As more millennials and Generation Z families buy homes, one Raleigh startup is looking to help this tech-savvy generation of new homeowners. HomeCloud, founded by George Kirkland and Chan Namgong, will launch this winter with an online dashboard for new homeowners to help them manage their home by storing all of the information relating to appliances and systems and providing actionable insights and recommendations based on that information.
Prior to HomeCloud, Kirkland co-founded RaiseMe in 2012, an edtech platform that helps high school students find scholarships. RaiseMe was acquired by CampusLogic in 2020. Kirkland is leveraging some of his payout from the successful exit into product development for HomeCloud.
One of the first things Kirkland and his wife did when they moved themselves and their two toddlers from San Francisco to Raleigh—he’s a Durham native—in March of last year was buy a home for the first time. (The young couple had rented an apartment when they lived in San Francisco.) Kirkland said he felt overwhelmed by the idea of owning a home and not knowing the first thing about how to manage it, a feeling which was only exacerbated when they were handed a manila folder and binder containing every piece of information on the house.
“I was shocked to be handed all of this information in a hard-copy format,” Kirkland said. “I found myself reaching for my phone, wondering why isn’t this information on an app?”
With HomeCloud, Kirkland aims to transform the home inspection process and simplify homeownership by digitizing home data. So when people move into a new home, instead of being handed a manila folder of documents or PDFs of inspection reports, they are sent a link to log onto their HomeCloud account where they can see all of their home information.
By tracking data on a home’s appliances and systems, the HomeCloud web app can do things like send reminders to change fridge filters or send push notifications when a fridge is getting old and likely to fail, Kirkland said. The app also notifies when systems like water, heating and cooling are in need of repair as well as when the roof panels or windows need to be replaced.
“Part of the problem now is because this information is in a binder, it’s not easily accessible,” Kirkland said. “So when something breaks, for instance, a lot of times people don’t look in the binder for the manual. With HomeCloud, because we have all of this information and manuals, we can provide some really amazing insights and can put the home maintenance process on autopilot for homeowners.”
In addition to notifying homeowners of a potential problem or inefficiency, HomeCloud will close the loop by also connecting homeowners to third-party service vendors and home-repair companies to fix problems, Kirkland said. In fact, Kirkland’s vision is for HomeCloud to be completely free to the consumer and monetized through partnerships with insurance companies and service providers.
Sustainability is part of the mission
Part of HomeCloud’s mission is to help homeowners reduce their carbon footprint, Kirkland said. Older homes especially consume a lot of greenhouse gases, and HomeCloud provides recommendations to improve a house’s energy efficiency, such as by replacing an aging furnace or utilizing solar panels.
Also, by allowing third-party vendors like Duke Energy to access HomeCloud data, they can quickly provide an assessment on a home’s energy efficiency, a process which currently requires them to come into a house to collect data, Kirkland said.
The HomeCloud team consists of Kirkland, Namgong and a product development team consisting of engineers, an architect, a designer and a project team lead. HomeCloud will launch in November with a beta trial of homeowners in the Triangle and branch out later to surrounding housing markets in North Carolina, Kirkland said.
Kirkland said the timing of HomeCloud aligns with trends happening in the housing market. The younger generations that are buying homes are not only used to having a digital, one-click experience—from ordering food on DoorDash to getting a ride on Uber—but are also more likely to have two working partners and no clear house manager, Kirkland said.
“It’s not delineated the way it was for my parents’ generation,” he said. “It’s really a shared responsibility, and it’s something that people don’t have time for. So it needs to be streamlined. We’re really building HomeCloud for that next generation of young homeowners.”