HouseCall, Led by Ex-Qualcomms, Advances Mobile App for Home Chores

12/17/13Follow @bvbigelow

HouseCall, a San Diego-based startup that enables homeowners to tap an online marketplace for plumbers, housekeepers, and other home maintenance services, says it has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from San Francisco’s e.ventures, an initial investor in Angie’s List and Groupon.

HouseCall takes a different approach than Angie’s List, Yelp, or HomeAdvisor (previously known as ServiceMagic), according to Reza Olfat, a HouseCall co-founder and lead engineer. For one thing, HouseCall is focused on mobile users, although customers also can book services through the Web. Instead of generating revenue from advertising, HouseCall’s business model is more like Uber, the transportation provider that negotiates contracts with drivers to provide on-demand car service—and takes a percentage of each fare by providing a mobile app that connects customers with drivers.

In the same way, HouseCall says it maintains a roster of carefully selected independent service providers, and takes a slice of each work order sent through its system. This holiday season, for example, HouseCall is offering a Christmas tree delivery service by an intimidating giant elf who might not get hired if he was looking for work on a street corner.

HouseCall Elf with Christmas tree

HouseCall Elf with Christmas tree

HouseCall also represents a departure from the startup norm, at least in San Diego. All five founders previously worked together at Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), the “great attractor” that loses relatively few employees to the kind of entrepreneurial fervor that runs rampant in Silicon Valley. In San Diego, the wireless giant is known for its relatively high salaries and employee retention—and for regularly appearing in Fortune’s annual listings of America’s “Best Companies to Work For.”

However, Olfat says, “I don’t feel like we’ve burned any bridges, we still talk to those guys. We just did it. I don’t want to say we’re arrogant. We’re just confident in our abilities.”

At Qualcomm, Olfat says he worked with Ian Heidt, Adam Perry-Pelletier, Chris Zwickilton, and Roland Ligtenberg to develop and commercialize Gimbal, the location-sharing technology that began … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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  • http://techmarketintel.com/ David Dines

    I think the idea is pretty good, but they will face significant challenges when they try to scale because carefully screening and selecting a large contingent of skilled and reliable handypersons, repair persons, contractors, etc is quite hard.

    • Roland Ligtenberg

      In the beginning the screening is crucial to get the marketplace started. In the future during scaling, the marketplace will sort it self based on the review system put in place.