Most entrepreneurs agree, scaling any startup is a challenge, especially for first time founders who lack the VC connections and financial resources. That’s not to say it’s impossible. It’s 2021. If you work hard enough, the funding is out there. “When entering an existing market that’s dominated by multiple competitors, you’ve got to have a lot more than just a pretty face and a good idea. It takes strategic positioning. You’ve got to define your beachhead customer profile and then growth hack your way into their hearts and minds.”
Justin Brian Smith earned his business degree in 2008. From 2007 through 2012, he served as Vice President at a large property management and maintenance firm that managed approximately 800 single family rental homes. It was there that he discovered all the pains contractors and property managers face in running their daily business. Frustrated, he started mapping out all the processes in their daily operations that needed optimization. Sadly, what was originally to be called “Handyman Estimator” never came to fruition. In 2014, Justin was indicted for drug trafficking conspiracy, which resulted in him spending the proceeding six years in federal lockup.
“I made a series of bad decisions. I justified my actions by telling myself it was only temporary and the money was needed to fund my legitimate businesses. I wasn’t thinking about who I could be potentially hurting, or the fact that I was contributing as part of a much bigger societal problem.” He continued, “It’s unfortunate that prison is what it took for me, but now I realize how foolish I was. I’ve learned that it’s not hard to raise money legally. And it’s a lot more rewarding knowing I’m living right and doing things by the book, and I am not sacrificing my integrity to get where I want to go in life.”
In fact, Justin and his Co-Founder & CTO, Roshan Sethia have announced their Reg CF Seed Round and have launched their Crowdfunding campaign on Wefunder, with a $3M valuation cap. “We’ve raised $52,000 in our first month. People see the value in what we’re doing and investors see the revenue potential. It’s big. People are trusting in our ability to make this a success. And that’s what we’re doing. We’ve found creative ways to monetize free. That means we don’t have to charge 80% of the market to use our software. We can literally give it away and still make boatloads of profit.”
With a team of tech guys and gals from Mumbai, India, this dynamic duo is pioneering the path to revolutionize the work for people who are not that vigilant on the technical front.
When he was asked what he loves most about his role, Justin shared, “What I like the most is hearing the feedback from people who are actually using Contractor+ in the field. I love it when we get calls talking about how much the app has improved their business, or how much they love what we are doing. It’s hard work starting something from virtually nothing. But hearing how much of an impact we are having in people’s lives is what keeps me going.”
Meanwhile, he also shared the truth about what he doesn’t like about the trade. Justin said, “A lot of contractors are still not very tech-friendly. A lot of people barely know how to use their smartphones, much less setup and configure an app to help them run their business. But this is helping us find ways to improve our user experience so it’s comprehensive and even the most untechnical contractors can successfully get up and going quickly. It’s a learning opportunity for sure, but we’re enjoying it.”
According to Justin, it’s not hard to create a product and list it for sale, but real satisfaction comes from actually adding value to people’s lives. By listening to what people need, and making it happen for them. “We’ve been listening to our users. We’ve already got three types of estimators depending on the type of job and client you’re working with. We’ve got built-in supply pricing from Home Depot and Lowes. We’ve got post-inspections. We even have an asset management solution built right in the app. We believe there’s no reason you should have to go to three, four or even five different software vendors and pay 10x too much to get all the tools you need to run your business. Contractor+ is already solving this problem for thousands of contractors.”
Justin has big dreams for Contractor+. He shared, “Our market penetration strategy is to appeal to the 80% of the market that our competitors are missing out on by not offering a ‘free for life’ plan. We’ve monetized free. We can literally build a billion dollar business by giving our service away for free on the front end. We want to essentially be the Tata Nano or the Aldi of the field service market. Then, once we’ve made our big impression, we will have the best enterprise level field service management solution ever created. We’re going after the smaller artisan contractors first, with a totally free solution. And of course, we’ve monetized ‘free’ accounts so there’s huge revenue potential even if our users never purchase a subscription. I believe this strategic positioning will help us earn the lions share of the Field Service Management market and give us the opportunity to serve the enterprise level clients with all the customizations and integrations they could dream of.”