In creating a dream home, there can be many obstacles in the way. Durham-based startup Higharc wants to help bring that dream home to life faster and cheaper.
With experience in advanced manufacturing, Higharc CEO and Founder Marc Minor was moving to the Triangle in early 2018 and looking to build a custom house when he came up with the idea for the startup.
“I was pretty surprised at just how terrible the processes are, the lack of tools that are available,” Minor said. “There are a ton of things that are going on in advanced manufacturing that can be applied directly to housing and the way homes are built and designed. So I started the company to do that.”
Founded in 2018, the SaaS company automatically designs homes based on the input of a homebuilder. Using automation, the software generates a collection of options for the builder in 3D, along with how much the home will cost and what materials are necessary, thereby significantly easing the process.
“You’re going to pay through the nose and wait weeks and weeks and weeks to do that with the way things are today,” Minor said. “It’s very inefficient and expensive for builders. So our system sort of does it for you.”
In two pilot programs this year focusing on production-style building—for instance, builders designing a new housing development with multiple homes—Higharc is working with 10 to 15 builders. Last year, Higharc worked with 12 homebuyers and over 35 builders while focused on custom-home building. In a 2018 seed round, Higharc raised over $4.5 million from the likes of Founder Collective, Javelin Venture Partners and Lux Capital.
Going forward, Higharc sees the bigger opportunity in production-style building and has thus moved in that direction.
“Our goal ultimately is to transform communities so that they’re more viable long-term,” Minor said.
In terms of how the coronavirus-affected economy will play a role on Higharc’s future, Minor said Higharc is not currently in the direct line of fire, though he predicts many companies will see deferred revenue for a few months. Minor said that thankfully even when there’s a shelter in place, home-building has been included as an essential business.
As an early-stage business, Minor said Higharc is still working on product-market fit. While they’ve zeroed in on homebuilders above individual homebuyers as their primary target audience—especially because they build at volume—the strategy also faces its challenges.
“What we’re doing is an extraordinarily difficult technology problem, not to mention kind of a market challenge,” Minor said. “Builders generally are much more conservative when it comes to purchasing technology. So we’ve got a long road ahead of us. But over the next two years what I hope we’ll start to see are builders really producing homes that are better and are more customized to buyers, and doing it in a way that saves them money.”