How One Startup Quadrupled Its Size In 9 Months
In the nine months since its launch, Porch has increased its number of employees from 24 to 140. That's more than a 500 percent increase in less than a year.
The Home Improvement Network
Porch calls itself the home improvement network. It combines a database of more than 1.5 million home improvement professionals with customer reviews and work history. Porch cannot only tell homeowners which professionals their neighbors have used and recommended, but also view photos of past work and average pricing.
It's similar to Angie's List, except that it's free for homeowners and has more than just word-of-mouth referrals of professionals.
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CEO Matt Ehrlichman is a serial entrepreneur. He started his first business at age 14, and launched his first tech startup as a sophomore at Stanford University.
After the initial public offering of the last company he worked at, Active Network (NYSE: ACTV), Ehrlichman said he decided that he wanted to build a company that would solve a real problem. He found that problem in the midst of building a home for his family.
What Ehrlichman discovered was that there wasn't a website that had collected home improvement inspiration, project data and word-of-mouth referrals all in one place. There were plenty of websites with some of that information, but no single, one-stop destination for all the information homeowners need. Thus, out of Ehrlichman's own necessity, Porch was born.
The Product of Good People
The main driver of Porch's success is great people, according to Ehrlichman. He said it's the most amazing team and culture he's ever been a part of. A sign on the front wall at Porch pretty much sums it up: “No jerks, no egos, no bureaucracy.”
“We like to keep our heads down, avoid the waste and politics that seeps into most companies, and just execute,” said Ehrlichman.
Everyone at Porch believes in getting their hands dirty, he said. Ehrlichman delves into the nitty-gritty details with his team on a daily basis. Everyone at Porch is “in,” and that's what Ehrlichman says creates a spirit where people are willing to do whatever it takes.
Porch expects a lot out of its team. Incredible “intellectual horsepower” is just one quality that is required to fit in, Ehrlichman said, along with focus, speed, risk-taking and working well with little process and formality. Ehrlichman is incredibly proud of his team, and calls them “truly top notch.”
Build It, And They Will Come
The key to acquiring such a great team and culture is to build a great company, Ehrlichman said.
“People want to work at a place where they can get a lot done and change the world,” he said.
But the biggest success factor is also Porch's biggest challenge. With such rapid growth in the number of employees, it can be difficult to maintain a great culture.
“We try to have a culture of candidness and transparency,” said Ehrlichman. “So, if someone isn't doing well enough, we try to communicate that clearly.”
Although far from being perfect at this just yet, he said Porch believes everyone should know where they stand.
Teamwork on a Larger Scale
Porch is also strengthening its presence through partnerships. One with Lowe's (NYSE: LOW) lets Porch serve as an in-store resource to connect customers with home improvement professionals. When a customer is searching for a painter or landscaper, Lowe's employees use the Porch database to find them one.
Another agreement gives Realtor.com the first to market with the Porch Home & Neighborhood Report, which uses Porch data to create a home and project history (sort of like a Carfax for a home). The report also includes a summary of home improvement projects completed in the neighborhood and other neighborhood statistics.
Now that Porch has a solid team, the focus is shifting to building the product, delighting customers and scaling.
"At this point, it is all about execution," said Ehrlichman. "So, we're keeping our heads down and moving fast."
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