Data into Dollars: Porch Pulls Together Home Improvement Data
When Seattle-based entrepreneur Matt Ehrlichman wanted to remodel his home, he couldn’t find a single place online that combined ideas for remodels, reviews of local service providers, and other data needed for starting home improvement project. His frustration led him to create Porch, a website that helps homeowners get inspired, organized, and connected to a network of trusted, local home improvement professionals. And, just one of useful resources Porch offers is open data from the communities it serves.
Porch was founded in 2012, is based in Seattle, Washington, and employs around 100 people. According to Wall Street Journal article, Porch pulls open data about work permits, professional licenses, and other home-construction information from the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development and more than 100 other government agencies. The site currently covers more than 1.5 million professionals and 90 million projects. Site visitors get to review projects near their homes and the professionals who did the work, including actual photos and cost data from their projects.
Porch is growing, with Ehrlichman looking to hire 80 employees in 2014. And, this small company is now linked to one of the biggest players in the home improvement space — Lowe’s. Lowe’s plans to offer Porch as an in-store resource to customers who want guidance on hiring help for everything from interior design to repairs to landscaping.
In an CNBC article about the partnership, Ehrlichman addressed the power of data to “disrupt the home improvement industry” by saying, “Porch is about creating that trusted home improvement network. When you have the actual data, you know this particular professional has worked on this home next door, and your neighbor has hired them multiple times. Or we know this professional has worked on 50 homes in your area. That creates a huge amount of trust for the homeowner.”
Time will tell how quickly Porch’s network of professionals and homeowners will grow. One thing is certain, though, its success will put positive pressure on more cities and counties to offer data that is up-to-date, machine-readable. And, that’s a win for open data.