeing a lot of painters talk painters talk about their experience at the paint store. They love talking about that when somebody mentions in preview. So we have inbound leads coming in that, you know, we have a waitlist of 160. Now for contractors, we have 30 active contractors we have every single day or every single week we see an influx of people wanting to work with improving. So that’s our job to keep that going. So keep that
Alexander Ferguson 24:45
go. Yeah, I mentioned it at some point you do reach a max of contractors in a certain area where it just doesn’t make sense to have any more assuming they’re all performing. Is that how you have it like a certain set of limits on per industry?
Andre Kazimierski 24:57
Yeah, well we look at it’s like surge pricing a lot of it right? So we use the offseason when they’re a little bit less busy to find really, really good contractors so that once the busy season comes up, and this is the seasonality aspect, a lot of people are like, you know, is this hurting your business? Actually, we use it to our advantage. The reason the industry is the way it is, is because the contractor runs out of work after the busy season, October November hits, they have to fire all their people, the average contractor has 1.4 workers, including themselves. So point for me is seasonality plays a part. So they have to lay off their workforce and start all over, right. And so where we find we find that that that entry point right there when they need us most. And then we feed them jobs and making sure that they’re they have a profitable year, loyalty grows and the word spreads. And that’s something from a long term perspective, our contractor base and our network is really what’s going to take us to to the next level and create that mode, where, you know, we’re able to take over this fragmented industry, there’s $260,000, or 260 Different Painting Contractors in the US. And we’re taking all the single operator, the single operators are 86% of those. We’re taking them and making sure that they have a better life. And they’re thanking us by staying loyal and, and finding other people for us. So yeah,
Alexander Ferguson 26:24
the the bigger painting companies, they have something to worry about now. And you, you know,
Andre Kazimierski 26:29
I maybe there’s not, there’s not a ton of them. Right? So it’s highly fragmented market with what does what does that mean, there’s a lot of players, there’s not a single company that’s taken over 5% of market share. And they operate in the franchise model, which is a little bit different than our model, right. We’re a fully remote model, we have virtual offices and locations. And we’re able to do this completely remotely, without having to go to the house until we break out the pain, which our contractors take care of and do a great job. So yeah, I think we’re fortunate to be an industry that’s just kind of operated in the old way, stuck stuck in the old way. Bad NPS giant $39 billion industry that nobody has solved anything for other than selling leads to contractors, which I bought leads from from these sites. I was pissed after overcharged me because I launched two different locations with my other company, and they kept charging and charging, customer service, all that stuff. It’s like dealing with Comcast, but you know, your business is on the line. You know,
Alexander Ferguson 27:35
it. See there’s there there’s there’s a lot of different things that you kind of mentioned very early on in our interview of it’s just coming together, one consumers COVID Other reasons are more ready to just buy things online without seeing it just give me a quote. And their their comfort level is is there. And the the comfort level with technology to assume whatever you’re presenting me is accurate, and I can trust it. And then from the supply side of contractors, the gig economy, there’s there’s a lot of buzzwords one could use is growing. It’s hard for them to make a job or to make a living. And so I find it interesting that you’re you’re connecting these two pieces, but the biggest thing is people want, I feel like they want good work. I mean, there’s a lot of solutions out there to show you, anybody or anyone. It’s we don’t need more options. We need just the right option. That’s what I feel like as a consumer, I don’t care about I want less options. I just want the one I want the right one right now.
Andre Kazimierski 28:36
Exactly. That’s it. And that’s that’s something that hasn’t existed in this industry, and that you look at that entire home and home services industry or home improvement industry at 500 billion. You know, there’s a reason people DIY, it’s because it’s harder to find a good contractor than it is to do do it yourself. What if it wasn’t? And that’s where it really comes in?
Alexander Ferguson 28:57
Are you are you guys gonna look into app based mentalities? Is it completely web based right now?
Andre Kazimierski 29:02
Yeah, it’s completely web based for us. We want to take all the data on a on a higher level and and do this, you know, where we’re able to, once we expand geographically, we’re able to not only hit the the consumers who need us when they need us, but also you know, the next iteration is you know, navigation that you pick up your phone you you know, you click on the improve the app and you have your walls painted, you have your floors done, you have the price you know exactly when and you could start within 48 hours. And that’s something that that still doesn’t exist. It’s crazy to me that doesn’t exist but you know, that’s me
Alexander Ferguson 29:44
I read it. I read somewhere story about how Uber got started was the names not coming to me at the moment but was sitting on a waiting for a taxi at an airport and was like why can’t I know what taxis are available right now. Like I want to know what’s available. just be able to book it. And that’s how it started. And I feel like you’re in a similar boat here. Like, why can’t consumer just say I wanna, I want a painter right now, in my spot, I want all the costs, I want to book them. I don’t care who they are, I just want to do good job, and I want to get them. And I feel like you’re in a similar similar spot.
Andre Kazimierski 30:16
That’s, that’s the frustration of finding contractors. You’re right on. Exactly. And being from the industry, I’ve seen on both ends, just like, why doesn’t this exist, it needs to exist. So and so we made it happen. And that’s, you know, we’re gonna get bigger and better from there and later on new services, but we look at, okay, we’re going to nail painting, we’re going to absolutely crush this industry in the best way possible, and then expand to every way to upgrade your space. Because we’ve already built that trust, we’ve already painted your house, so that when you’re ready to do your roof, siding, you know, gutters, floors, all of that first thing of approving Exactly, exactly,
Alexander Ferguson 31:00
you want to own the space. And now I can imagine with this type of API, there’s probably potential for integrating with other third parties that already have the consumers and then you can dig into it, have you started exploring that yet or not.
Andre Kazimierski 31:14
And there’s, there’s a lot of opportunities in partnering with with other startups that are in the design space, that I just really love working with, and that I’ve used in the past. And that’s something that we’re actively exploring. And then at scale, we also see partnering with, you know, major brands that need, you know, a T Mobile store that needs to has 1300 locations, or I don’t know what to do, I think they changed their name, but has 1300 locations all across the Midwest, there’s no painter that has, you know, a location in Milwaukee in Chicago. So once we have that geographic expansion, we’ll be able to unlock that commercial opportunity where we’re not competing with anybody else. It’s just us. And and we’ve optimized, we were able to keep these contractors busier than ever, they they repay us by keep they keep doing great work. And yeah, so that’s, that’s that’s part of it, too. You know, you’re that crystal ball, you’re seeing the same thing I am. So absolutely.
Alexander Ferguson 32:15
Now I’m curious for for this role. What does it look like? Cuz I know you’re just in a couple markets right now. I mean, markets.
Andre Kazimierski 32:22
Yeah. So we’re in Chicago, and then St. Louis as part of our Chicago market. And then we started expanding in the Midwest, we did a soft launch in Arizona as well, because what we want to start doing is layering. The seasonality exists. So we want to layer on sunbelt states. So Texas, Texas, you know, Austin, Dallas, all of that. So that, that we’re able to taper off that seasonality from a business model perspective. And then, you know, our home base of the Midwest, we want to take over the entire Midwest, of course, so we’re looking towards Milwaukee we’re looking towards we’ve already pre launched Ann Arbor, I think we’re ranking number one Fran Arbor painters right now. So we, that’s kind of the first step and, and yeah, that’s how we’re thinking of it. So maybe
Alexander Ferguson 33:08
most state at a time or or city by city or
Andre Kazimierski 33:11
major metros. So I’m in Ann Arbor, we chose our sorry, in the Detroit area, we started with Ann Arbor specifically, because well, there’s a lot of moving move outs, there’s the the home values are within, hey, you’re gonna pay $4,000 for a paint job, you know, you have I mean, that’s a substantial job, right. And again, that, you know, your ROI is through the roof when you get your house painted. But nonetheless, it’s you know, a lot of people have a lot of equity in their homes in certain areas. And then we look for kind of a millennial demographic, this new generation of homeowners are looking for speed really appreciate a valid availability and, and want to trust that it’s going to be done well without them having to, you know, cost an arm and a leg to find a contractor. So, that’s, that’s what we we start targeting those major metros suburbs. Like we have neighbor, a Naperville location, we have Chicago location, like in the heart of Chicago as well. But we’re seeing two different demographics. And we’re attacking it from the outside in. So we’re going okay, we’re going to find the neighborhoods that we’re going to nail this in, absolutely be able to help the most people in the least amount of time and then expand from there into into other Detroit suburbs. So that’s how we’re, that’s how we’re looking at expansion. Yep.
Alexander Ferguson 34:28
How long does it take for you to rank in one of these places? They just start to build it up,
Andre Kazimierski 34:33
man was three and a half weeks. That’s it?
Alexander Ferguson 34:38
Yeah. It just turn it on. You’re like, alright, boom, that now we’re showing up. Our new
Andre Kazimierski 34:43
market playbook works. We’ve done it over and over again. And I see these other my other companies there, they’re having monster years, and I haven’t touched the website and two, three years, you know, so I know it works. And it’s crazy. It’s, it’s, that’s, that’s what it’s about. So
Alexander Ferguson 35:03
I know it’s gonna come back to it. But it’s like It’s Seo not changed that much then like when you when you started doing it for your first company, or has it really changed
Andre Kazimierski 35:12
you, it’s a lot like skating to the puck, right? So you build, you know, as a hockey player, you have to skate to the puck, to get an opportunity. So you have to future every single day as a future proofing plan. So I’m thinking for years ahead of, you know, four years ahead of time, what’s the Google algorithm? Where’s it heading? How are they going to integrate, you know, kind of solve for helping people find the right information at the right time. And so, thinking through that future proofing, it is part of that SEO secret sauce, right? It’s not only about being really good at keywords, or word stuffing, or anything like that, it’s thinking, three years ahead of time, why? What is this gonna look like? And how can I start optimizing for now? And that’s, that’s exactly how we built this company. So
Alexander Ferguson 36:03
for other service providers, and lot of industries or content creators, can you can you can you share what you think is three to 534 years out from now? Like, what are the what are you preparing for right now, if you’re willing to share?
Andre Kazimierski 36:16
Well, I mean, I think it’s, it’s, um, you know, I’d love to say voice, you know, Voice Search, and all these these other buzzwords that people kind of throw around. But, you know, I think where it’s heading is, well, the more the better user experience you have, the better you’re able to solve for that specific issue, and generate a delightful experience you’re getting, you’re gonna get rewarded for that. So it’s more than just bounce rates, or how many click throughs you get, or, you know, if they hop back on the front page and go to competitors, or whatever. It’s more than that. It’s not only optimizing site speed, and all the basics of load, quickly loading site with a good CTA that’s optimized for your target audience. Great. That’s awesome. But not only that, but you have to take them through that the entire experience. And so now Google is out. We’re out ranking sites like Angie’s List, or Yelp, and all those, we still use those platforms to source clients. Don’t get me wrong. However, when you when you’re more equipped, and you’re better at solving the final problem that somebody looking for a painter, Google is going to reward you. And so that’s that’s three years looking ahead is not only optimizing on the front end, but the entire process. That’s how you win in the future. Right?
Alexander Ferguson 37:37
So that’s, that’s fast. It’s like you’re not even paying attention to like, what are they doing right now have specific crawling robots and looking at here’s like, you know, where they’re trying to go have user experience, like, well, let’s just be there, let’s just have the best user experience.
Andre Kazimierski 37:52
That’s it. And when it comes to upgrading your home or painting your house, the user experience comes down to paint, you know, everything from paint colors, and making sure that we’re able to give them the right selection at the right time connect them we have, every single job includes a free virtual paint color consultation from a Sherwin Williams designer, you know, these are the small things that go a long way for somebody who’s trying to try to pick a color for their living room or their their bathroom that they want it to be a Zen spa like type. So I think we have to take that information make, make sure that experience is easy, and the other 100 different touchpoints that ensures that delightful experience, were rewarded on the back end with a five star review. But more so you know, people now trust Google, and then they’ll hop back onto Google for their next project, and so on and so forth. And eventually, they’ll just hop on, on improving but nonetheless, we’re gonna use we’re gonna take the path of least resistance right now. And, you know, Google’s got a good thing going so
Alexander Ferguson 38:52
are you buying like pay per click it and he said Angeles and other places in addition to SEO, you laying them layering on top.
Andre Kazimierski 38:59
So 84% of our customers came from organic SEO. So we did I think 1.2 8 million this year, in GMV. And yeah, at like 84 85% of our customers came from organic. As we expand, we see PPC and partnering with sites like Angie’s List or Angie’s now I guess is the name. Yeah, all of that and channel partners like sure, Williams as well, to start sourcing great leads faster, so that we’re able to launch that market faster and sort of layer that on so that’s, you know, we’re actually planning a fundraise this quarter. And one of the major spending you know, is to optimize or is to develop that you know, sort of engine that PPC engine and take advantage of not only being number one on search results for organic and on the local three pack which is like the map pack that you know your local companies that show up but being number one on on search, I mean We’re gonna be able to take 60% of people googling van, you know, so that’s the next step.
Alexander Ferguson 40:06
I, I feel like I listened to an interview and founder of Hyak. A, and I think they just pour it in to pay per click, and they were just like losing money. But the idea is it okay, as long as we can see that slowly, they just start typing in kayak.com not coming across the ads. And they did they actually got to it that in the end, but I don’t think they use any they focus on any SEO. So is that your combined focus on layering on top to be able to get that growth? And eventually they’ll just not think improving? Instead of Google it?
Andre Kazimierski 40:38
That’s that’s what we’re seeing on a very micro level now. But that’s that crystal ball. We’re sharing the same vision. So absolutely.
Alexander Ferguson 40:47
Are you doing anything on the operation side as well, like helping with logistics and coordination? So after the sales happened, and you found the the contractor, it’s a right, here you go? Are you doing anything after that point? Helping with the project?
Andre Kazimierski 41:00
Yeah, absolutely. So paint colors, the first day of the project is like that critical part of the first day, I’m showing up on time, we’re tracking, you know how far they are, from the location. And we’re setting that expectation with the client, making sure that they’re, they’re happy, not only on, you know, when we booked the job through, you know, through the quote, but making sure that they’re happy day one through day three, day four, day five, so there’s constant check ins, and then there’s a closeout process, where we make sure that that everyone’s happy before we finish up, so yeah, no, it’s, it’s the entire experience is the full service type type stack
Alexander Ferguson 41:38
Exactly. On the consumer. And then from the contractor side, are they did they see like their upcoming gigs? And do they manage it through that the the
Andre Kazimierski 41:46
software as well. And so that’s the next step of our data set. Another reason we’re fundraising is to maximize that contractor experience, because not only if they’re making money, but they know they’re making money, you know, are making more money on the app. That’s, that’s just as important. So that’s, that’s one of the other parts that we’re focusing on building out. We have incredible full stack engineer has already thought through the process and thought through how that’s going to look. And we’re going to start testing out exactly how to even make make the contractors life even even that much, that much better, so that they’re able to grow their business not only thrive, but grow. And that’s that’s the next up where they’re able to track everything. And we know those little points were ensure that not only that their their crews are healthy and the customers happy, but their business is healthy at the end. They know what they’re up against the next month, you know, so that’s, that’s, I think that’s a huge opportunity. If we can now that we can know this industry.
Alexander Ferguson 42:46
I, I see your an interesting combination of, of a powerful story from where you came from your mission of kind of empowering and helping contractors that small business owner, but that also the the tech smarts with SEO and realizing this combination, is this coming together of the perfect storm of consumers and contractors all in the right place. It’s like I feel like the the beginnings of a very exciting, exciting things. I’m curious, let’s end on this. If you make if you could make a tech prediction of the home improvement space, five years from now? What’s it going to look like?
Andre Kazimierski 43:28
It’s great question. In five years, I believe that improving is going to be the backbone of this industry. I believe that every single time you need a contractor way to upgrade your space, I believe that we’re going to remove the DIY factor, right, that’s just not an option if we make it that easy, but I believe that there’s going to be one stop solution for every, every single way to upgrade your space. That’s where it’s heading. And we’re, we’re lucky enough to have the right perspective to skate to the puck, so to speak, right? And so that’s, if we don’t do it, somebody Well, we’re ahead of the game, I you know, but when it comes down to it, like it’s up to us to take this opportunity, but without under without losing the focus on the contractor, that’s the thing, what’s going to kill us is if we drop the ball in making their lives better. And you know, that foundation of the house, like you could build a pretty roof, you could put in the most expensive Windows ever. But if that thing is at the foundation, that’s cracking and it’s ready to fall apart, you’re not going to build, it’s gonna, it’s not gonna look pretty for very long. So that’s how we look at it, somebody is going to do it, we’re in the best position, you know, from our perspective that we could do it. But that’s what consumers want. You know, I mean, if you can order a pair of slacks and get it within, you know, 48 hours or 24 hours, why can’t you find, you know, why can’t you just transform your space within 48 hours, you know, so that’s, that’s where I think it’s heading so on. Hopefully we’ll, we’ll be able to not only nail it, but be the one stop solution for all that.
Alexander Ferguson 45:05
So I feel like with it there, there’s big companies out there with Amazon, you know, they have the reach, they have the the viewership, and they’ve dabbled in home consumer solutions of having some kind of install your TV or the things. But what they don’t have is the focus on the supplier side. And there’s tons of stories around that they don’t really care about, where, who’s who they’re paying, as far as book providers or whatever, it’s the consumer that matters. But if you want a good job, you have to have a good contractor. So it’s, I’m curious, though, if could a big company come in and just say we’ll just dominate it? Can you have the supply side as a is a strong commitment. So I think you definitely have a one up on that one.
Andre Kazimierski 45:51
That’s that’s the moat that we know long term, if we win, when we nail the supply side, across the nation, that we are the an option for a better life for them. That’s, that’s when we succeed. And that’s when we’re nobody else can come in. And you know, it’s just, it’s game over after that. That’s how we look at it. So that’s why we’re so focused on and listen, like, if my mom was alive today, her life would be better with improving and I that’s, that’s all I could ask for. So we’re just gonna keep nailing that until we get big enough to to get to a point where we’re able to help more contractors and, and homeowners, so
Alexander Ferguson 46:29
I love it. I love it. Thank you so much for sharing the journey that you’ve been on and an exciting future. For those that want to learn more you can go over toImproovy.com That’s two O’s Improovy.
Andre Kazimierski 46:41
And you know where the name comes from Alex, where’s it come from? Groovy and home improvement together. So it’s home improvement made groovy was unreal word ever. I love that word. We just combined it found. Thank God that we could find the URL or
Alexander Ferguson 46:59
the URL. Did you have to pay a lot for it?
Andre Kazimierski 47:02
Alexander Ferguson 47:04
That’s awesome. Groovy home improvement. Improving. It works, man. Solid spin on that. Thanks again for joining us. Andre is great to have you on man.
Andre Kazimierski 47:13
Hey, appreciate it. Thanks so much.
Alexander Ferguson 47:16
And we’ll see you on the next episode of UpTech Report. Be sure to subscribe like to be able to get our next episode we’ll see you. Have you seen a company using AI machine learning or other technology to transform the way we live work and do business? Go to UpTech report.com and let us know