RegainGo Offers Online Tools to Introduce Homeowners to Remodelers

4/24/12Follow @XconomyDET

Clark Covert and Jason Beale, co-founders of Detroit-based startup RegainGo, are looking to technology to try to recapture the nostalgic feeling of knowing and trusting the people who work on your home.

RegainGo, sort of a hybrid between Angie’s List and Groupon, offers short-term deal coupons as a way to introduce homeowners to the home improvement service providers in their communities. Both Covert and Beale have a background in real estate, and Covert says they noticed that, in the Google age—when consumers often blindly search for service providers based on location or the task they need completed and go with the first name that pops up—there was a disconnect between homeowners and contractors who do quality work.

The RegainGo site employs 1950s fonts, music, and kitsch as a way of trying to recreate the days when people had lifelong relationships with their plumbers and roofers. “We’re going for a 1950s feel because you knew your home service providers then, and we weren’t in the financial trouble we’re in today,” Covert says, pointing out that the home improvement market in metro Detroit is booming as a direct result of that financial trouble. “It really stinks—a lot of people are kind of stuck in their homes because they can’t afford to buy or sell. We want to help those people out.”

On the newly launched RegainGo site, consumers are presented with a panel of eight coupons, each of which covers a service being done by a specific merchant. The selection of coupons changes every eight days. (Eventually, Covert says RegainGo will offer daily deals.) Once users purchase a coupon, they  get membership to the site and can browse the full merchant directory for future home improvement projects, and learn more about who will be working on their home. Merchants will be able to use their page in RegainGo’s directory as a full-on ad, where they offer details about their operation, video chat with prospective consumers, offer quotes, and post reviews. Consumers can share coupons through their social networks, thereby building RegainGo’s user base. “Consumers want to see who they’re dealing with,” Covert explains. “We really want users to engage. Our directory is location-based, but contractors will appear higher on the list of search results based on the number of interactions they have with consumers or if they get great customer reviews.”

Although there’s no charge to be listed in RegainGo’s directory, merchants can pay between $50 and $200 per month to have a self-designed listing and access to an online dashboard that allows them to monitor their directory listing. For $250 per month, RegainGo will handle all of the merchant’s Facebook and Twitter marketing, distribute their coupons through the RegainGo Facebook account, and allow them to use a white-labeled directory listing as a main website. RegainGo will soon feature an “Ask a RegainGo Pro” section, where users will be able to leave video messages and questions (“How do I get this wine stain out of my carpet?”) and see which service providers are online at any given moment.

Covert says RegainGo, which is part of the TechTown business incubator, plans to target realtors by offering them $10 gift cards to share with their clients. A lot of people in metro Detroit are buying foreclosures that need fixing up, Covert says, and he sees those folks as RegainGo’s bread and butter. RegainGo also has a partnership with the National Association of Home Remodelers, whose 450 local members are serving as the website’s test market to help Covert and Beale weed out features that aren’t useful. By next year, Covert plans to have RegainGo directories for Ann Arbor, Lansing, and Grand Rapids, as well as metro Detroit.

“Our aim is to allow users to search with confidence and hopefully develop the kind of trust-based relationship that people used to have with their local merchants,” Covert adds. “We want them to regain a feeling of pride in their homes.”

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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