How Sweeten Built Trust Into the Home Renovation Process

House renovation startup Sweeten produced belief as the basis of its business — and now it has $1.5 billion worth of function in its pipeline.

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April 2021
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When Jean Brownhill walked into her Brooklyn household in 2007 and observed a gaping gap in the ceiling, she understood she was dealing with a renovation gone incorrect. Brownhill had crafted a job in architecture and construction — ­­if she struggled to discover a trusted standard contractor, other owners ought to definitely struggle. To seize the option, she released Sweeten in 2011. It’s an on-line marketplace that matches owners with vetted typical contractors and allows manage the relationship and the challenge. People get transparency reputable contractors get a lot more enterprise. Given that launching, Sweeten has raised $20 million, concluded countless numbers of renovations throughout the place, and has $1.5 billion worthy of of projects in its pipeline. But to be successful, Brownhill knew she’d need to do extra than just generate a good service. She’d have to have to develop have faith in in a very distrusting marketplace. Here’s how.

1. Construct a new network.

Brownhill was properly-related in the architecture world, but not in tech or venture money. So she immersed herself. Making use of, she uncovered and attended just one accumulating a day. “I’d go to Meetups about coding, talent recruitment, fundraising — any subject matter wherever I could discover,” she claims. It aided her lay an early basis: “I uncovered the human being who created our very first line of code at a Meetup.”

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2. Establish have confidence in with companions.

To acquire about skeptical contractors, Brownhill generally fulfilled them at their perform sites and centered on developing mutual advantage. “They essential to know that we have pores and skin in the activity, as well,” she says. “Sweeten doesn’t demand them to be part of the platform and can assistance them uncover the suitable customers — but if they get 3 lousy reviews, they are off the platform.”

Image Credit history: Courtesy of Sweeten

3. Develop trust with shoppers.

Individuals weren’t utilized to choosing contractors on line, so Brownhill had to do the job added tough to humanize the approach. “I did matters that were being wildly unscalable: I’d individually stop by houses to just take measurements I sent handwritten thank-you notes I gave prospects my cellphone range. It would not be possible today at our scale,
but it helped folks get to know us,” she claims.

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4Develop have faith in with on your own.

At initially, Brownhill self-funded Sweeten. (“I cashed out my 401(k) and ran up my credit rating playing cards,” she states, which she does not suggest.) By 2013, she required institutional capital to grow but retained listening to no from traders. She stored at it, looking for VCs who would understand the organization. Then she identified Joanne Wilson at Gotham Gal Ventures, who enthusiastically agreed to commit.  “Being a female, currently being African American — your initial yeses, you practically really do not know how to react simply because you’re so not utilised to it,” Brownhill says. “I was stumbling all more than the place! I did not nonetheless know how to stroll as a result of open doors. Thankfully, I have given that figured out to do just that.”