Home improvement social network launches in Seattle

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by RENAY SAN MIGUEL / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 22, 2013 at 9:25 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 22 at 1:30 PM

Matt Ehrlichman's personal experiences with renovating his home provided the foundation for the latest startup company to make news in the Seattle tech scene.

Porch.com is also the third company that Ehrlichman has helped bring to life, following two successful software firms that he grew and sold. That makes him a veteran of the local startup funding scene, which he describes as good, "but it could be great."

Porch bills itself as "the first home improvement network," offering a full range of information for homeowners -- everything from ideas for inspiration to cost projections and names of professionals used and recommended by neighbors, friends and others in the Porch network.

That may sound similar to other online companies offering up advice and recommendations on professionals, but Ehrlichman believes there's still room for a brand that can separate itself from the home improvement pack.

"There's no doubt despite the solutions that are out there that there's still a tremendous amount of pain for homeowners, that it's still not easy," Ehrlichman told KING5 News. "People don't want to go and just search for a professional, and people certainly don't want to pay to read reviews on professionals."

Porch is free and promises to never charge consumers for its information. The network makes its money by offering business tools for professionals and through partnerships.

It took $6.25 million in seed money from angel investors in Seattle and Silicon Valley to help Porch get started and open its online doors to the public in September. Its current offices on Eastlake Avenue are temporary; the company will soon be moving to bigger digs in Southlake Union because Ehrlichman says the company is growing rapidly. He says he expects the current staff of 30 to reach 150 sometime next year.

Ehrlichman, who grew up in the Seattle area, says the previous experiences he and his team have in building companies drew positive responses from investors when they pitched the Porch concept. Other entrepreneurs without that experience, but with good business ideas, still need some help in realizing their goals.

"I do think Seattle continues to need another few big wins to continue that momentum that's happening right now," he said. "I think if you've started a company before, if you've had success before or if you have traction, there's plenty of money and there’s great angel investors and great VC's up here in the area."

Ehrlichman hopes Porch will be one of those "wins," and can help contribute to the local startup ecosystem by keeping things focused on the customer. "What we're about, and what most startups are about if done correctly, is about listening to your users as you're making your products."

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