The United States is currently faced with an alarming labor shortage of skilled workers in the trades. Over 60% of skilled tradesmen are over the age of 44, and the industry will struggle to fill these roles as younger generations continue to seek employment in other industries. 78% of firms report having difficulty finding qualified workers to fill these types of positions. The construction industry lost 1.5 million workers during the Great Recession. As a result, skilled trade jobs have consistently ranked as the most difficult position to fill since 2010, with 62% of companies struggling to fill these positions.
Fixer offers a compelling, scalable solution to address this labor gap by providing a career entry point and development for women and minorities while also delivering a superior customer experience. Their on-demand home repair service features transparent pricing as well as convenient online booking and payment. The company identifies overlooked talent and develops their skills with progressive training in customer service, home repair, and maintenance. “Fixers” (the employees of Fixer who provide handyperson services) have access to a variety of learning opportunities, ranging from informal sessions with fellow workers, to online courses and classroom-based certification training provided by the company. The curriculum also includes work in the field with mentors in order to gain hands-on experience. Ultimately, customers benefit from Fixer’s intensive training program in the form of impeccable service and high quality of work.
Why We Invested
Fixer boasts an extremely strong management team. The company was founded by Mike Evans (co-founder and former COO of GrubHub) and a handful of ex-GrubHub product, operations, engineering and marketing veterans who have a proven track record of success. Also, Fixer is seizing a large, attractive market opportunity by vying to become a nationwide, customer-service oriented brand for home maintenance and repair. In addition to their impressive management team and the large market opportunity, we are also excited about the potential for impact at scale. Since there is a limited supply of experienced tradesmen, Fixer’s focus on recruiting underrepresented populations to join the trades as novice fixers becomes a clear competitive advantage for the company.
Fixer’s goal is to bring more people into the trades, giving them measurable and valuable skills, which will provide them greater economic security and mobility, particularly for those currently earning less than $50,000 per year, as well as for underrepresented populations such as women and minorities. Typically, we invest in products where the customer is “buying the impact” (e.g. a school administrator wants better education outcomes), so that the impact is directly driven by sales. In Fixer’s case, the customer is buying a convenient service, but because there is a shortage of skilled handy-people, the social impact is a key requirement for Fixer to grow its business (i.e. they must successfully train people to provide a great service).
One of the biggest variables on impact will be who those employees are and whether the company is hiring the underserved. The leadership team at Fixer has a strong commitment to impact, and to reflect that commitment, the company registered as a public benefit corporation. As the training gets underway, we plan to track the number and type of new practical skills acquired by Fixers, as well as the demographics of those entering or re-entering the trades.
We invested in the seed round that Fixer raised in May, which will allow them to continue to grow the business, to refine their model, to build out the curriculum for their training academy, and to hire their first group of novice fixers. We look forward to working with Mike and the rest of the Fixer team as they continue to grow the business alongside co-investors Founder Collective and Hyde Park Venture Partners.