If you own a home, you know that there is always something that needs to be repaired, installed or generally addressed. Whether it’s a leaky faucet, a new bed that needs to be assembled or a Nest thermostat that needs to be installed, there is always something.
One startup wants to make that particular part of home ownership less painful by offering up a dedicated handyman to be there to take care of all the random tasks on your to-do list. It’s an interesting model. Honey Homes hires the handyman as part of its staff, as a salaried employee to help ensure consistency in who’s taking care of the work in your home. Homeowners pay Honey Homes a flat fee ($200 per month or $2,000 per year) for the convenience of a membership-based “end-to-end” service using its app.
The way it works is that members are matched with a dedicated handyperson who comes by at least once a month to take care of home improvements and preventative maintenance. Because the employees are salaried, they also receive benefits, including parental leave and paid time off, a rarity in an industry that has historically relied on contractors.
Honey Homes launched the company with its first 10 beta customers in August of 2021 and is currently available to single-family homeowners in all of the San Francisco Bay Area suburbs, although not San Francisco proper. It recently began operations in Dallas.
Husband and wife team Vishwas Prabhakara (Yelp’s first operating chief) and Avantika Prabhakara (a former marketing head at Opendoor, Twilio and Zillow) teamed up with Katie Pham and Rory O’Connell to start Honey Homes in 2021.
In the last two years, Honey Homes has grown to more than 500 members and has completed over 20,000 tasks for homeowners, according to Vishwas. The company grew members — and thus revenue — by 8x in 2022, he added, and almost doubled already this year.
Since inception, the company has raised a total of $12.1 million in funding, including more recently $9 million in a Series A led by Khosla Ventures. Khosla and Pear VC co-led Honey Homes’ seed round in 2021. Other backers include Teambuilder Ventures and Moving Capital, along with angel investors such as DoorDash co-founders Tony Xu and Stanley Tang, Lyft co-founder Logan Green, Opendoor co-founder Eric Wu and Mercury co-founder Immad Akhund, among others.
Vishwas told TechCrunch he began working on the company in earnest after talking to a number of homeowners and concluding that there would be enough people interested in paying for a generalist to come to their house once or twice a month for ongoing maintenance or improvement work.
“I asked them, ‘would that be interesting to you? Would you pay for that?’ And surprisingly to me, the answer was a resounding yes,” he said. “We seemed to hit a nerve with homeowners.”
The Honey Homes app lets a homeowner create a to-do list and schedule appointments. It also helps pair homeowners with specialists if needed.
But what if, I was curious, you cross all the tasks off your to-do list? What then?
“The one thing that has been really eye-opening is that by offering this as a membership service, all of a sudden you realize you want more,” Vishwas said.”And there are some people who just like the peace of mind.”
Honey Homes employs 45 people, including 25 handy people. Vishwas said the consistency of workers has helped boost its credibility.
“From a homeowner perspective, what you want is somebody you can build a relationship with and trust,” he told TechCrunch. “And so seeing the same person over and over is highly valuable to a homeowner.”
The startup has also launched something called Honey Homes University, or a training facility for people who work in the field so they can build their skills. Looking ahead, Honey Homes eventually plans to expand into urban centers but for now is focused on serving suburban single family homeowners, which Vishwas says tend to have a wider set of upkeep and maintenance needs.
Khosla Partner Evan Moore, who joined the Honey Homes board as part of the Series A funding round and also is a co-founder of DoorDash, said that while he was VP of product at Opendoor he saw that the company “could get dramatically better service, quality and pricing from home service providers.”
But as an individual homeowner, “it’s hard to reliably get good work done at a reasonable cost.”
Moore wrote via email: “Many startups have attempted to improve this customer experience and failed, but it seems Honey Homes got it right. Rarely does an idea work so well so quickly. I’ve been involved since day one and have been fortunate to see the incredible response from customers.”
He believes that Honey Homes differs from many other consumer startups in the home services space that simply match homeowners with potential vendors or “serve as a concierge.”
Added Moore: “Honey Homes solves the whole problem of home improvement and maintenance, from idea to completion. By doing quality work repeatedly, we build trust with our customers. They then reward us with more work over time.”