A cross between Houzz and Angie's List, venture capital start-up Porch.com is intended to provide Lowe’s customers sources for painting, remodeling and construction services, and while marketing professionals to consumers. The web-based Porch.com is mobile enabled to reflect the increasing reliance of consumers on smart phones and tablets.
The Porch.com deal is described as a "strategic relationship" with Lowe’s stores, and the roll out begins with 139 stores in North and South Carolina and in the Seattle area, where Porch.com is based. Rival Home Depot acquired the RedBeacon service in 2012, as the big-box retailers face off against Angie's List, Houzz and other sites for influence in consumer remodeling decisions.
Lowe's says homeowners struggle to find professional repair and remodel services, relying on paid services or word-of-mouth. Angie's List requires consumers to pay to access its reviews. Porch helps homeowners locate local professionals based on who their neighbors or friends endorsements. Unlike Yelp or Angie's List, professional service providers registered at its site, pro.Porch.com, receive endorsements, but not negative reviews, Porch.com says.
“By partnering with Porch," says Jay Rebello, VP New Business Development & Corporate Innovation, Lowe’s can "benefit our professional customers by providing them greater opportunities to grow their businesses.”
Porch says its home improvement network amasses large amounts of local home improvement data and provides it free to homeowners and professionals. It says it has 1.5 million pros and 90 million projects in its network - work valued at $2 trillion.
“Home improvement projects are an essential part of owning or renting a home,” says Matt Ehrlichman, a Silicon Valley exec who is CEO of Porch. An infographic produced by Porch.com says home remodeling and improvement will grow at a rate 3-5% higher than inflation, and that kitchen and bath improvements will gain share as the most popular improvement.
If a Lowe’s customer needs a pro for a service Lowe’s does not currently offer, employees can access the Porch network of pros on their mobile devices and in-store terminals to identify local providers. Lowe’s pro customers can join the Porch network for free, giving them exposure to Lowe’s consumers in need of specific services to complete their home improvement projects. A premium pro membership is also available for greater insight into local home improvement projects and trends.
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