By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
A concept that Johnson City native Edwin Williams started developing in St. Louis is one of the new start-ups in Northeast Tennessee’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The company’s name is Perserbid, and it evolved from Williams’ earlier effort along with a challenge that his mother was facing trying to find a contractor for some work on her home.
He had launched GetFit Gadgets in 2011 as a vehicle for individuals to find the most innovative gadgets available to improve their workouts. It actually designed the equipment.
While the start-up failed, Williams has not given-up on the overall concept. So, after returning to his hometown in 2014, he began exploring the challenge his mother was facing and decided there was a different application for his original idea.
“I got input individually from both contractors and homeowners,” Williams said. He also pitched the idea to the Johnson City Homebuilders Association, seeking further input to improve his concept.
“We’re Beta testing it in the Tri-Cities area now,” he says, adding that he hopes to expand to Knoxville by mid-year and Asheville at a later date.
In essence, Perserbid is an online marketplace.
“We take the guesswork out of finding the perfect contractor for your job,” Williams says on the start-up’s webpage. “Post your project and wait for the bids to roll in. Compare the offers you receive from contractors to find the right fit. It’s that simple. Once the job is complete, rate your contractor and upload photos to help other homeowners find the right person for their job. With our secure escrow and rating system, you’ll be safe in your search for the ideal contractor.”
He adds that the bidding process is very secure and the proprietary information held confidential.
“Only the homeowners see the bids,” Williams says. “The contractor proposes a payment schedule. We hold the money in escrow and dispense it as scheduled and authorized by the homeowner.”
The goal is to find contractors to perform all types of work. Perserbid encourages electricians, painters, heating and air conditioning technicians, carpenters, home inspectors, maintenance pros, cleaners, remodelers, handymen, landscapers, and plumbers to sign-up.
The process to receive bids starts with contractors completing basic information and Williams following-up to verify the accuracy of the application.
What’s the business model? The contractor pays a three percent fee, while the homeowner pays a six percent surcharge on the agreed upon contract price for the work.
Williams is working out of the Spark Plaza co-working space in Johnson City. He says Perserbid has been funded thus far by “friends and family,” and he is seeking angel or venture monies. The additional capital will fund user acquisition and growth including adding an app to the existing webpage.
“Our core site will be for homes, but I want to expand APIs (application programming interfaces) so other business sectors can use it,” he adds. “That’s in the future.”