Suburbia is full of haunted houses. Houses haunted not with ghosts, but with piecemeal invoices and receipts and detailed specs about everything from the roof to the HVAC system. Terrifying.
CEO and Co-Founder Connor Strickland got the idea for DigiHome when his brother moved into his first new house last summer and needed to get some paint touch-ups. He ended up with splotches of mismatched color on his walls.
“That was really what kind of got my wheels turning,” Strickland says. “I was like, so, you’re trying to tell me this home is only six months old and you already lost the exact shade of paint that is on all three floors of this house? We’re in 2020. I have a background in computers and databases. There’s gotta be a way to digitize this.”
Raleigh-based DigiHome partners with builders, superintendents and accountants “from day one” and collects all the forms associated with building a house, from invoices to appliance information. They digitize the forms using the DigiHome software that then parses the information and stores it in a database unique to that property.
The day the homeowner closes on the house, they can open DigiHome’s mobile app and access all the information. The app also offers maintenance reminders and DigiHome-vetted providers. And, all home data is transferred from one home owner to the next, with all data constantly updated and logged.
DigiHome will make money from a revenue share from the builders and developers, who view the service as a selling point to woo potential home-buyers, and also by charging vendors to advertise on the app and bid on jobs from homeowners.
The company was ramping up quickly at the beginning of the year and on Feb. 27 recorded an episode of the Shark Tank-like podcast Startup Stage, which is produced by the Raleigh-based podcast startup Earfluence. Startup Stage features early-stage startups pitching to prominent Triangle investors. The episode featuring Strickland was released on June 9.
DigiHome kindled interest from several Second Stage investors and planned to launch at the Wake County Parade of Homes in October, but the coronavirus put those conversations on hold. Strickland is staying in touch, though, and he remains positive. He says that despite the pandemic-induced economic downturn the demand for new homes remains solid, in part due to low mortgage rates.
It’s in his genes
Strickland says he comes from a family that has spent years in the construction industry, from engineers to contractors, so he knows how builders can be slow to adopt new technologies.
He graduated from Appalachian State University in 2018—the same school where his dad went—with a double major in marketing and computer information systems. Strickland is proud of his alma mater, despite some he’s encountered who think the name lacks enough prestige.
Strickland recalls one conversation (among the many coffee meetings he set up post-graduation at age 21) when an investor was interested in the idea but had a hard time coming to terms with where he got his degree and his lack of an MBA.
“That’s been the one that stung the most,” Strickland said. “You love everything about it except where I chose to go to school for four years.”
Now 23 years old, Strickland uses those conversations as a chip on his shoulder. He sees his age as an asset, and he has intentionally built a young team (all with NC State connections) in an effort to give back to local students the same way others helped him when he was in college.
DigiHome’s two software developers just graduated from State in May. Before that, two sophomores designed the entire prototype from scratch. And Strickland is now talking to someone (a freshly minted NC State grad) who will be a data engineer.
“The pool here in the Triangle is so strong with talent,” he said, “and I said I would love to help build a portfolio, give them experience and also, hopefully, be able to bring them on full time when they graduate and not have to go out and try to find someone.”
Despite the current challenges, what keeps Strickland going is showing builders—including people he’s known his whole life—how this technology can help them.
“Seeing the outdated and slow-to-move-and-change industry kind of start wrapping their mind around this and seeing how this could actually help them,” Strickland said, “that’s been exciting.”