Near A Builder, founded by Sebastian Matroos, Roy Postings and Danny Havenga, went live in beta on Saturday, February 23, and works by matching trade jobs posted by homeowners to reliable, screened and geographically close tradesmen.
In an exclusive interview with HumanIPO, Matroos said: “It is very important to us we have reliable builders. We make sure we get their correct documentation and reference checks.”
To register on the site, a tradesman must pay an annual ZAR1,000 (US$110) registration and screening fee.
Once their profile is online, which can feature pictures and reviews of their work, they will be one of ten candidates sent a notification once a suitable job has been posted by someone needing work carried out.
The tradesman then has the option to accept the job and offer a quote to the consumer, who should then have the choice of a range of quotes.
Each of the tradesmen which has confirmed an interest in the job will also be notified each time a rival tradesman submits a quote.
Matroos added: “We ensure the client, in the shortest possible time, gets feedback and five proper quotes. It creates a real-time market.”
The team, which has extensive experience in the building industry, both hands-on and in building websites for merchants, believe the industry is in need of modernisation and guidance from an online marketing perspective.
In the UK, similar online site My Builder turns over £1 billion (US$1.5 billion) a year, but in South Africa Near A Builder see the only alternatives as Yellow Pages and Home Directory, which are A to Z lists of tradesman.
The startup monetises further by taking a two per cent cut of any job completed which costs more than ZAR20,000.
As well as providing a connection platform, after partnering with fellow 88mph startup Peach Payments, Near A Builder are also providing tradesmen with a portable payment device which can be plugged into a smartphone.
This allows the merchants to take payments at a client’s home as soon as they have finished the job.
Consumers will also be able to make a payment online or in cash.
Near A Builder has been part of the 88mph accelerator programme, in Woodstock, Cape Town, for the past four weeks, but they are already looking ahead.
Havenga said: “Our goal is to get an investor that is willing to take a chance with us to market it throughout South Africa and make it a home brand.
“We are growing quickly and organically, but we want to be the go-to brand as quickly as possible.”