So you own a home. Congratulations! Only the kitchen counters are ugly, and you sort of want to redo them. Oh, and you need to replace the water heater. And someone should really do something about that weird brown stuff leaking from the dining room ceiling.
My parents’ generation always had “a guy”—someone (in our case, usually “uncle” who probably wasn’t really an uncle) in our circle who seemed to know everyone, and who had the wherewithal to get stuff like that done. A lot of people, this writer included, have a landlord.
And that’s sort of the idea behind The Happy Home Company, rolling out nationwide this week: Homeowners should have someone reliable they can turn to when crap hits the fan, so to speak.
The venture was launched by Doug Ludlow, the founder of photo-sharing app Hipster, who told Fast Company that as a first-time home buyer himself, he had no idea what he was doing. (The other cofounder, eBay executive Matthew Mengerink is the company’s CTO/COO.)
For $9.99 a month, you’re assigned a “dedicated home manager”—a former handyman, maybe someone who used to work in construction—that you can call on 24/7 for all your home needs, whether it’s finding a plumber ASAP or finding a local business to re-sod your lawn.
Managing a home should work like a “duck,” says Ludlow: Everything should look cool and calm on the surface, but underneath it all is a flurry of kicks and paddles to keep things moving. The Happy Home Company wants to be your duck.
The Happy Home Company’s plan to provide customers with a single person who can manage all home ownership needs is a bit different than the service provided by Thumbtack, which puts more of an emphasis on the technological infrastructure to help users find the right kind of contractor. In a way, it’s like the butler service, Alfred, which my colleague Sarah Kessler tried out for a week.
The company has 15 full-time project managers on staff—W2s and everything, says Ludlow. Mind you, the $9.99 monthly subscription cost doesn’t include the actual work carried out; the company handles the job of finding someone reliable, the background checks, the quality assurance, etc. Then The Happy Home Company puts your bills together in one place, either through the app or web.
Ludlow thinks that, with 60 million home owners nationwide, the market opportunity for the service is about 30 million, but that’s probably optimistic, considering the national homeownership rate fell 64% in Q2 this year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Still, The Happy Home Company targets a relatively deep-pocketed group of potential customers, many of whom have never lived in a place that didn’t have a landlord. Or maybe even an uncle who isn’t really an uncle.