The last year has wrought uneven impact on business sectors. All things software are thriving, especially communications, entertainment and remote work. Conversely, anything that involves delivering atoms rather than bits (unless it’s food) is challenged. Local SMBs are mostly in that boat.
We’ve spent ample time evaluating where various SMB verticals fit on that sliding scale, most notably restaurants’ unfortunate position. But what about home services? While you can change your local dining habits, your broken sink still needs to be fixed. This has sustained home-services demand in 2020.
But that’s not to say that it isn’t challenged. Like several other areas of the economy, Covid-inflicted challenges have compelled home services pros to formulate new practices to align with things like social distancing. That obviously presents challenges when you’re entering peoples’ homes.
This has caused the sector — like many others — to accelerate its digital transformation and pick up new tools to operate effectively. This includes Streem’s AR approach, as we’ve examined. Another more traditional example is Jobber, which provides software for SMB home-services pros to organize jobs.
The Edmonton based Jobber raised $60 million in new funding this week led by Summit Partners, with participation from OMERS Ventures, Version One Ventures, and Tech Pioneers Fund. Omers Ventures is where our friend and frequent guest Michael Yang serves as managing partner.
Specifically, Jobber accommodates very small businesses (VSBs) such as sole traders and shops. It epitomizes SMB SaaS in providing a range of operational tools (as opposed to marketing tools) for SMBs. That includes appointment scheduling, billing & payments… and, yes, marketing as well.
The startup already has more than 100,000 SMB customers across 47 countries according to TechCrunch. It also serves 50 subcategories of home services — everything from plumbing to landscaping to electrical work to cleaning. The company recognizes that there’s lots of category growth still to come as it expands.
This of course isn’t the first player to digitize the end-to-end operational processes for home services pros. HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack and several others have been serving this need in various ways for years. So why is the time right for another market entrant and a hefty funding round to validate its trajectory?
Part of this comes down to secular shifts such as digital transformation among consumers. This accelerates as digital natives continue to phase into the adult population. The same dynamic occurs on the provider end, as younger digital-savvy individuals phase into the ranks of SMB proprietorship.
Sign of the Times
Overlaying these secular accelerants are recent inflections in digital transformation. That brings us back to the point about Covid-driven digital adoption. Notably, this could have lasting effects after the Covid-era recedes. Service providers have gotten the taste in their mouths for new digital tools.
This could mean that the digitization of several SMB verticals is suddenly a larger opportunity, hence new entrants like Jobber. The question is if we see the same expansion in other verticals such as tools that serve restaurants. Lightspeed is in the process of a rollup to own that expanding space.
What verticals will come next? It could be that there’s a correlation between the degree of Covid-inflected pain in a given vertical, and its magnitude of digital adoption. We’ll keep watching for how the next few months shape up across the broadly-defined SMB SaaS sector. There will be a lot of action.