Like many “solopreneurs,” home service professionals must balance running a business with doing the work. Topline Pro wants to take some of the burden off the shoulders of professionals so they can focus on customers.
New York-based Topline Pro, formerly Prophone, does this by using artificial intelligence to help these businesses get found, build trust among customers, and generate repeat customers.
The interface creates a custom website with search engine optimization that can go live the same day. It features the professional business including collecting online reviews, booking and accepting payments. Meanwhile, AI will generate more content, including location listings and automate social media content.
Nick Ornitz, co-founder and CEO, started the company with Shannon Kay after meeting in business school. The inspiration for Topline Pro came from the Ornitz siblings, among the 5 million people who run service-based companies, from landscaping to painting to cleaning and general contracting. When he and Kay talked to them and other home improvement retailers they had worked with in the past, they realized how reliant these businesses were on pen and paper.
“When you talk to a homeowner, they’re upset or frustrated with the experience, and when you talk to a business owner, they’re trying their best to get the job done, but they also run the business,” Ornitz told TechCrunch. “This seemed like a great opportunity.”
Their first idea, then called Prophone, connected plumbers with homeowners via video chat. The co-founders went through Y Combinator as part of the Winter 2021 batch. However, in speeding up the business, many of Prophone’s plumber clients said they loved video calls, but needed more work and didn’t know how to grow their business outside of word of mouth.
That’s when Ornitz and Kay headed to Topline Pro. They launched their current subscription product starting at $75 per month in January 2022. In 10 months, the company says it has generated more than $25 million in business inquiries from more than 1,000 monthly subscription businesses in all 50 states.
Topline is not alone in helping professionals manage their businesses digitally. Indeed, this is becoming a place for startups to play and investors to flock to. For example, in July, Finley, which developed a mobile-first payment management system for businesses, raised $6 million.
Earlier this year, Zupper, which provides field service management and customer engagement productivity tools, raised $13 million. Before that, Fuzzi raised $4.5 million in seed funding for a “digital one-stop shop” for small businesses and independent contractors, and Pulse Technologies raised $15 million for a mobile app that connects merchants with on-demand home repair services.
Ornit’s company is different in a few ways, using GPT-3 to automate unlimited multi-page websites and administrative tasks. Also, since it is not a marketplace, the customers can directly contact the homeowners online so that they can own their relationship without that middle layer.
Meanwhile, today Topline Pro announced $5 million in seed funding led by Bonfire Ventures, and including angel investors such as TMV, BBG Ventures and Squire co-founder Song Laron.
Plans for the new capital include developing more applications for generative AI; For example, apps that help professionals with SEO, content and blog optimization as well as marketing. Ornitz is expected to join the company’s 12 employees in engineering, product and customer success.
He added: “We want to make sure the professor is being reached by as many people as possible.” “Once they find a professional, we want to make sure the homeowner has an easy process to sign up with them and also pay with them. We know word of mouth is still the strongest form of marketing, and we want to increase that.