Simon Phelan: Hometree
Tired of getting the spiel from sharp-suited boiler salespeople? This company is on a mission to help you...
Simon Phelan, 28
Many of us have been through the ordeal of replacing a boiler at some point.
You wait two weeks for an appointment, take a day off work and the engineer often doesn’t show up. It’s a staple of British life, like barbecuing in the rain or investing forlorn hope in international football tournaments.
Hometree wants to make this routinely frustrating experience better, using digital technology to take boiler installation out of what it calls “the dark ages”.
The two-year-old company, co-founded by Simon Phelan (pictured left), offers boiler surveys via video call, saving homeowners the ordeal of letting a sharp-suited salesperson into their home and being sweet-talked into buying a product they don’t need.
If a customer does decide to get a new boiler fitted (and there’s no pressure to do so), they can select their preferred model online using Hometree’s e-commerce solution. Visitors to the website are offered a live chat upon arrival, emulating the real-time customer care pioneered by companies such as Amazon.
Phelan – who began his career working for legendary venture capitalist Jon Moulton before switching to the energy market – hopes to install up to 6,000 boilers this year, making his company the third-largest installer in the UK, and establish a dominant hold on a sector which has hitherto been largely untouched by digital innovation.
The company has raised over £12.5m, having recently raised a fresh funding tranche of $8.5m led by one of the largest financial companies in the world.
Moulton has also invested in the company, as has Paul Pindar, the former Capita CEO who has steered two previous start-ups, Purplebricks and eve Sleep, through IPOs.
Pindar’s experience is helping the company prepare for what Phelan calls “hyper growth”, and plans are in place to build on the core boiler business with a smart home services arm – surfing the technological wave made possible by Internet of Things.