Why We Invested in Topline Pro
Jim Andelman and Tyler Churchill
October 31, 2022
We are excited to announce that Topline Pro has raised $5M in Seed funding led by Bonfire Ventures, with participation by TMV, BBG Ventures, and notable angel investors including Squire Co-Founder LaRon, after taking part in the Y Combinator Winter 2021 batch.
Co-founders - Nick Ornitz, CEO and Shannon Kay, CPO
Ever since Shopify became a household name the “Shopify-for-this” positioning has been used ad nauseum. However, as modern technology has become easier to build, distribute and use, we at Bonfire have continued to think about what this means for the long tail of businesses who currently stitch together tools like Excel, Venmo and in many cases, pen and paper, to manage operations and grow their business.
This focused our thinking and posed the question - within the broader SMB landscape, what types of businesses are best positioned to benefit from the Shopify approach?
That is, enablement with a robust set of tools to quickly launch a digital storefront that can drive new business and manage that flow. Most of these businesses are services based, not product based, which means a different model for commercialization, payment and transactions, recurring relationships, etc. These businesses also fall under a variety of business models and sub-industries that each have unique needs, dynamics, seasons, etc.
We reached the conclusion this would be a hard platform to build horizontally, at least at first. Which is why we were so excited to have the opportunity to invest in Topline Pro, a company where its founders Nick and Shannon are laser-like focused on the home services industry which so far has yielded really exciting (but early) results.
They are leveraging Generative AI in ways that are uniquely powerful for their customers, who want to expand their brands and digital footprints but don’t necessarily have the means or sophistication to do so. Topline Pro’s platform harnesses this technology to allow small business owners to generate high quality content across their websites, social presences, Google and Facebook, etc. with incredible ease. Their focus on the home services vertical allows them to rapidly and continuously evolve and improve their technology in ways that are immediately relevant across their customer base. It’s a compelling flywheel effect that has their customer base really excited.
What does the company do?
Topline Pro uses Generative AI to produce a complete and robust online presence in minutes for home service providers to showcase their businesses. The platform also enables online bookings and scheduling, reputation management, social media syncing and payments.
Who are their customers?
Topline Pro is built specifically for home services professionals such as landscapers, general contractors, painters and cleaners who want to get discovered online, build trust, and generate repeat customers.
What is the problem they are solving?
Every business needs a digital presence and the businesses that will succeed are the ones with a rich online presence that enables them to be found, trusted, and used. Home service pros are busy and are not in front of their computers all day. They likely don’t have the time or knowhow to create their own websites, even through DIY platforms. Most of them start off with a Facebook page, but are constrained to how far they can grow their business without broadening their presence. Marketplaces don’t give the pro control over their own customers or growth and service based agencies are expensive.
What are their product features?
- AI driven robust online presence within 24 hours
- Booking management
- Online review management
- Photo management and multi platform syncing
- Done-For-You Social Media posting
- Automated content updates
- Customer Relationship Management Hub
- Online Payments
- In-network Referrals
- Text and email campaigns
- End Homeowner portal
- Loyalty programs
Where did we hear about the company?
Two deliberate areas of focus for us are SMB software and vertical software. Topline Pro fits into both of those areas of interest so we actually discovered the company through our own research and reached out to them.
What did their customers have to say about the product?
When we spoke to their customers during due-diligence their feedback was 1) how easy it was to use 2) how proud they are of the online presence that was built for them and 3) that it very clearly and obviously drove incremental business for them. All wonderful things we like to hear. Their own online reviews (over 100 accross review sites, all five stars) are a testament to the strength of the solution and their customers’ satisfaction.
What’s their team like?
Co-founders Nick and Shannon are both engineers. Shannon has prior experience in product analytics at Wayfair and Nick was with McKinsey, focused on Home Services. They met at Harvard Business School and dropped out after their first year to focus on this problem.
We really appreciated that they both have a zero drama competence. They don’t wait around to hire someone with a particular expertise; they figure it out themselves and just start doing it.
We were really impressed by their no nonsense bias for action - they take responsibility for their own results, have incredible rigor around data and feedback loops, and are constantly exploring new ways to expand and improve the platform based on a deep empathy for their user. Everything we threw at them during due diligence they nailed.
Nick and Shannon have also done an incredible job hiring A+ talent across GTM, Product and Engineering roles to level up each function and allow them to scale as founders. It’s a testament to their ability to evangelize a vision and get incredible people to join their mission. We couldn’t be more excited about the talent they continue to bring on!
Where did the idea for the company come from?
Nick and Shannon initially founded Dwelling, a solution that connected home owners to home service pros for consultations over video chat. What they learned is that pros want jobs, not consultations, and were not happy with the existing marketplaces as their primary source of new business. They realized that service providers were not taking advantage of the tools available for them to be found and selected. This informed their pivot to Topline Pro - a solution that helps services pros acquire direct business fast.
What is the market?
The home service industry is a $600B market with over 5M home service providers and more than 70% of these providers have not yet developed digital storefronts. We’ve seen time and time again that the folks that show up first in these markets become the “aggregators” and, in turn, charge high fees for their services. Over time, businesses want to take control of their own online presence, engage with their own customers and community directly, and own their media instead of renting it.
ChowNow is a good example of this. Doordash, Uber Eats, etc. charge fees that are too high to be sustainable for independent restaurants, which is why we invested in ChowNow to enable restaurants to take control over their own destiny and offer online ordering themselves. We’re seeing a similar dynamic here. Lead generation companies like Home Advisor, Thumbtack, and Angie’s List often charge hundreds of dollars for leads that may or may not be of high quality, and they share those leads with 4-5 pros at a time. Whereas if a prospect is organically sourced by your own online presence, it’s much more likely to close and you are not paying by the click. It’s a dramatically better value proposition.
We are delighted to join Nick, Shannon and the entire team at Topline Pro to the Bonfire family, and are excited to support the Company’s growth.