Installing home improvement products yourself can be a major hassle. DIY-ers (do-it-yourself-ers) are becoming DIFM’s (do it for me’s) based on demographic shifts and lifestyle changes, according to news reports.

DIFM’s are the target market of Buy It Installed, one of the fastest growing companies in Orange County, based on several metrics, according to CEO Grant Van Cleve. The company gained traction after getting $6.6 million in a Series A raise in mid-2017.

The Buy It Installed button just went live on the website of the company’s first large client, Van Cleve said, adding that he cannot disclose who that client is. Look for more major clients to follow suit.

Van Cleve did disclose a recent partnership with an OC company, Smarthome and its Insteon product. Both are under the umbrella of parent company Smartlabs, in Irvine. Insteon provides networking technology. Smarthome sells home automation products.

And Buy It Installed is poised to announce the launch of national manufacturer American Standard Brands, a North American manufacturer of plumbing fixtures, with its U.S. HQ in New Jersey. American Standard is part of Japan-based LIXIL Water Technology, which will also mean a rollout for Buy It Installed with LIXIL’s Grohe label, Van Cleve said.

No-Stress Installation

Buy It Installed created an e-commerce button that enables online shoppers to buy products, complete with installation. The company also works with brick-and-mortar retailers, manufacturers and distributors. They have contractors from 30 different trades. They can install consumer electronics, smart home systems, computers, plumbing, lighting and kits for outdoor sheds and greenhouses. The contractors are vetted and certified by Buy It Installed, as well as the retailer or manufacturer.

The company has also attracted broader interest for its “unique” method behind its “deceivingly simple” button, Van Cleve said. This button is powered by “artificial empathy,” an emerging trend in AI. It’s an artificial intelligence system that’s able to detect and respond to human emotions.

 

CEO, Buy It Installed

Expanding the Team

The company used its Series A raise to expand the team from 15 to 55 and moved to larger offices in UCI Research Park in Irvine, appropriately on Innovation Drive.

“More people, and people of high caliber who function well as a team, (were hired),” Van Cleve said. “Money helped recruit them, but the large client demand the company has encountered, plus the experience of the founder (Todd Banhidy), drew people to work here.”

Banhidy has more than 30 years in the installed sales industry. He was at the center of a slew of DIFM programs for retailers, including Montgomery Ward’s and Nied Made’s (window fashions) offering through Home Depot. He was president of a subsidiary of IAC, comprised of more than 150 brands and products. And, he was later chief service officer at ServicePower, a publicly-traded British artificial intelligence software company. He moved into consulting for companies like Amazon on what would become their Amazon Home Services division. Most recently, he was the managing director of DIFM Global, an IP holding company, with HQ in Atlanta, with interests in firms serving the worldwide installed-sales industries.

Buy It Installed evolved out of Velexo, which Banhidy created in 2012. After developing the initial software, he launched pilots with 17 test customers in 2016. Those lessons, mixed with the investment received, enabled the development of the official Buy It Installed button, which is going live with companies soon.

Before becoming CEO, Van Cleve knew the company well as chairman of the board and an early investor. He’s a global entrepreneur, angel investor and a “business accelerator” through his own accelerator, VC Invest. He’s involved in close to 60 start-ups, serving as a board member or advisor in a quarter of those.

Series A Round

In the Series A round, the first $3 million came from SoCal sources, primarily from Tech Coast Angels – “One of their largest investments in some time,” said Van Cleve, vice chairman of the group that’s considered America’s most active angel group. That led to Skyview Capital in Los Angeles also investing in the first part.

The second part of the round – $3.6 million – was led by Ken Eldred, once Silicon Valley’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” for his “giant wins catalyzing Inmac and Ariba Technologies, and his core role in Crosspoint Ventures which was known for its uncanny success rate in picking winners,” Van Cleve added.

Ariba Technologies became SAP Ariba after the software and information technology services company in Palo Alto was acquired by German software maker SAP SE for $4.3 billion in 2012, according to news reports. Inmac was sold to MicroWarehouse in 1996 and in 2005, the French subsidiary, Inmac France, was sold to the French retailer Wstore and became Inmac Wstore. The parent company is Systemax.

Van Cleve said the new Buy It Installed team worked well to solidify early interest among potential clients.”

“This early data aligns well with early studies showing a 42% increase in revenue on product pages with the Buy It Installed button,” Van Cleve said. “The increase come form a bump in conversion rates as well as basket sizes.” (Basket size refers to how many items online shoppers put in their “cart”).

The next goal is to raise a Series B round, Van Cleve said, adding that he cannot disclose at this time the amount the company will be seeking.

We’ll look forward to keeping your readers posted when the data comes… the size of this round will be in the tens of millions,” he said.

 

 

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