Friday, July 28, 2023

Announcing: Thumbtack Home Repair Estimates

I'm thrilled to share that Majordomo's Domoreport is becoming 
Thumbtack Home Repair Estimates.

Six years ago, my co-founder and I set out to help homeowners take better care of their homes (hence the name "Majordomo," which is the chief steward of a large household). We road the typical start-up roller coaster with big wins, tough trials, plenty of pivots, and now, handing off this project to new owners.

The Path To Providing Repair Estimates

Our first product evaluated the condition of a home. The idea was to help you create a maintenance and project plan. It had two problems: 1) creating the report is labor intensive, and 2) it left a "now what" feeling because it didn't include the next steps. Furthermore, people who already cared about the home's condition didn't learn anything. And people who didn't care about their home's condition... didn't care about this report.

So, we focused on the one time when everyone cared about the condition: when buying a home. And great news! Someone else - the inspector - already did the hard work of evaluating the condition of the major and minor systems. Plus, to help answer the "now what" question, we included ZIP Code specific repair estimates.

We had a product that people found valuable. Yes!

Implementing AI

The first time a customer uploaded an inspection, it took us 6 hours(!) to create the report (we promised a 24-hour turnaround). We created tools that got it down to just under an hour on average. It was good, but it still wasn't scalable. The haunting question was, "If we experienced an avalanche of success tomorrow, could we handle it?" If we received 1,000 inspections, we'd be in trouble.

So, we created an AI to read the reports, identify defects, and recommend repairs. People still reviewed the results, but the processing time dropped dramatically. And, this is cool, as new inspections were processed, we kept retraining the AI to get smarter and smarter, requiring fewer and fewer corrections. It's kind of amazing to watch an AI learn from the very beginning.

The Remaining Question... But Who Can Help?

People loved their repair estimates, but it naturally led to the next question: who can help me do these repairs? This is kind of tricky to answer because, typically, when you receive your estimates (24 hours after getting the inspection report), you don't own the house yet. So, if you want repairs done, the seller does them. We created a slick tool to help buyers generate a repair addendum in minutes, it was helpful, but people still wanted contractors after closing.

Enter Thumbtack, which helps you find local professionals for any home project. I used them multiple times for a painting project, a new fence, a roof repair, and electrical work. It's fun to post a job and get multiple quotes.

We started talking with them about integrating with their API, which would allow us to suggest contractors within the report. And through those conversations, we got to know their team and our shared vision.

So, instead of only doing the integration, they bought our technology and hired our people to do a much deeper integration in the future.

Plus, because of their business model, they can offer repair estimates for free!

So now, you can upload your inspection at for free, get prioritized repair estimates, and find locally-based professionals. How cool is that?!

As I said, we're thrilled about taking this product to the next level with Thumbtack because we believe it'll help even more homeowners care for their homes.

My Next Adventure

I'm continuing to focus on multifamily syndications. Given the economic volatility, the lack of housing supply with increasing demand, and technological improvements in automation, there will be some incredible multifamily deals in the next couple of years.

Furthermore, I believe multifamilies are the best investment on the planet because of their consistent above-average returns (10%+), extraordinary tax benefits, inflation hedge, and creative financing. And it's providing something that everyone needs: housing.

My focus is two-fold:

  1. Analyze multifamily properties in the $2M -$10M range that needs some TLC.
  2. Invite people to invest passively with us who want to diversify from the stock market but don't have the time or knowledge to do so.

Thank You

I want to say thank you to everyone who helped us with Majordomo: Lee, Matthew, Isaac, Graham, Zach, Lance, Daniel, Scott, Linda, Noah, Ken, Anthony, Ben, Josh P, Jenny, Kevin, Mike, Moshe, Josh A, Tony, Dan, and Corey. I learned a lot, had a ton of fun, and am excited to see where Thumbtack takes it.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Riding Motorcycles Through the Himalayas in Northern India

Type 1 fun applies to activities you enjoy in the moment, such as eating a delicious meal or walking on the beach. Type 2 fun pursuits are challenging and may not be pleasant in the moment, but they become gratifying when you look back on them (like taking challenging classes or bouldering). Type 3 fun endeavors are unpleasant during and after the fact, but they can become a good story for some people (like an injury or accident).

Our 15th wedding anniversary vacation hit all three types of fun.

A little over a year ago, we learned how to ride motorcycles so we could ride motorcycles through the Himalayas in Northern India. We spent a day in New Delhi before heading north to Leh, Ladakh.

Our guide, Trevor, lived in Corvallis before moving to India, and my friend, Greg, with whom I hang out weekly, joined us.

New Delhi & Leh Ladakh

We spent the day in a part of the city called Old Delhi, which was hot and humid.

And then we flew to Leh in Ladakh, which is at 11,500 ft. I instantly felt the high elevation when the plane doors opened, but Jessi felt totally normal. You must relax for a day to let your blood oxygen levels catch up, so we did. Here's what it looked like from the plane:

Breathing is a little like when you have a semi-stuffed nose which restricts your breathing, so every 4th or 5th breath, you have to open your mouth to "catch up." It was like that almost the entire time.

I was fine when sitting still, but I felt sluggish with ANY movement, including walking up the three floors to our hotel room. My watch tracks my heart rate, which jumped up 20% at high altitude!

The view from our hotel.

Every time we had a break, we ate food and drank chai tea. We drank so much chai tea... up to 5 cups a day. It was so much tea!

Let's Ride

We got our motorcycles and headed for our first destination. Jessi decided it would be best for her to ride on the back of the bike or in the support vehicle instead of riding her own bike. It turned out to be a wise decision when we hit bad weather, and it allowed her to enjoy all the fantastic views.

Here we are, all clean and ready.

And we found a cool bridge.

The hotel was right on a river and super fancy.

A Proper Adventure

We headed over two tall passes (15K & 17K feet). Along the way, we saw some epic views.

And then the weather turned... It started raining, which turned to snow as we approached 17K feet. My helmet's mask totally froze over as we hit the top of the pass.

Eventually, I entered mild (stage 1) hypothermia and took a break from riding. I captured the moment after I got some feeling back in my hands:

That night we huddled around the stove at a family's home during the few hours they had electricity. The heat felt great, and there were only a few water leaks. We drank butter tea (it's tea with... butter) and ate warm soup. 

The next day we geared up to keep going. In our attempts to stay dry, we put bags over our hands. We looked goofy, and the host family wanted a picture of our ridiculousness.

But shortly after we left, we encountered a block in the road - rocks falling from the storm. When that happens, we need to clear it. But while doing that, we saw a small (but life-threatening) rock slide.

And so we decided it was too dangerous to continue. We headed back to the family's house to wait out the storm. But it gave me a chance during a moment of sunshine to get a drone shot of the village.

And we tried to chase down a group of yaks. Those guys can move! Here's as close as we got.

The next day, we headed back out, but this time came across a considerable road problem:

And since that's the only road into the next village - with a repair timeline of 3 to 7 days - we decided to re-tackle the two previous passes and ride in the opposite direction. It was still snowy, but at least we were dry.

Here's what riding in slushy snow looks like.

And there were sections of big mud puddles.

It was unbelievably tiring keeping the bike upright in the snow, on dirt, doing tight switchbacks, and at high altitudes. Classic type-2 fun. Also, the views were amazing.

And we saw more yaks.

Here was the whole crew.

I dropped the bike multiple times while riding and was grateful for everyone's support. I ended the trip sore, but I should be able to recover from all my injuries.

Buddhist Monasteries

We also visited multiple Buddhist monasteries. One allowed us to take pictures, so here's what they look like inside.

We had some good spiritual conversations, and I learned much more about - and experienced - the spiritual climate there.

And back in New Delhi, we experienced a hood-to-coast-like experience. But in this case, relay teams carry water ~150 miles as part of a spiritual ritual. And when they weren't running, they chilled on a big truck blasting music. There were hundreds of trucks! It was quite the sight!

The City of Leh

We ended in Leh and explored the city. Not only was the market fun, but the views were amazing.

We met up with Trevor's family on the final night in New Delhi for dinner. Watching a family reconnect after a couple of weeks of adventuring was so encouraging.

Thanks for letting me share our proper adventure.