Sometimes high-tech meets the physical world in a particularly tactile manner. That’s the case with Roofr, which fuses sky-high photography and your roof.
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The Y Combinator-backed startup has raised $3 million in new seed funding to make the roofing industry more transparent for clients and contractors. The startup uses aerial imaging to give customers quick estimates online and connects them with local roofing contractors in their area. Crosslink Capital led the company’s seed round, which brings Roofr’s total funding to $4 million.
Richard Nelson, the founder and CEO of Roofr, told Crunchbase News that the traditional roofing industry model is in desperate need of disruption. The Toronto-native should know—he comes from a long-line of roofers and decided to start the company after his own work experience.
“I took a job with one of the largest residential commercial roofing contractors up in Toronto, Canada,” Nelson told me in Roofr’s new San Francisco office. “I had noticed there were a lot of problems… but it wasn’t until I got a taste of one of the bigger companies that I was really like, wow, this industry is completely archaic.”
In Nelson’s view, the traditional model enables large commercial roofing contractors to act as marketing companies that hire subcontractors—local roofing businesses—to do their work. “They add upwards of sometimes 50% on top of the subcontractors’ labor rates just to be that middleman,” Nelson explained.
So he sold his house, quit his job, and went the startup route in April 2015. Six months later he was introduced to his now technical co-founder Kevin Redman. The company’s first 65 residential customers joined after hearing Nelson’s door-to-door pitch about Roofr’s online aerial imaging-enabled quoting tool. The two then applied to the Y Combinator and 500 Startups accelerator programs in San Francisco and hit the road to participate in YC’s Summer 2017 cohort.
Today, Roofr works with local residential and commercial roofing businesses in the Bay Area, Ontario, Canada, and Florida. Customers in those regions can go to the Roofr site, fill out a questionnaire with their address, and receive an aerial image and algorithm-based estimate for a local contractor which Nelson says is accurate within 10 percent. The company then assigns an in-house roofing expert as a project consultant who speaks with the client before assigning a contractor.
“That’s where we go above and beyond any of the other home services marketplaces,” Nelson explained. “If you go to any of the other competitors… they’re just a simple aggregator that’s connecting you to multiple roofing contractors in their app and you choose who you want to work with.”
Roofr generally connects its clients with just one contractor. The local business itself, which is vetted before joining Roofr, sends out a contractor for a final inspection and quote. Businesses are not required to use Roofr’s exact price and only pay Roofr’s fee if they take on the project.
Nelson says that by using Roofr, homeowners typically save on average 20 percent compared to commercial roofing companies. On the B2B side, he says that local businesses not only have the opportunity to build out their brand and clientele but can also earn 10 to 15 percent more than they would by sub-contracting under a larger company.
“The goal is to keep [roofing contractors] very busy,” Nelson said. “One of our busiest roofing contractors almost did 200 roofs with us last year.”
Roofr works with clients both in the commercial and residential sectors. With the funding, the company will be growing its team and expanding its reach into Texas.
“It is a huge opportunity from an investor standpoint. It’s close to a $60 billion a year industry, there are almost 5 million buildings that have their roof replaced every single year in North America.”
Illustration Credit: Li-Anne Dias
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