After the Tubbs Fire destroyed thousands of structures in Northern California in October 2017, homeowners were scrambling to navigate a daunting process of rebuilding.
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Nikki Pechet watched in horror as her friend, VC and tech exec Jack Abraham, and many others lost their homes.
In the aftermath, she witnessed people (including Abraham) struggling to manage “the dizzying process” of rebuilding.
“Even he was lost,” said Pechet, who had worked at Thumbtack for four years.
That’s when the idea for Homebound, which just raised a $35 million series B, was born. The pair, both having been affected by the wildfires in the same community, came together to build the stealth startup.
“People had insurance checks in their pockets and land to build on,” Pechet recalls. “It was overwhelming dealing with architects, designers, excavators and insurance teams throughout the process.”
On top of that, the number of available contractors was slim. In Sonoma County, an estimated 400 homes were built in one year’s time. It was believed that about 6,000 structures in Sonoma and Napa County burned down.
“There was not enough capacity,” she said.
Homebound essentially serves as a tech-enabled general contractor. It’s developed tools to track and manage 370 unique tasks associated with building a home. Fifth Wall Ventures led its Series B, which also included participation from Khosla Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, Google Ventures, Ashton Kutcher and Thrive Capital.(Forbes profiled the company in this piece yesterday). The startup also raised a Thrive-led $18 million Series A in December 2018, bringing its total raised to $53 million. (The Series B actually closed in August of 2019 but is only now being disclosed, according to the company.)
“Our goal was to develop a better way to completely build homes and find labor from other regions so people were able to get started immediately,” Pechet said.
How it works
Homebound pairs homeowners with a concierge who helps with the whole process from pre-construction planning to move-in. The company says it plans to use its new capital to improve upon that customer experience as well as to continue developing its technology. Homeowners can use the company’s platform to monitor progress of the buildout, view their building plans, keep track of budget and make design decisions.
Homebound is currently working with over 150 homeowners who are in various stages of the building process. So far, it’s handed off several homes to homeowners. Turnaround time “varies dramatically” depending on the home but in a few cases, it was able to build a new house in 10 months’ time.
“Those homes we could build even faster today,” Pechet said.
Homebound has offices in San Francisco, Sonoma, Los Angeles and Denver although Pechet hesitates to name a headquarters. It currently has 65 employees, up from about 18 a year ago.
Investors are bullish on the company’s mission. Brad Greiwe, co-founder and managing partner at Fifth Wall, said Homebound is tackling construction and the homebuilding process by creating a new model for building custom homes – one that “integrates technology and a stronger customer experience.”
Kirsten Green, founder and managing partner of Forerunner Ventures, said her firm believes Homebound is making it more feasible and accessible for homeowners to build or rebuild their home, “on their own terms.”
Illustration: Dom Guzman