Sidekick: Home Improvement Made Easy
Alex Arata MBA ’06, Andrew Austin MBA ’06 and David Dombroski are the founders of Sidekick.
What is Sidekick?
Sidekick is a home improvement concierge service, acting as a trusted advisor and single point of contact for homeowners to manage all their home improvement needs. Sidekick has a simple mission – to inspire people to do more for their home by simplifying the process for homeowners and allowing contractors to focus on what they do best.
Where did the idea come from?
As with most startups, the idea of Sidekick started with a couple of homeowners and a contractor looking at the current home improvement space and saying, “there has to be a better way.” Dombroski ran a Concierge Handyman business for 10+ years that centered around the importance of high quality customer service supported by reliable, trusted contractors. This concierge approach was the seed for Sidekick. Combine this approach with Arata’s history building crowdsourced/community-based platforms (previously at MOFILM), and Austin’s experience with go-to-market growth strategies, and the potential to scale a business such as Sidekick became a reality.
What makes your business unique?
The home improvement industry is massive—estimated at $800 billion. Not surprisingly, the competitive landscape for home improvement services is a crowded one, with local players and national players trying to carve out a niche. Despite the players in the market, however, critical “white space” still exists.
The simple truth is that home improvement services are still a localized need, making it hard for even the most credible players nationally to succeed locally. At Sidekick, we believe success in this space hinges on two key characteristics: 1) a relationship-focus and 2) a hyper-local approach. This is why Sidekicks are in market, experienced contractors, acting as a trusted adviser for homeowners to deliver a simple, convenient approach to home improvement. In the end, our ambition is to turn the concept of a home improvement concierge into an affordable luxury for the broader market.
What are your goals for the future?
Sidekick sees future growth opportunities for the business falling into two primary categories:
Market Expansion: With every new market entered, Sidekick sharpens and refines its playbook for growth. An accompanying scorecard identifies key performance metrics that help make adjustments real time should certain areas be under-performing. This approach establishes a model that is more easily replicable in any given market and backed by proven results.
Franchising: Given the hyperlocal, relationship-focus of the Sidekick model, developing a franchising approach and leveraging motivated entrepreneurs is a viable means to scale the business in the right markets. The aforementioned playbook and scorecard would serve as foundation for the franchise materials needed to standardize a new market strategy and operations in the growing franchise market.
How did Babson help make Sidekick a reality?
Austin and Arata met while studying in the two-year MBA program at Babson (’04 – ’06). Interesting side note, Arata’s soon-to-be-wife, Melissa Huggard (M’06), was on Austin’s BCAP team in the fall of ’04 and it was through this connection that Arata met Austin. In fact, Austin was the officiant of Arata and Melissa’s wedding. Austin and Arata always talked about starting a business together post Babson and Sidekick is the result. In addition to the founder connection to Babson, one of our lead advisors is Dave Oksman ’03, currently VP of Marketing at Reebok, and our lead agency is Dark Roast Media out of New York, run by Joe Ziznewski ’02. Lastly, our seed investor is Dan Fireman MBA, ’00 of Fireman Capital. Suffice to say, our Babson connection is strong!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Below are some exciting data points and recent profiles on the business.
- Job Leads: 4x
- Conversion: 90%(9 out of 10 customers who approach Sidekick book jobs).
- Repeat Customers: 30%(3 out of 10 customers launch 2nd job in last 8 mo.).
- Referral: 40%(4 out of 10 customers come to Sidekick via word-of-mouth).
- All of these results currently from a small test market (“South Shore,” Hingham, MA and surrounding).
- Launched into second geography (“MetroWest,” 15+ towns including Newton/Wellesley and surrounding) and is on pace to grow the business 10x within 12 months.
Given Sidekick’s rate of growth, the team is working to raise additional capital in conjunction with Boston based crowdfunding portal Netcapital, pursuant to Section 4(a)(6) of the Securities Act (15 U.S.C. 77d(a)(6)). Investors can invest as little as $100 in exchange for shares in Sidekick and be a part of the growth.
The founding team relies on a range of experiences and backgrounds to drive the business forward.
ALEX ARATA: After graduating Babson’s MBA program in 2006, Arata took a role as a Strategy Consultant in Accenture’s Marketing Sciences division – the precursor to today’s Accenture Interactive – where he developed digital strategies for major brands including HP, Frito Lay and Chrysler. From there, he joined a former Accenture Managing Director as part of the founding team at MoFilm, a global creative crowd sourcing platform taking aim at reinventing the traditional advertising agency model. MoFilm sold in the summer of 2015, allowing him to use his experience building community-based businesses to start Sidekick in 2016. His focus at Sidekick is on strategy, marketing and business development.
ANDREW AUSTIN: After graduating Babson’s MBA program in 2006, Austin worked at The Home Depot’s headquarters as a member of its Business Leadership Program, focusing on Store Operations. Most recently, he spent the past ten years at Reebok International as its head of Business Planning, responsible for implementing long-term growth plans for all Reebok’s international markets traveling throughout Dubai, India, China, Russia, Japan, Korea, Europe and South America. Austin left Reebok in 2016 and has since joined Sidekick focusing on new market strategy and operations.
DAVE DOMBROSKI: An accomplished musician, handyman and entrepreneur, Dombroski started and operated his own concierge handyman business for the past 10 years –providing the seed idea for current day Sidekick. Dombroski is a skilled tradesman with a vision for heightened customer service. In his current role at Sidekick, he is the “face of the company” and oversees all full-time field Sidekicks, training and workforce community development.