While Techvibes covered Gigpark back in the day which is a recommendation engine for local business services, uknowa, a renovation bidding engine, is bringing online recommendations for home renovation contractors on a much grander scale. The start-up, which was recently featured in this video on the BNN in a 90-second pitch, finished second at the 2011 Startup International festival out of 120 startups and said that five hundred people had signed up by the Sunday afternoon of the Fall Home Show when I spoke with the team.
If you’ve ever had a bad experience with a contractor in the past, uknowa attempts to eliminate that by accepting contractors into the system on a case-by-case basis, and now have thousands for consumers to choose from, where former clients will recommend and/or give reviews on a particular contractor’s work which can also be visually shown through images.
Contractors can deem themselves available for certain kinds of work, while consumers can place a bids for particular contractors. This can all be done without ever having to pick up the phone and searching through the big old Yellow Pages book.
The MaRS supported start-up’s emergence into the digital contracting space comes at a time where the Canadian Government has set $400 million aside for the ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes program until March 31, 2012.
Uknowa has released the service from Toronto-only to cover all of Ontario now and has started their first launch that covers the rest of Canada. They plan to be in the United States by next Spring.
Further, uknowa has added Renoversity, a knowledge-base of articles, blogs and tools developed by industry professionals led by Duane Grady, a 25-year construction industry professional.
The CEO of uknowa, Carlo Perez says: “Of the 1.9 million Canadian households that underwent home renovations in 2010, not only did 40% overspend, many were unhappy with the quality of the work. The “shock and awe” of the disaster reno might make great TV, but real homeowners want a resource that empowers them to make responsible choices at every step in their renovation, saving them money in the process”.
They are also seeking a first round of funding from venture capitalists!