In the world of home renovations and construction projects, one common pain point stands out – the challenge of finding the right contractor. More often than not, homeowners and project financiers are faced with the daunting task of choosing the right professional for their construction needs. Often, this problem is rooted in what economists call “information asymmetry.”
Enter Shovels, a data-driven startup poised to disrupt the construction industry by shining a light on this murky information gap. Founded by co-founders Ryan Buckley and Luka Kacil, Shovels combines building permit data with building inspections, B2B data enrichment, tax assessor, and ad tech platforms to form a comprehensive understanding of the building contractor market.
Let’s take a closer look at how Shovels is harnessing the power of building permits and inspection records to empower decision-makers with transparency and actionable insights when selling to homeowners and contractors.
Information Asymmetry in the Trades
Homeowners and financiers, armed with dreams and blueprints, often struggle to find the right contractor – that perfect blend of skill, experience, and reliability. This disconnect, where contractors hold the cards on their own expertise, breeds frustration and inefficiency.
Information asymmetry occurs when one party in a transaction has more information than the other, leading to inefficiencies in the market. In the context of hiring building contractors, this translates to contractors having a much better understanding of their skill level and suitability for a job than the people hiring and financing them.
The result? Numerous negative experiences when it comes to home improvement projects, often leaving clients dissatisfied and frustrated.
Building a Bridge of Data:
Shovels has set out to tackle this problem head-on by creating a platform that harnesses the power of building permit data to provide transparent and insightful information about building contractors.
Here’s how they do it:
Data Collection: Shovels scrapes all available building permits and associates them with contractors. They also gather permit inspection and approval timeline data, and they do this across thousands of jurisdictions in the United States.
Data Analysis: After collecting this wealth of data, Shovels crunches the numbers to calculate new metrics that shed light on contractor skill levels and job fit. These metrics include inspection pass rates and construction speed, which are predictive of project outcomes.
Through meticulous data collection and analysis, Shovels creates a treasure trove of information. This data isn’t just numbers on a screen; it’s a bridge of trust between homeowners and contractors. By making critical information readily available, Shovels empowers informed decision-making, reducing the risk of mismatched expectations and costly mistakes.
Embracing Technology in Construction
While the construction industry is often seen as slow to adopt new technology, Shovels has found a niche where technology can make a significant impact. Instead of trying to change the practices of contractors in the field, Shovels focuses on the offices of decision-makers who sell construction products. This part of the industry is already online, providing an opportunity for Shovels to leverage technology effectively.
Founded in 2022, Shovels has carved its niche by providing a one-stop shop for all things building permits and contractors. Their secret sauce? A mountain of data – over 100 million building permits, diligently sifted and sorted to provide users with a comprehensive understanding of the construction landscape.
Gone are the days of scouring government websites and cold-calling contractors. Shovels puts everything at your fingertips, from permit details to inspector schedules, contractor expertise to real estate transaction data. Think of it as Pitchbook for the construction industry.
So who needs such a treasure trove of knowledge? Climate tech companies, for starters. Armed with Shovels’ intel, they can target homeowners ready for energy-efficient upgrades, tailor their offerings to local building codes, and build robust installer networks. Construction companies can find leads, identify growth opportunities, and streamline their project management. Even investors can get a clear picture of the market, spotting trends and anticipating demand.
In a crowded AI landscape, Shovels stands out by focusing on a specific, underserved market. By providing the essential tools for navigating the complexities of the construction industry, they’re not just facilitating projects, they’re building a smarter, more sustainable future.
Shovels is an FN Fund portfolio company. To learn more about FN Fund, click here.