A startup company that aims to revolutionise the way that homeowners buy a new boiler, making it 'as easy as ordering a takeaway meal', has raised £1.9m in funding
Hometree has raised the funding from four venture capital investors and is launching in the boiler installation market initially, but is focused on building a next-generation energy company that can provide a range of energy efficient services and products to homeowners, challenging the 'Big Six' energy companies.
Using registered and vetted heating installers across the South East of the UK, HomeTree wants to bring the ease of e-commerce - speed, price transparency, endorsement from customers - to this traditional trade. The hybrid online/offline business contracts directly with consumers, offering them a painless way to get a boiler installed, in what is a mostly offline market.
The company chose to begin by focusing on the boiler market because, it said, buying a boiler is one of the most expensive and difficult home repairs that people face. New boiler installations is largely an offline market, with poor price transparency and requiring multiple tradespeople visits to the home.
As part of Hometree's offering, homeowners can receive a video call with a Hometree-employed, Gas Safe registered engineer via their mobile phone or smart device. This means consumers do not have to take time out of their busy schedules to undertake face-to-face appointments.
Hometree offers a fixed rate for installation, all the parts except the boiler itself, 24/7 communication throughout the project and a post-installation review as part of its fixed price. The customer can choose the boiler model they want and will be charged at cost.
The company's online platform will enable homeowners to book appointments and installation dates, receive quotes, pay online, check if they are suitable for finance and receive reminders about annual servicing dates.
Hometree will offer a choice of boilers from brands including Worcester Bosch, 10-year guarantees, finance options through Shawbrook Bank, annual servicing and a range of smart thermostats such as Hive and Nest. The average price of new boiler installations on Hometree is £2,250, below the industry average price of £2,300 (according to Energy Saving Trust figures).
Simon Phelan, Co-Founder and CEO, said: "Much like Eve and Purplebricks have upended their industries of mattresses and estate agency, we intend to disrupt the heating industry with best practices from e-commerce, fair and transparent prices and a great brand. We will use this strong foundation as a springboard into the broader home energy space, re-thinking how energy companies interact with consumers from the ground up."
In the long-term, Hometree's founders aim to play a leading role in reinventing the home energy model for the 21st century - helping homeowners reduce their energy consumption, while providing safe and reliable products and services quickly and easily. The business is building on current trends in the energy sector: lack of trust in the big six energy providers, the connected home, distributed generation and the desire for renewable energy and sustainable products. As an indicator of how these disruptive trends are becoming more commercially attractive, Hometree is one of the first energy companies in Europe to raise primarily tech-focused venture capital.
Co-Founders Simon Phelan and Andreu Tobella have experience working in private equity and climate change projects around the world and across the British Isles. Both are passionate about the need for British homes to become more sustainable when they replace or upgrade
heating systems and have identified many points where they believe the energy retailing sector can become more efficient, using online tools.
More information can be found online at www.hometree.co.uk.