Fortune reports that Porch.com, a Seattle-based home improvement networking company that connects homeowners to building professionals, is making waves with its latest partnership. After just barely a year in business, the startup has jumped to 250 employees and 1.5 million professional listings, which was facilitated largely through their partnership with Lowe’s.
When homeowners consult with Lowe’s staff about hiring contractors, they are directed to the Porch.com site. The partnership with Lowe’s is the first thing that Porch.com’s representatives mention in each sales call. Like Yelp—which Porch shamelessly patterns itself after–Porch inquires about the marketing needs of businesses and suggests they subscribe to a “pro” account.
The partnership is a no-brainer for Porch CEO Matt Ehrlichmann, who says that, “Not every professional knows Porch, but everybody knows Lowe’s. We’ve got about 70 people right now that are out there selling to home service professionals. What these folks can do is use the Lowe’s brand to get us in the door.”
Lowe’s CDO Richard Maltsbarger’s enthusiasm about the partnership is clear. The great part about our proposition and partnership with Matt and Porch,” he says, “is that between our knowledge of home improvement, and the Porch team’s knowledge of technology, the Internet, and big data, we have total expertise.”
Another key partnership Porch has made is with Realtor.com. Realtor.com’s data pool forms the basis for the site’s “Porch Home Reports,” which are given to potential homeowners for free. Each report shows the renovation history, improvement projects, and repairs that were done over the years, as well as information about the contractors who did the work. It’s somewhat like a Carfax report for homes.
Tracy Mahnken, the senior vice president of product management for Realtor.com, recognized that there is “a really complimentary relationship” between what each company does. “If we’re focused on the 2.5 million homes that are for sale, Porch is focused on the 95 million that are not. But a homeowner that has taken that kind of time to put in all that detailed information about their home,” she says, “that home will come up for sale. It will come up for sale in a year, maybe two years. So what Porch is doing only helps us build out our database further.”
To further enhance its professional features, Porch.com has recently launched its “Pro Dashbaord,” which is offered free to building professionals. What costs will be the reports, marketing assistance, and “featured pro” status listing. While the site has significant appeal as a business listing site, it is rapidly growing into a viable social networking tool for building professionals.