Posted on June 16, 2017 by staff

Can tech save £1bn wasted on botched home improvements?


An entrepreneur is transforming home improvement through tech in a bid to save £1bn wasted on botched jobs and cowboy builders every year.

Opun has already received £5.5m of funding and founder John Cushing told BusinessCloud that the potential of the sector is “massive”.

His platform manages professional in-home services and delivers hundreds of successful home improvement jobs every year using transparent pricing and vetted trade partners.

Cushing said: “The home improvement marketplace itself is worth £34bn.

“Clearly there is a vast amount of fragmentation that sits within it – 975,000 individual traders operate within it.

“And that includes everything from a fireman who doubles as a carpet fitter, all the way through to your original builders who have got 20 to 100 people working for them.

“If you look at the Government stats, one in five jobs will go wrong. A billion pounds was wasted last year on botched home improvement, and 2.5 million claims have been lodged at the small claims court.

“These are numbers that are astounding and by anyone’s imaginations, you’ can’t spend a billion pounds and get it wrong. That’s what we’re here to address.”

Opun is targeted at everyone who owns a home, whether it’s a small job or a large job, and Cushing says he has used the site a number of times for his own projects.

As it grows, he stressed the importance of solid recruitment – and giving staff a tangible reason to give their all.

He added: “You should always recruit better than yourself, and you’ve got to use every means possible to do that.

“There are two types of people. There are those who like stability, and there are those that like chaos. And typically those that like chaos are the ones who are drawn to the start-up world. Those that like stability lean corporate. There isn’t a right or wrong in that.

“You can have some fantastic talent doing brilliantly well in corporate, and you can have some fantastic talent doing brilliantly well in start-ups.

“It’s geared towards the individual as opposed to anything else. The trick, though, is being able to identify which person is going to fit into your team and your culture.”

Cushing believes equity is a tangible way of incentivising staff, its net worth giving them some commonality, in terms of being able to work harder and longer.

“More often than not, what it genuinely means is they buy into the vision in a way that normal employees can’t or maybe don’t do,” he said.

“As a small start-up that we are, you’ve got to have fun in the environment. We ask a lot of our staff.

“Doing 12 or 14 hour days at times isn’t right, and we recognise that. When you get these real tangible moments of success and you’ve done a record month, that means a lot to people.”