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HomePainter offers estimates for painting projects online

During his time studying business at Iowa State University, Jacob McClarnon was also running his own residential painting business called Painter’s Promise. While running the business, Mclarnon consistently ran into the same problem—the inefficient and time-consuming process of in-house estimates for paint projects.

“I quickly came across the fact that there are many issues on both sides of the industry that all really begin with the inefficient process of scheduling in-person estimates,” Mclarnon said. “In-person estimates are a pain for contractors because it takes hours of labor to maybe get the job booked. And it’s annoying for homeowners to have people come out and provide you with those estimates.”

Mclarnon’s solution was to build a platform that would allow customers to get estimates online without having to send an estimator to their home. To help him build the platform, Mclarnon teamed up with Anthony House, a software engineering student at Iowa State University who owns a business called The Design GUIs.

“Once we began development, we quickly found that this idea could not just benefit my company but companies everywhere,” Mclarnon said.

That platform quickly turned into what is now known as HomePainter, an online subcontracting platform for both homeowners and painters.

Homeowners answer a series of questions about what they need painted such as how many rooms, size of the rooms and paint color. They then receive a quoted price. If the homeowner accepts the price, HomePainter then selects a vetted painter for the project.

The duo spent ten weeks last summer in the Pappajohn Center’s CYstarters accelerator program and were recently accepted into the ISU Startup Factory’s sixth cohort.

Just last week HomePainter won first place at the Ivey Business Plan Competition and took home $15,000. The international competition had over eighteen teams of undergraduate and graduate students from the United States, Mexico, and Canada compete in several rounds of presentations.

HomePainter will officially launch their platform this week at the Des Moines Home & Garden Expo. The platform will initially be available in the Greater Des Moines area with plans to expand into other cities in late 2019.

“Our goal is to prove the concept in the area, bring in revenue and show that we can do this elsewhere,” Mclarnon said. “By the end of the summer, we’d like to start scaling to other Midwestern cities like Minneapolis, Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago.”

Previous coverage

ISU Startup Factory announces twelve new teams for its sixth cohort -Jan. 23, 2019

Middle Bit: LunchSox and HomePainter win the 90 Seconds for $900 Business Pitch Competition -Nov. 9, 2018

HomePainter offers estimates for painting projects online | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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