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Screenshot of HomeCloud website
by Jason Parker — April 22, 2022
DURHAM – HomeCloud, a software startup that provides a certified, digital record of a home’s condition to enable homeowners to more effectively maintain their home, has raised $250,000 in new funding, months before the company plans to raise a larger fundraising round.
That’s according to the company’s founder and CEO, George Kirkland, who grew up in Durham.
The company raised $500,000 last year before it launched, from friends and family, Kirkland noted, and in the intervening time period, other investors and connections approached him about investing in the business he was building.
“We got to the point where I was either going to go out and raise an institutional round, a much bigger round, or raise a little bit more to get us to that next level,” said Kirkland.  “We’ve got a growing team, and we’re spending most of that money on product development.”
This phase of a startup, and this one is Kirkland’s second, is about maintaining or accelerating momentum, he told WRAL TechWire.
“What I decided to do was, that I had a lot of people that had come to me, they wanted to invest in the company, but if I raised an institutional round, they wouldn’t be able to do that,” he said.
“Let’s maintain this momentum, let’s allow all of these people who have reached out about investing to get in on a convertible note,” said Kirkland.  “I do expect to be going back out to the market in the next three months or so.”
According to an SEC filing, there were 10 investors in the round.  Kirkland noted in an interview that five of these were new investors, and five investors had previously funded the company during the first round.
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After launching, growing, and ultimately selling his first company, RaiseMe, an education technology startup that had been based in California, Kirkland and his family decided that living in a small California apartment during the first few weeks of the global COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t an optimal living scenario.
They decided they’d move, temporarily, to the Triangle, with plans to stay a few weeks.
But then they never returned to their apartment, Kirkland told WRAL TechWire.
Instead, they decided to buy a house in Durham.  It was April 2020, and everything in the economy was pretty much on pause, Kirkland said.  But they were able to find, locate, and go through the home buying process.
“I want to see more people owning homes,” Kirkland told WRAL TechWire.  “There’s a huge trend, and part of it is the Raleigh market, with people moving here.”
He’s aware the market in the Triangle is scorching hot, with median home sale prices rising dramatically since his family bought their home.
“Real estate prices are moderate enough, they’re expensive but they’re not Austin prices,” said Kirkland.  “It’s one of those markets that people feel comfortable with the price point, they can get early traction, they can move here and bring their families, they can recruit here locally from the universities,” he said.  “During the pandemic, a lot of these people decided to move back.”
Like other entrepreneurs who chose the Triangle as the place to move a business or to start a new one, Kirkland’s latest venture, HomeCloud, is somewhat of a result of the home buying process he and his family experienced.
“I moved here, and bought my first house, and I sat down at my desk and looked around the house and asked myself what I would do now,” Kirkland said.
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“I had barely ever changed a lightbulb,” Kirkland said.  “I’ve always done most things using an app, and I found myself reaching for my phone.”
But there wasn’t an app to manage an entire house, or at least not one that was simple to use without significant input from a homeowner or resident, Kirkland said.
“An app to manage your house is only as effective as the information you put into it,” Kirkland said he learned during this preliminary period of homeownership.  “But you know what, there was somebody recently who went through my house and gathered all of this information.”
That was the home inspector that the family paid during the home buying process to inspect and investigate the home and its parts, Kirkland said.
“I wished they’d given it to me in an application, but instead, they gave it to me in a printed report,” Kirkland said.  “But what if, instead of this process when I bought a home, there was someone who went into the home, gathered all of this data, and given it to me in an app?”
That was the genesis of HomeCloud, Kirkland said.  “We take the intelligence of a home inspector, and put it into an app,” he said.
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Beyond accessing relevant and accurate data, said Kirkland, HomeCloud also provides homeowners a service, where the onboarding process and data collection process can also be informative for homeowners who choose to use the product.
Plus, homeowners will then receive all of their home’s data, evaluated by machine learning, and stored and archived for future reference, said Kirkland.
Kirkland said that in researching the company, he found that about 80% of a home inspector’s report wouldn’t change over time.
“We’ve created a system of record,” said Kirkland.  “The last full inspection that you’ll ever have to get.”
Think about the appliances in your home right now.  Do you know where to find the serial numbers or the user manual?  Happen to know off the top of your head when to replace your water heater?
HomeCloud can assist with those types of requests, said Kirkland.
“We use some computer vision and AI-based analysis, but for the most part, we actually employ home inspectors, and they review pictures remotely, and annotate the pictures,” said Kirkland.
“What’s nice with HomeCloud is that we create an app with all of your information in it, but that data is shareable,” he said, providing examples of when an electrician needs a picture of a panel, or when a homeowner might benefit from an energy assessment from Duke Energy to identify areas to make a home more energy efficient.
“It’s an API for home data,” said Kirkland.  “All your home data is in one place.”
“There is a lot of opportunity here,” Kirkland said.  One avenue that the company has found success is in helping homeowners who plan to list a home for sale pre-certify the property for potential buyers.
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