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Announcing Our Investment in Renoviso

A few years ago I replaced all of the decades-old windows in our home with new ones.  The entire process was horrible.  I used home service lead-gen and recommendation-review sites to identify a half-dozen installers to set up initial in-person consultation appointments.  Only half of them even showed up.  For those who did, I was offered a set of confusing options with opaque pricing without any relative understanding of the quality of the service or the product itself.  After finally making a selection, the installation took longer the one-day quoted plan and we were left overnight with gaping hole in our house!  To top it off, there was a dispute about the final cost given the scope of work.  Eventually everything was completed and resolved, but not after an extremely frustrating and delayed process.  In a world of consumer-centric on-demand services, it didn’t seem like it should be this way.

Meanwhile, Eric Horndahl and Brian Waldman had been germinating a startup idea to address this consumer home renovation problem for a while now.  Over a year ago Eric and I were chatting at a NextView-organized entrepreneur event where he shared the concept of what has now become Renoviso.   It immediately clicked with me as a consumer when I detailed the above narrative, and he shared that my experience wasn’t unusual, nor was it exclusive to just window replacements.

Renoviso is a service empowering consumers to complete home renovation projects through a transparent and easy e-commerce model.  The company offers easy online configuration ordering with transparent pricing for premium products, short in-home consultation to confirm measurements and details before commitment, and no-hassle professional installation.  Renoviso has established direct relationships with both product manufacturers and high-quality installers to enable a seamless experience for the end-consumer.

Today Renoviso is announcing their $1.4M Seed round of financing led by NextView Ventures, where I will be joining the Board of Directors.  We’re joined in the round by RRE, BOSS Syndicates, NextGen, and awesome strategic angels like Niraj Shah (CEO of Wayfair) and Fabrice Grinda.

The rationale behind our investment isn’t built upon my one lone VC customer experience.  Rather, the foundation is based on our experience with labor marketplace investments like Paintzen and TaskRabbit, as well as our long-held thesis about high-consideration e-commerce.  I’ve blogged before about the latter:

People are now buying things online which take more than a few (dozen) minutes of reflection.  And not surprisingly, the most salient reasons that these items are given more consideration are that the cost are higher, they often take up more space in a person’s life/house, and they’re experienced over a longer duration.  In many cases, there were already cases of these types of products already being purchased online, but given a new wave of innovation and greater acceptance, I think we’re at an inflection point where an increasing number of high-ticket, larger, enduring goods will be bought on the web.

Selling high-consideration goods online is not just about publishing a web product catalog with features, specs, and reviews.  It’s about helping foster consumers though a rich buying experience… The innovation happening in this space now is centered around the way vendors present, inform, and consummate a sale.

Home renovation is perhaps the ultimate high-consideration purchase, both because it affects an individual’s life so directly and also because the purchase price can be very meaningful.  This means that if a startup can address the category with an effective solution, the rewards can be absolutely massive.  Historically and even recently, the online category has been filled with lead-generation & advertising models, but those only effectively direct consumers to installation providers to experience the same set of problems… Renoviso actually takes care of the whole process for the consumer.

Eric and Brian are the perfect duo to make this company a success.  Both are online marketing gurus with a rich background in multi-category customer acquisition at BuyerZone, TripAdvisor, and Cayan.  As I mentioned, I’ve known Eric for a while now, but in diligencing this investment I conducted a number of background references on both of them and heard superlative phrases like “I don’t think can give higher recommendation to anybody,” “fiercely hard working,” and “so hungry… I’d highly highly bet on him.”  It’s hard to argue with endorsements like those.

Windows are just the beginning for Renoviso.  I am looking forward to the day not too far from now when I personally can use the service to install a new fence or add hardwood floors to our den.  But I am more excited about when there will be thousands of customers joining the existing ones who are ecstatic about a home renovation experience which is stress-free.

David Beisel

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As an investor in the digital media space, David was most recently a Vice President at Venrock and previously a Principal at Masthead Venture Partners. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, David co-founded Sombasa Media, an e-mail marketing company best known for its flagship product BargainDog. Sombasa was successfully acquired by About.com where David served as Vice President of Marketing. David holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University. He also founded and leads the Boston Innovators Group, an organization which holds quarterly entrepreneur events drawing a thousand attendees.