HouseAmp is a revolutionary idea that brings the modernized power of technology together with one of the most in-demand industries. But the story of HouseAmp is more than a business. It's more than the product. And it’s more than the shape of the market the company is helping to define. HouseAmp’s brand has character and personality unique to its business because of the story that comes from its beginning.
Watch HouseAmp founders Rick Hennessey and Jeramie Maxwell to learn first-hand how HouseAmp came to be, what the story has been so far, and what the future holds for this enterprising organization.
Seth: All right, Rick and Jeramie thank you so much for joining me today. And I'm excited to share with everybody what you have as part of your experience and the HouseAmp story so far.
So, let's jump right into things. If you will, take me back to the very beginning.
Let me hear the story of how this all came to be. Where did this come from? Why was this
such a valuable idea for each of you?
Rick: All right. Well, thanks for having us on here. Both Jeramie and I've been fortunate enough to have businesses in the past and been in real estate a bit. One of the things we saw is that we had some friends and family that were selling in their homes but might not have had the means to really prepare them the right way.
We had a couple of friends and family members that we helped out [with fronting the money for repairs. When their homes sold, and they had a great gain and they paid us back when the house closed.
Then we started getting calls because the real estate agents and the brokerages were having challenges with the preparation to sell a home. There are many aspects that are they're very complicated. You know, the things that need to be improved from painting to landscaping to, you know, remodeling. They're staging all that stuff…and the process was just cumbersome
and complicated. So, Jeramie and I happened to be good friends and neighbors, and we were sitting around the fire, talking about, “hey, there's this problem and it's not being solved.”
So, we discussed how we make life better for other people, like the people we cared about? And for all the agents-my mother was a real estate agent as well-and we began to create HouseAmp the platform. We built this really unique solution set that enables agents, homeowners and contractors and the brokers to gain a huge amount of efficiency and value.
It does have a component that allows people to get capital to improve their home and not have to pay it till it sells but it's got a long list of other really awesome features that help brokerages, agents, and contractors in the middle of that process. And so, we're really proud of what we've built
And maybe Jeramie can provide an additional color.
Jeramie: Yeah, I echo what you say. I mean, when I just thinking back of when we started it
and how the conversations happened…And it's interesting, Rick, it comes from a background of
in a family where he was his mom was a real estate agent. And I come from a background where my dad was a contractor. And so, kind of pulling it all together and realizing that there were pieces within each segment that's involved in this whole process and this ecosystem, as I refer to it, the homeowner needed help with something.
And the realtor, there was aspects of the realtor that Rick had a personal experience with. And then the contractor side, you know, I had experience in that space and growing up around it at least. And so, kind of bringing those three things together in addition to Rick's background and software development and my background in banking is sort of the start of the business.
Rick: And it was it was a match made in heaven.
Jeramie: That's right. That's right. Ha Ha
Seth: That's great.
Rick: Well, great excuse to hang out together and talk about fun stuff. So that was really cool.
Seth: Yeah, for sure. For sure. Well, and it's so important to focus on the kind of core of the business is that it came from this desire, this capacity to help friends and family because I think that that helps to create this wonderful foundation for how you build the rest of the business.
And like you say, you're taking away these stories from your past that are helping to influence the decisions that you're making now. And I think that a lot of people can relate to that. And I think that that resonates with a lot of people.
So that's that that really is a great place to begin a business. It’s truly for the right reasons, for the right value within the marketplace. You're seeing this need this potential value and being able to create this fulfillment around it. So, I think that that's wonderful.
Rick: I would add onto that for a second for what you said, because I think a lot of companies are born because they either want to make money or they want to do this. It literally happened because we were helping people. And the stories are amazing. When we get done with a project like an agent, find somebody and they have a challenge of, you know, there are some people that have money, but they don't want to be taxed by taking it out somewhere. So, they love the idea that we help them there. But then there are a lot of people that are like, you've had so many people that want to go into a retirement home that have challenges getting financing, you know, to improve their home. Or there are situations where people's homes, parents have passed away. We've had several of those and has gone into probate and, you know, homes have been lived in and they need to be improved before they're sold.
And they had these incredible gains because, I think when they put in $63,000 and they gain was $180,000 or something like you know they're just and you think about that if you're the parent they on the home that pass along how happy you would be that they had the opportunity to do that.
But here's these two brothers in this case didn't actually have the capital so it's just a really wonderful thing. And then on the realtor side, you know they have their hands full.
It's a really busy time trying to get customers. There is there is obviously always commission attrition. And so, it's a really great to allow the agent to help their customer and do it without spending a bunch of cycles. It's just a referral. And they got complete transparency with the contractors about how they're able to submit an invoice and get paid within a day or two instead of trying to follow up and try to collect money that they build.
Jeramie: The ability for homeowners to be able to find a contractor that they don't know that has experience in their region or in their area to do the work that they're looking to do and to connect with them has been really valuable. And then, you know, one of the things that we found that is interesting is sometimes homeowners will be working with a realtor, and they'll have a contractor they want to work with. So that freedom to work with whoever they want to work with and not be told you need to work with this person or that person has been something that has been really valued and kind of fun to see. People lean in and say, really, we can work with whoever we want. It's been it's more or as much about the process as it is about the capital and access to the capital.
Rick: That's a great comment because we also see that on the agent side, where there's these brokerages that have good concierge programs, but they're maybe not implemented in a way that's super-efficient. So that I can't it's been really wonderful how many brokerages
are now reaching out to us because they're agents just using HouseAmp, you know, and they're like, we want a more meaningful relationship.
So, there's these things we're doing now with brokerages that really help them. And that's been just really a lot of fun because now we reach more agents, and we help them and they're helping more people and it's just really beginning to snowball. The ability to connect people in a way, whether you're a contractor connected to the homeowner or an agent referring them things like that.
We built this platform to be simple, and it's really sort of a transactional connection platform, you know, to help people connect.
Seth: Well, it's innovative and in a way that is connecting so many facets of the market. It's not just you wanted to create this to be a disruptor which and disruptor is a good thing, but this is this take it to that next level. It's like a disruptive innovator. It's creating something that where there's tremendous value from all these different points. So, with that let's talk a little bit about the why you've kind of talked to story the beginning and where things have come from to this point. But what would you like people to know, each of you, like people to know about what value that HouseAmp is placing in the market? And kind of why that is important.
Well, I would say it might sound a bit altruistic, but it's why we're here and it's that improving lives and Jeramie had a great tagline and we're going to use it. It's improving lives one home at a time. But like a lot of companies might have a tagline or something they talk about. But, but it's actually why we started and it's how we operate.
If you look at the employees of HouseAmp they're people that are actually good human beings that care about doing the right thing, and they came on board because they see us making a difference in people's lives it could be a homeowner who we help them get out of a challenging situation or leverage more equity in their home, not have to sell it for for less money because they didn't have enough to capitalize an improvement or staging or moving or things like that. It could be an agent who has some challenges of their own, getting homeowner to do the things they want or the cycles to sort of navigate There’s a lot of different features and benefits of the platform that you wouldn't see just by taking a look at the website. But when the agents start to work with us, they see more.
So, we hopefully improve their lives. Like I think about my mom as an agent, you know, she put a lot of work and so we can do things to help them improve the experience for their customers and for them for themselves. And we've really done a pretty good job. And then the last part, I think, and Jeramie made the point earlier is on the contractor side, it’s a brand-new segment. You know, there’s a lot of groups that are remodeling their groups and build homes, but this is a unique segment and that they go in and they improve the home in a short amount of time in order to list it. And so that segment is is very, very unique and it can open up brand new revenue opportunities for some of these some of these contractors. And that's pretty cool.
Jeramie: Yeah. And I you know, one of the things that our teams heard me say a lot is that we exist to do specifically this. Right? We're not we’re not trying to to be something that we're not. If you look at this, you know, today people want to move into homes that are moving ready. Right. And people are trying to improve that home, to sell that home. And our approach to this is we're building a platform that enables all parties to access it and do what they do better. Right. We don't have a motive other than just to do this. Our motive is to help the realtor do better at what they do and to help the homeowner make the improvements and and access capital and do the things that they that they're trying to do and to help the contractor do what they do. That’s our only motive, is to make each of their segment, each segment in our sort of ecosystem propels them to do better at what they do. So, it's really, it's really fun when we're talking with our team and saying, okay, what do the realtors need? Right? What do they need to help them do better? What are the contractors need? What do they need to help them do better? What is the homeowner looking for? How do we provide that to each of them to help them be successful? At what they do?
Rick: And, you know, it took us almost a year and a half to build this platform, which try breaks every startup rule that I've ever thought about. But what's so cool was when we started getting people on the platform, whether it's an agent or a homeowner or a contractor, like, that’s it. It's all I have to do. Yeah, that's all you have to do. You know, they’re like a loan happening in minutes. Like what? No. Yes. You know, I don't want to wait. You know, the agent be able to refer somebody or have transparency. Look at the projects. The you know, there’s also the new agent programs we’re coming out with now that are super cool, that help the agents. So, it was really fun to have built something and maybe there's more to come, but to build something and then have people in the middle of doing it go like, that's it. That's so cool, you know? So that feels really good for sure.
Seth: So, and you guys talked about this a little bit. The company’s obviously it's come a long way since its inception, and it's grown a lot. But if you would help us to peer behind the curtain a bit and give us an idea of what you would say is the biggest lesson that you've learned in this growth and in this kind of process so far
Rick: One of the biggest lessons is, is to be good listeners. There are some things we assumed in the very beginning, and then we went through our, you know, trial customers and agents there, things that they they wanted differently. So being a good being a good listener, I think the other one is initially, I think we looked at it like we wanted to help people get money to improve their home and not have to pay for it until they sold. And yeah, that's part of it. But to be honest, it's a lot more about improving the entire process. So, it's interesting how agents will get on and be so psyched about what it does. If they looked at house and initially it might just make a referral without even getting on the platform, right? And they go like, oh yeah, I forwarded one of my customers. Thanks for the help. No. Have you actually got on the platform or tried it? And they get on like, wow, oh, this is cool. So, for us, it's a lot it started out probably as a way to help people get capital and people we cared about capital, but as we evolved, we realized that this process was extremely broken and that we're fixing that we're helping, you know, make things more efficient and cleaner transactions for all parties, the contractor or service pro the homeowner.
And the I think that's the biggest lesson is that we look at HouseAmp lot less about just to, you know, pay close loan a lot more about just making the entire process easy and awesome.
Jeramie: I echo that. I mean, one of the other things that I thought was and that that we learned along the way is sort of the need. Right. And the resilience of the need. Let's not forget, we said let’s go do this right before the world shutdown with COVID. And, you know, as as we started building and then what transpired in happened, we sort of paused for a minute and we were talking, saying, okay, what happens? Like, how do we what's the path forward? We just started this and now everyone's home and how are we going to hire a team that's not in a building together? Right. How are we going to have engineers? How are we going to have, you know, just go down the list? So, learning how to build a great team where everyone's remote and, you know, connecting with people virtually through through a computer screen and then watching the market, who had an idea of what we were doing, continue to call and say, hey, when are you guys going to be ready? Like, we really, we really need your help. We need our homeowners need to make improvements to their house when nothing was selling. Right. I mean, the world stops for a minute. And it didn't it didn't slow down. And we pause for a minute to figure out what do we do? And then we realized, like, not the world is resilient and and things will change and will be different coming out of this. But going through this, things are going to continue to move forward and we're going to continue to, to to progress this. So, it's been it’s been an eye-opening experience. For me personally, how you have a growing team and how you you meet people virtually and develop relationships virtually and then also seeing the market need. Right. As well, like it was resilient.
Rick: So, it was it’s been a good it’s been a good learning lesson that that was a cool experience because we had just you been in the middle of a of our our first seed. And when it hit, we called every back and said, you could have your money back or we're going to probably do this now. But we don't you know; we don't know what's going to happen. The market it was cool because in the financial markets, they called an uncorrelated return. In our market, we just say that like people will need housing, whether it's a buyer’s market or seller's market, because if it's a seller's market, they want to maximize equity. If it's buyer's market, they need to make sure their home is moving ready. And one of the, you know, competing with other homes. And so, either way we get to help agents across the board. But the cool part is our investors that came in, we told them they have their money back and they were just like, now, this is cool. I like what you're doing for people. I like how you can help people meet. Adds a couple early examples of where you know someone who is in a challenging situation. They might have been in the military, and they got transferred out and the housing did help. They have a lot of capital and that really felt good. It feels really good to have us be able to have a business that really does help people. You know, you think about the people. Most people their homes are the largest asset of wealth, and they have. About 75% of people don't have cash flow to make improvements, before selling. And that's not okay because everybody deserves to be able to get as much equity out of their home, their investment as a as they can.
Oftentimes, you know, they’re forced to sell to companies are now buying up homes and renting them out. And there’s all these different things happening. And we just sort of feel like we want to be there for you know, people real people like our mom and dad and cousins and somebody else’s mom and dad and cousins
Seth: That's great. That's great. So big. Kind of big question. Kind of a loaded question but take us to the future. What is the near future hold and more importantly, what is HouseAmp’s place in the near future from both of your perspectives?
Jeramie: I mean, you know, there's been a lot a lot of all-in in the past two years. Right, to propel us much further into the future than I think many of us or especially myself thought. I mean, if you think about the process, right, we've taken things like notaries and things like filings, and we've digitized those. Now we've made those where you’re talking to someone through a screen, and you don't have to leave your house. So, the ability for you to access capital instead of taking two months takes minutes, right? Like it's, it's literally that fast now. And, you know, when we started, we talked about the obstacles of trying to make this quick. And a lot of those obstacles, the market has sort of solved or propelled this forward because of COVID. So if you look if you look forward, I think that the ease of access and the ease of the process of making it more simplified is, is you'll see a continued trend in that you know, we're doing some things right now where contractors are able to leverage our platform to give estimates virtually no right that they're not they're not going to the property and spending two or hours of the property. They're linking directly with the homeowner and giving them an estimate to replace their deck or to replace windows or whatever it may be. So, I think you’ll see a lot more movement of that.
I think you'll continue to see people wanting homes that are moving already. You know, they the idea of moving into a home and then renovating it is not something that most people want to take on. And so, I think you’ll you’ll see you’ll see more and more people looking to buy homes that they can move in and live in versus move in and work on.
Rick: There's a trend with all the TV shows where they're improving TV shows and all that stuff, that people are feeling empowered. And that's really cool because, you know, when we see is, you know, this democratization of people feeling like they can do the things to get the most equity out of their home and just making it super simple anybody can do this. My mom can get on to house and and just like super short amount of time, you know, just set up and be interacting with contractors and have her home improved. She doesn't have to be. It is it's not complicated, you know, analogous to any sort of hub that you might have and software that makes you your life easier. Right. That's what we've become.
We've really evolved because of feedback from the participants in our ecosystem, like the entire you know, usability of what we're doing came from the agents, realtors, homeowners and service pros, you know, just working with them how do we make your life better, faster, easier? And so, I think we'll see that trend of more people taking control and feeling more comfortable that they could actually make those improvements and leverage the equity in their home versus just be like, okay, we've just got to sell it as is and move on and so I think that for us, it’s it’s a really cool thing to be part of. We can see ourselves going into lower income areas where they don't have the opportunity to, to, you know, make those improvements and maybe, you know, making improvements across the entire block. Where, you know, they have the ability to sort of better leverage, improve their neighborhood and do things like that. So, there’s a bright future. There's a lot of really exciting programs that we’re going to be rolling out here this year. And now it's really, really enjoyable.
Seth: Well, there’s a lot of places that this can go. There's a lot of different avenues of success. And it's going to be interesting and fascinating for everybody that’s involved and all the different stakeholders and clients and participants to see where this goes and what the future holds and what's next. And we look forward to continuing these conversations and seeing how things evolve as time progresses. So, with that, I want to thank Rick and Jeramie for spending some time with me today. And again, we'll hear from both you guys again soon.
Jeramie & Rick: All right. Thank you