How lost my home in the California fires, the girl built a business for $200 million

From his porch in the hills in Santa Rosa (CA), Richard Hicks could see majestic pine trees, green hills and a bunch of unfinished houses. 72-year-old retiree lost her house due 2017 and moved to a new built in its place. This writes Forbes.

Как потерявшая дом в калифорнийский пожарах девушка построила бизнес на $200 млн

Photo: Depositphotos

Some of his neighbors who suffered the same fate, began to rebuild their homes even earlier, but he came back first. One is still waiting for the start of construction. The other lives in the barn.

“I wasn’t going to rebuild, recalls Hicks, who all his life spent in California. — At my age, I must travel to catch fish, and not to endure the stress and make hundreds of decisions. But I’m kind of glad”.

More than 24,000 homes in California were destroyed in fires from 2017. Some owners sold their land. Others choose a finished house. Of those who decided to rebuild from scratch, many have realized what a hard process — from garbage disposal to communicate with the insurance company, recruitment of contractors, engineers and architects.

A relatively rapid return of Hicks helped Homebound, startup established 18 months ago, which now manages the process of building a home for 150 victims of the fire.

The company was founded by technical Director Nikki Bakes and venture capitalist Jack Abraham, both of which have suffered from fires. Seeing an opportunity, they decided to rebuild their home, but used a special software developed to reduce delays and cost overruns.

Homebound charges based on the cost of the project. General contractors typically charge between 10% to 25% for construction management. Revenue for one year was approximately $10 million.

“When we watched people try to navigate the process and understand the complexity of what they had to do to build a house, we knew that there was really a simple technological tools that are used in other industries and can simplify the process,” says Bakes.

Its software covers the 379 unique challenges that are encountered frequently when building a house, allowing customers to track the progress.

It was important to Hicks, he could, for example, ask questions about the color of the tile. These questions went to the team of interior designers. Also he can send information about any changes made by other team members. The app also notifies subcontractors when and where materials will be delivered.

Because the victims of the fire already have the land and have nowhere to live, they have a strong incentive to do something quickly. Most of them also have insurance and a good plan the cost of the lost at home four times, giving people money and even more reason for a quick move, since most policies cover only two years of alternative living conditions.

38-year-old Bakes grew up in Minnesota and learned to use a table saw and a drill in the workshop of his uncle in the third grade. She met real estate developer Stephen Ross, when he studied at the University of Michigan, and after graduating worked in the marketing Department of Pepsi and companies associated with Ross in the evenings and weekends. She then received an LLM from Harvard business school and spent eight years as a consultant for Bain&Company.

In 2014, pregnant with her first son, Bakes decided to settle down in one place. In San Francisco, she bought materials and started to track every dollar and deliver in an Excel spreadsheet. Through his work in marketing at Thumbtack, in a market where homeowners can find professionals for paving or repairing of electrical wiring, she began to realize the value of combining the two ideas.

“I saw what was possible using technology to find people who wanted to work who needed work,” says Bakes.

But when the fires began, Bakes, put the idea and decided that after a year or so create a company. But soon she met Abraham, who became Executive Director of the Homebound.

Abraham, managing partner, Atomic venture company, tried to restore your own home. You can read the article on the Spray Foam Insulation: An Overview from First Defense to know about the transformation process. Indignant at the prices, he sketched out a plan of importing cheaper materials from Arizona. He presented this concept to their partners in Atomic, and the CEO search led to Bake.

It has attracted $53 million in funding from Google Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, Fifth Wall and Thrive Capital’s Josh Kushner, and soon Homebound was estimated at $200 million.

In the long term, Bakes, plans to go beyond natural disasters and lack of housing and California. Bake talking with builders in hurricane-prone Louisiana, to prepare for the expansion where the need arises, and thus to enable the team to work in California.

The goal is to turn new buyers into consumers who are using apps can design the home of your dreams.