Like many “solopreneurs,” home service professionals must strike a balance between work and managing a business. Topline Pro wants to take some of that burden off the shoulders of professionals so they can focus on customers.
New York-based Topline Pro, formerly ProPhone, does this by using generative artificial intelligence to give these companies a way to be discovered, build trust with customers and generate repeat customers.
The interface creates a custom website with search engine optimization that can go live the same day. It shows the professional’s business, including collecting online reviews, scheduling bookings, and accepting payments. Meanwhile, the AI generates additional content, including local listings and automating social media content.
Nick Ornitz, co-founder and CEO, started the company with Shannon Kay after meeting at business school. The inspiration for Topline Pro came from Ornitz’s siblings, who are among the 5 million people who run service businesses from landscaping to painting to cleaning and general contracting. Speaking with them and with home improvement retailers he had previously worked with, he and Kay realized how much these businesses depended on pen and paper.
“If you talk to a homeowner, they were disappointed or frustrated with the experience, and when you talk to the business owner, they’re doing their best to do the job, but also to run the business,” Ornitz told australiabusinessblog.com. “That just seemed like a really big opportunity to me.”
Their original idea, then called ProPhone, connected plumbers with homeowners via video chat. The co-founders even went through Y Combinator as part of the Winter 2021 batch. As they accelerated the business, many of ProPhone’s plumber customers said they liked the video calls but needed more jobs and didn’t know how to grow their business beyond word of mouth.
That’s when Ornitz and Kay switched to Topline Pro. They launched the current subscription product, which starts at $75 per month, in January 2022. In 10 months, the company generated more than $25 million in job requests from more than 1,000 monthly subscriber companies in nearly all 50 states, Ornitz said.
Topline isn’t alone in helping professionals manage their business digitally. In fact, this is becoming a popular area for startups to play in and for investors to collect. In July, for example, Finli, which developed a mobile-first payment management system for businesses, raised $6 million.
Earlier this year, Zuper, a provider of field service management and customer engagement productivity tools, raised $13 million. Before that, Fuzey raised $4.5 million in seed funding for its “digital one-stop shop” for small businesses and independent contractors, while Puls Technologies raised $15 million for its mobile app that connects merchants to on-demand home repair services.
Ornitz says his company is different in a number of ways: It uses GPT-3 to automate unlimited multi-page websites and administrative tasks. It is also not a marketplace and thus its customers can be discovered online directly by homeowners so they can own the relationships without that middle tier.
Meanwhile, Topline Pro today announced $5 million in seed funding, led by Bonfire Ventures, and including TMV, BBG Ventures and a group of angel investors such as Squire co-founder Songe LaRon.
Plans for the new capital include developing additional applications for the generative AI; for example, applications that help professionals with their SEO, content and blog updates and that help professionals with their marketing. Ornitz also expects to expand the company’s 12 employees in engineering, product and customer success.
“We want to make sure the pro is discovered by as many people as possible,” he added. “Once you find that pro, we want to make sure the homeowner has an easier process to book with them and pay with them as well. We know that word of mouth is still the strongest form of marketing and we want to expand that.”