OwnerAide, a web-based startup out of Windsor is looking to change the way property owners find help. Owners post jobs that they need to get done, whether it be simply shoveling a driveway or something more time-consuming like painting a house. Those with the skills to get the job done then bid for the right to complete the task by providing licenses and accreditations, photographs, hourly rates, reviews, and more.
CEO Nick Pontacoloni answered a few questions about what OwnerAide provides.
Tell me a little bit about the history of OwnerAide. What was the inspiration? How did you get started?
I got the idea for OwnerAide about a year ago. I own several rental properties in Boston, and I needed to get them in shape for a September 1st move-in date. But it was a busy month at work, and I didn’t have the time to be on the phone getting quotes from electricians, replying to Craigslist ads looking for lawn care, and meeting with painters. I wanted a way for service providers to find me, not the other way around.
I expressed the idea to my best friends, each of whom has over a decade’s experience in construction and home maintenance. Turns out they felt the same frustration I did, but from the other end — they’d prefer to be working rather than having to spend time and money making cold calls or buying classifieds and lists of leads. They also explained that small jobs — the type I needed completed in Boston — were a good source of income but difficult to find. So, we designed OwnerAide on the belief that it should be easier for property owners to find the help they need, and that it should be easier for service providers to find work they’re qualified for. We each invested our own money and contracted the development of the site to a firm in Boston. The site went live in public beta just over a month ago.
What do you think businesses like yours could mean for those really struggling in today’s economy?
We believe it will empower the skilled individual to earn extra income. Current avenues for finding home maintenance work — Craigslist, classified ads, and lead-selling services — are either inefficient, expensive, or both. You need to put in a lot of time and money upfront if you hope to really benefit. With OwnerAide, an individual can build and operate a personal business online for free. They can find work, grow a reputation, and handle their payments all in one place. The ability to earn extra money without taking on significant risk of loss is enormously beneficial for someone struggling to make ends meet. OwnerAide can help him or her earn that extra few hundred dollars a month needed to get by without any cost. Right now we’re targeting home maintenance, but the platform could be used for nearly anything. It’s free to join and open to every one.
The site will also help homeowners save money. When an owner posts a job, aides bid a cost to complete it. An experienced plumber may make a bid, but if it’s a simple job and a reputable local handyman bids for less, that homeowner can accept the low bid and save money while getting the work done.
You’re in the startup phase — how is that going? What are your long- and short-term goals?
The startup phase has been incredibly rewarding. We’re seeing excellent traction early on — we’ve already signed up about 250 users, seen the completion of several dozen jobs, and paid out over $4,000 to local men and women who use OwnerAide to earn extra income. All the while we’ve been meeting with and getting valuable feedback from venture capitalists and technology entrepreneurs to help ensure the business grows in the right direction.
Our short term goal is to secure the funding needed to expand the site’s reach throughout and beyond Connecticut and to find the right technical help to continue to grow and perfect the site’s capabilities and performance. (If you’re a talented and ambitious Ruby on Rails developer, get in touch.) Long term, we want to make OwnerAide the preferred platform for property owners and managers nationwide to complete maintenance and improvement jobs in the $100–$1,000 range. A t the same time, we want OwnerAide to be the preferred network for any skilled individual to earn extra income. We genuinely believe OwnerAide will make people’s lives better because it saves homeowners and property managers time and money, and it helps others earn money doing what they’re best at.
If you’d like to learn more visit www.owneraide.com.
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