Singapore expatriate Jamey Merkel felt like he was taken advantaged of after a bathroom refurbishment gone wrong.
Following hours of searching for a contractor, he received wildly different quotations ranging between $5,000 to $15,000 for the exact same job.
“A quote was given on the phone even without even a visit,” he said.
And when a contractor was finally secured, it didn’t do its job properly — measuring some custom glass panels incorrectly. The mistake cost Jamey extra money to fix.
That was when he felt a pressing need to start Kluje, a web platform for home contractors to bid for jobs. Jamey’s decision was backed up by numbers too: Complaints against home renovation contractors have been on the rise in Singapore, jumping to 1,532 in 2012.
Kluje was launched to the public this month, and it has already registered over 9,000 contractors while listing another 4,000 contractors that did not sign up with the platform.
It offers a free 30-day trial for contractors, with a monthly membership fee starting from S$19.99 ($16) following thereafter. Contractors are also charged for every lead they get, starting from $1. They will get a profile page on the site, which can display ratings from Kluje users, qualifications, and photos of previous work.
Home owners, meanwhile, can use the site for free. For them, Kluje involves a three-step process: they first post ‘jobs to be done’ on the website free-of-charge. As many as three contractors can bid on them, after which the homeowner will pick the one they like.
The startup currently has an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Gilcrux Holdings, which is run by serial entrepreneur John Fearon, best known for launching DropmySite, a cloud backup service for websites that has expanded to email and soon will venture into mobile data.
Kluje’s major test in the coming months will be whether it can stand out from the existing platforms in Singapore featuring home renovation services.
InSing and Renovation.sg operate business directories with customer ratings, while Qeeple takes a visual scrapbook approach with its website. Then there’s Home and Decor, which places a strong emphasis on interior design contractors.
Kluje will be focusing first on Singapore before taking on the region. Merkel says:
The home improvement market can only grow due to increasing populations, large expat communities, and increasing wealth not only in Singapore, but the region as well.
(Editing by Willis Wee)
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