Follow the Leaders
Imagine having your very own in-house Business Idea Incubator. A place where new ideas are organically hatched and resources are on hand to quickly cultivate and test ideas before they’re launched on a national scale.
For a small or mid-sized business, it sounds like heaven. A CEO’s dream. And it’s exactly the enviable position in which HourWise Co-founder Ethan Wirt finds himself.
HourWise was a result of the experience Wirt gained with his first company, 89-Paint. It was there he learned firsthand what it takes to run a contracting business, including the back-office challenges of managing contractors. Now, thanks to 89-Paint, his new business is ripe for penetrating an estimated $1 trillion marketplace.
We caught up with Wirt just days after he moved into his new, larger space in Richmond near Legend Brewery. He was so new to the space that his internet connection wasn’t up and running, and his team was still in transition.
89-PAINT GIVES BIRTH TO HOURWISE
“When I started 89-Paint in 2007, I set out to professionalize a market that’s not always known to be that professional by using unique processes and new technology to scale a better way of getting your projects painted and for the contractors who do it,” says Wirt. “And through that experience, HourWise was born.”
“We knew from what we learned in building that company that we could extract really cool tools and software that was applicable to any contracting company around the country,” Wirt adds “Even today, 89-Paint continues to be a lab for us, where we can test out ideas and test our software and our processes before we take them out to the rest of the world.”
How would Wirt describe HourWise? “Our technology facilitates a process and gives our clients access to a fractional person to help triage every opportunity they have in their business, through life cycle to cash,” he explains. “So if you can imagine, the average paint contractor loves painting, and he’s really good at it and running his crews, but he doesn’t know how to do all the other ‘stuff’ it takes to run his business. HourWise does all the other ‘stuff.’”
HourWise’s services include scheduling, providing quotes, managing invoices and customer follow-ups, and more. Think outsourced office assistance and business partner. The executive leadership team includes co-founders Ethan Wirt and Jon Hill, as well as COO Jason Bello.
HourWise was launched in 2012 and began to see rapid growth in 2014, after acceptance into the Lighthouse Labs Accelerator Program. Since then, the company has raised over $750K in seed capital from various strategic and supportive fans within the program.
In the final quarter of 2015, HourWise reported a 280 percent uptick in user growth, and today the company is hiring and finds itself in partnership discussions with big box home improvement stores.
“We’re at 25 employees and growing,” says Wirt. “We’ve been taking on 10 new clients a week and managing 20,000 tasks or so a month for our clients to make their lives easier.”
Wirt estimates there are roughly 1.7 million potential customers for his service, equating to roughly a $1 trillion marketplace. His goal is to reach 100,000 users by the end of 2020.
Such rapid growth often brings pain. Helping him through it, says Wirt, is VACEOs Roundtable #3. “It was really valuable for me to find a group of men and women who knew exactly what I was dealing with,” he explains. “The Council is such a great place to find your clan.” What else does he say about VACEOs? Watch the video.