If you told me that this week I would find out about a fence building company that employs 350 people and has raised a total of $53 million, I would ask you to pass the bong because I want some of what you smoke . . But that’s exactly what Ergeon secretly built for the last 4 years. It just launched in Georgia, in addition to Texas and California, and recently completed its Series B funding round.
The presentation of the company is simple – it allows anyone to order construction projects like fences, driveways and more, just like they order other goods and services online. The company currently prefers projects that are too small to require a general contractor, but that could really benefit from one. ERGeon sets prices and is responsible for customer relations, and then outsources the actual work to local contractors.
I spoke with the CEO of the company, Jenny He, to find out more about the what, why, and yes? companies:
“I was introduced to construction at a very early age. My parents were civil engineers and worked on the biggest dam in China a long time ago. I studied electrical engineering in my freshman year and then got my PhD in computer science. I then worked at McKinsey for seven years, where I worked primarily in the industrial sector,” He explains, describing her journey at Ergeon. “I met my co-founder at his previous startup where he was the founder. He was more of a career CTO, always just fascinated by how technology is changing the way people work. He and I both came to this when our interests overlapped: how can we use technology to transform the work of more skilled workers?”
He explains that the duo chose construction in part because the sector suffers from one of the worst labor shortages in the U.S., arguing that there are over a million unfilled jobs at any given time. The company claims the industry is worth $1.5 trillion in the US alone.
“FriIn terms of technology trends, we have begun to see more and more technology being created for the commercial side of construction; for big projects. There have been advances in CAD and what you can do on mobile devices like phones and tablets,” says He, but reiterates that the technology has not been applied to the housing market. “We felt that the advantage of living space as a starting point is that you are doing thousands of projects and you can start building some pretty meaningful technology. From a commercial standpoint, there is always a way to make money on a billion dollar project. When you talk about projects for the average homeowner, things are different. If you have a project, it’s not very attractive to the contractor – you don’t have a billion dollars to offer it – the results can be of very variable quality depending on who you manage to attract. There are often delays and everything goes over budget. The whole process is just very painful. I just want to be able to book things the same way I book everything else in my life: online.”
ERGeon takes care of all the contacts between the contractor and the homeowner and even guarantees the quality of the work. If the fence comes down a couple of months after installation, they will fix the situation, the company claims.
“We have a remote session with you where you show us what you need. We can take all measurements remotely, as well as remotely carry out the entire assessment, including the conditions of your facility. After that, we communicate with you in the environment you prefer. If you need SMS, email or a call, this is how we communicate with you. We manage the project from start to finish so you don’t have to worry about [it] and you don’t really need to talk to the contractor who comes to your house. Billing and everything else is done online,” He says.
The company claims that the product is liked not only by buyers, but also by contractors.
“We think of contractors as entrepreneurs. They have a small business, and it’s much harder for them than for me,” He explains, suggesting that as a technology startup she can raise funding, get resources. “Given the huge shortage of skilled workers in construction, we want to close this opportunity gap, and we can do that by truly empowering them to grow their business with us. We take over the work of the front office and the back office and give them economies of scale they might not otherwise enjoy. This is manifested in the procurement of materials, marketing and other aspects. They can grow with us. If you have to scale every single aspect of the business, it’s actually quite difficult.”
Of course, while the company started out by simplifying fence construction, it’s a stepping stone to a much broader feature set. The company then plans to start making driveways and then a number of other home improvement projects, with the ultimate goal of being able to handle most building projects. In addition, the company has great geographical growth ahead:
“We are currently only three states, and as we operate, we now serve about 14% of US households,” He explains. “We plan to increase this figure from 14% to 40% in the next couple of years. The second part, of course, adds more products to our portfolio. We started with fences because they have a few unique properties that make them a good entry to build your tech stack and are relatively large. Of course, our vision is to build a whole house. It’s just one piece at a time.”
The company just closed a $40 million Series B funding led by prismstarring GGV, summer time, Basic set as well as Metaprop. The company claims to have 350 employees in 42 countries using a remote approach.
Credit: techcrunch.com /