The home services marketplace startup YINC, in the works since 2016, chose an interesting time to launch.
The startup made its first publicity push this week, the same week Facebook — the one competitor capable of crushing nearly any startup with its scale — added home services to Facebook Marketplace through partnerships with startups HomeAdvisor, Handy and Porch.
But YINC — an acronym for “you’re in control” — isn’t folding so fast. The startup is a combination of Yelp and TaskRabbit that incorporates blockchain technology and cryptocurrency payments.
Reviews of home service providers based only on transactions that were completed are recorded on YINC through blockchain — the distributed ledger that powers bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies — to prevent tampering and paid-for positive reviews like the kind that YINC founder Jonathan Handler said can plague more established sites like Yelp. Consumers get a percentage back from how much they paid for a job if they leave a review.
YINC users can look up nearly any home service they need — roofing, housecleaners, dog-walking — and YINC will show a randomized handful of vendors in their area. Those vendors then get messages alerting them to the opportunity to make a bid for the client. Vendors can see how many competitors have already bid for a job, but not what price other competing vendors offered.
Users can then begin a messaging conversation with a vendor within the app to coordinate an appointment.
The company is targeting commercial property managers as its core customers, although anyone can use the platform, including renters or homeowners. Handler comes from a real-estate family, which is helping with customer acquisition of property managers. The company’s funding also comes in part from a family member, Handler said. YINC takes up to a 15 percent cut of completed jobs, with a lower percentage for more expensive services.
Although the platform has been in the works for a few years, it’s only completed a “couple hundred” jobs, Handler said. The startup has been in family-and-friends mode, offering the platform to acquaintances to test it out. The company plans to use money raised from its ICO to invest in properties as a form of customer acquisition for YINC. Investors who buy the YINC token can use the tokens to pay for jobs on the platform.
Meanwhile, Facebook is rolling out its home services Marketplace feature to all U.S. Facebook users in the coming weeks, after introducing the feature to some users this week.
“Facebook’s partnership with Handy, HomeAdvisor and Porch provides a simple listing of home repair providers from contractor directories, but it does not ensure authentic, tamper-proof reviews of these service providers, nor does it offer competitive bidding amongst these vendors for a specific job,” Handler said about how YINC will compete with Facebook.
Correction: A previous version of this article said the YINC acronym stood for “you in control” and that the company takes a 15 percent fee for jobs. The acronym is for “you’re in control” and the fee is up to 15 percent depending on the size of the job.