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Craftwork Out To Modernize House Companies, Scores $6 Million Seed Spherical

Craftwork co-founder (left to right) Joey Skavroneck, Chief Growth Officer; Tim Griffin, CEO; Mike Bifulco, … [+] CTO; Suzanne Griffin, COO.


Silicon Valley VCs are typically more interested in funding pure-play software companies than those working to solve the problems of the physical world. But that is starting to change. Take, for example, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Craftwork, which just announced a $6 million seed round led by San Francisco-based Forerunner Ventures.

Craftwork has officially been in existence for less than a year and works to make it easier to plan and order home services like painting or home repairs while ensuring price transparency and quality.

The idea for Craftwork came about when Tim Griffin discovered the “joys” of home ownership and the challenges of home repair and painting. This entrepreneur's journey is based on my interview with Griffin and Bifulco.

Griffin and Bifulco had known each other for several years, having both been active in Charlotte's emerging startup community, but only had the opportunity to work together when they were between projects. Both of them were successful from their previous startups. Bifulco had successfully sold Smpl and Griffin had a wild ride merging his company Cloosiv with Odeko, another like-minded company in the space, before growing sales from $1 million to $150 million in 18 months .

“He and I went for walks a few times a week and talked about what interested us and what we wanted to work on, and eventually came to the conclusion that whatever we were building, we wanted to work together on it. We were both homeowners. We live maybe 500 meters apart. This was my first property, so I realized pretty immediately how terrible it was to own a house and find someone to help you work on it,” says Griffin.

They wondered why no one had been able to successfully modernize the huge but highly fragmented home services market, as it was clearly a problem for many. Although statistics are difficult to verify because the industry is constantly changing, it is estimated that there are approximately 2.5 million home service companies in the United States, generating over $500 billion in annual revenue and employing approximately 6 million people.

“I can order almost anything on my phone. But I can’t effectively hire a tradesman to come to my home and help with quality repairs and renovations,” says Bifulco. They then set about studying the industry and researching the market. The challenge was that software alone could not solve the problem. It was a people business and required both new software and new ways of thinking about the business.

“We realized there was an opportunity for a compromise between the two. And my background at Odeko led me to the concept of vertical integration: if we not only develop software, but also develop a model that then employs people and provides a sense of quality and brand associated with quality, we could really do something big scaled and finally decided to move forward in January of this year,” says Griffin.

To ensure a dedicated and well-trained workforce, the company hires its domestic workers, pays them a good wage for 40 hours of work per week regardless of whether they are assigned to a work project or not, and provides them with healthcare and equity – unprecedented Advantages in a company that has historically been a sole proprietorship.

The company was founded in January 2023 and launched to the public three months later. They were able to accelerate development and hire employees through a $4 million pre-seed round funded by Y Combinator and a group of experienced co-founders. Since its inception, the company has quickly taken off, growing 50 to 100% month-on-month and now employs over 30 people.

The positive results so far have enabled Craftwork to attract the next round of funding after just eleven months of existence. The company recently announced its $6 million seed round led by Forerunner Ventures and including Y Combinator, General Catalyst, Jeff Jordon, Managing Partner at 16z (Andreessen Horowitz), and Evan Moore, co-founder of Doordash , participate.

Griffin's wife, Suzanne, has a background in HR and operations at startups. She has experience growing it from 30 to 400 people in 24 months. “That’s their bread and butter. And we really leaned heavily on that model,” says Griffin. The company currently operates in the Charlotte area but has ambitious expansion plans across the country. While their current focus is on painting services, they plan to expand into other home services. “Our broader vision is to build the largest general contracting firm in the country and ultimately build a category-defining brand,” says Griffin.

The company sees an opportunity to build a consumer brand for homeowners that will become synonymous with home services. Bifulco is responsible for building the tech stack that will help them create both a national brand and a great customer experience. “We're approaching this with a product-first, tech-first approach and building a brand that revolves around a website that leverages all the modern things you get with SEO and targeted ad placement, and things like that give us a much bigger funnel to start influx of people. And then using the technology we develop helps us plan projects in such a way that we are confident that the prices we offer our customers will satisfy both us and the customers “The customer is satisfied”, says Bifulco. Completing the pricing and planning process online helps save operational costs by eliminating the need to send a person to provide estimates.

Bifulco grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut with an engineering degree. He used his skills to work for blue-chip tech companies like Microsoft, Google and Stripe, but his builder mentality led him to start several software companies on the side. Much of the software he developed focused on creating a community. Smpl, for example, is a software platform for managing shared working space companies.

“I think what drives me personally is the desire to achieve more with the little time I have, to build something bigger than myself, and to pass on the truly enormous privileges I have. “So it has always been something for me to build something that can help people build a stable life, a career that leads to the top, that makes homeowners happier and creates opportunities all around,” says Bifulco.

Griffin grew up in Massachusetts and attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he met his wife and co-founder Suzanne. After graduating with a degree in English, he wasn't sure where he wanted to go. He enjoyed the arts and had a keen interest in design, but found himself in the unusual role of a management consultancy, working on retail payment solutions for major retailers and Fortune 500 companies.

“While Mike was destined to become an entrepreneur, I came into it by accident. I had just started developing this idea that I thought the consulting firm I was working with at the time could use for a mobile payment solution, and the firm encouraged me to develop it myself. But I didn't know the first thing about starting a business. And it took years after that moment for me to even take that leap,” Griffin says. That leap took him and his wife to Charlotte, where he founded Cloosiv, a payment platform for independent coffee shops, and later co-founded Bifulco and Skavroneck Craftwork with his wife.

As for the future? “We believe this is a rare opportunity to build something big, not only to build a national home services brand, but also to create good-paying, stable jobs, eliminate the stigma associated with the trades and give people an opportunity for to give a rise to mobility,” concludes Griffin.

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