Matt Ehrlichman – Co-founder and CEO of Porch

[quote style=”boxed”]”Competition, confidence, trust, and focus push me to new heights daily.”[/quote]

Matt is the co-founder and CEO of Porch, the only consumer and social Internet marketplace that connects homeowners with the right home service professionals based on insights into who neighbors have used, project and cost history, and friend endorsements. Matt raised a $6.25M seed round to start Porch from top Bay Area and Seattle investors including SV Angel/Ron Conway, Bill Lee, Chamath Palihapitiya, Jeff Skoll, Geoff Entress, Charles Moldow, and 20 others.

Prior, Matt was on the executive team at ACTV where as Chief Strategy Officer he ran the technology business units (>80% of the ACTV P&L), marketing, International, and corporate and business development. Matt joined ACTV at the start of 2007 and helped grow the company’s revenues from $65 million in 2006 to $420 million in 2012, and a 2011 initial public offering.

Before joining ACTV, Matt was co-founder and CEO at Thriva, which was acquired by ACTV in March 2007 for >$60 million. Matt built Thriva out of his dorm room at Stanford University where he studied and received both his Bachelor of Science degree in entrepreneurial engineering and Master of Science degree in management science and engineering.

What are you working on right now?

Being on stage for the NYSE bell-ringing was fun and a check-the-box moment, but I wanted to get back to solving a real problem and creating a truly great company. I started working on Porch, the only internet offering of its kind that solves true pain that homeowners across the US have when repairing and remodeling their home. Porch is a marketplace that connects home owners with the right home service professionals based on insights into who neighbors have used, project and cost history, and friend endorsements.

Where did the idea for Porch come from?

After taking two months off from my last venture that IPOd, I started building a home with my wife and son. It was comically hard to find the right tools and information to make good decisions. Every one faces a problem taking care of their homes and improving it. Not only is the home our biggest life investment, it’s our biggest intimacy where memories are born. Managing our home should be easy. And for this purpose, Porch was born.

How do you make money?

Porch has several different revenue streams. Most importantly it is free and always will be free for homeowners. Porch monetizes through supplier and professional value add services that drive their business goals.

What does your typical day look like?

I rise with the sun and start my formal work day at 7am, Monday through Friday. Round 1 of my work day ends at promptly 5:30pm where I kick off family time. With a young son and one on the way, it is critical for me to be able to have family dinner and play time before they head to bed. From there, my second wind kicks in and I crank through projects and email until about midnight.

I methodically organize my week to make sure I provide appropriate attention to our key efforts (and limit external meetings):
• Monday: Management: team, goals, evaluation, recruiting, money
• Tuesday: Consumer: growth (acquisition, SEO, social, blogging, growth mentors), engagement, direct customer meetings
• Wednesday: Product: design, vision setting
• Thursday: External: partnerships, external meetings, PR & earned channels; investors)
• Friday: Sales: sales, B2B marketing, data sources, data partnerships, direct sales, meetings with Pros
• Saturdays: Off
• Sundays: Planning: Week planning, goal setting, project completion

Each day, I prioritize spending time with key team members (walk and talks), time for me to execute, talking on the phone, and rolling up my sleeves on subject matters above.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I organize our employees into ‘growth pods’ allowing cross functional teams to tackle hard problems collectively vs in isolation. We also have a mandatory dog fooding program that forces employees to know our product inside and out to contribute to its evolution.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The boom in the housing industry. Everyone is talking about. It’s wind behind Porch. The home improvement market is forecasted to grow annually at 3.5% and there is renewed housing market confidence as reflected in the increase in sales of 29%.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I have only ever worked for myself so this is a tough question. My freshman year of high school I started a sports summer camp in Western Washington. The job I hated was manually entering camp registrations, deciphering Mom handwriting. This is why I started my next software company which streamlined camp registrations :).

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would go much deeper in computer science in school. I would love to be able to spend more time hacking away with our awesome developers!

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Everyone should talk and sell to customers. I spend more than 50% of my time in every business working with external stakeholders. It not only provides you with invaluable insights but intuition too.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

After starting the summer sports camp in western Washington, I headed to college and the camp didn’t make it under other leadership. If I had known better I would have tried to sell it or continued to maintain better footing with it.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

An SEO marketplace is waiting to happen. One where people can trade or barter actual and authenticate SEO juice. Often times links from certain companies are extremely valuable for the receiver. There is an easy way to monetize here that Google won’t punish.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

The fact that any kid in this country never the less the world has to grow up without a home and the stability and comfort and confidence that a home can provide, should not exist. In my humble opinion, it starts with a world class education to break the cycle so I would focus my efforts on improving the public schools in the country. It will take a while but over time we will make progress.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I am a comic geek. I will go to the theater just about any time a comic book movie debuts.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Google keyword tool because it is all about SEO baby. Dropbox because productivity and organization our paramount regardless of location. Linkedin because business starts and ends with relationships.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

“Good to Great” by Jim Collins. Collins is the Man. I read religiously both on strategic subjects and tactical. Collins provides such insight on the purpose behind being an entrepreneur and business leader. It’s a DNA book.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

@Seahawks -best sports team on the planet
@petecarroll – personal hero and words of wisdom to compete and win forever
@porchdotcom – an open and connected community that empowers smart home improvement

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

I laughed out loud 2 days ago when my 2 year old son requested his regular running jumping tackle-tickle smooch hug!

Who is your hero, and why?

Win Forever. Always Compete.

A successful coach, football legend, and my business hero, Pete Carroll has amassed records, impacted many and taken a long term perspective on his career that has changed the game, despite what others said along the way.  Making the leap from USC to the Seahawks, Carroll faced skepticism as he continued his journey beyond the California dynasty. Today Pete has identified his own paramount position and a philosophy I use each day at work. He is the ultimate leader – attracting the best talent, aligning and motivating them, and keeping the team cranking at full-speed through the inevitable peaks and valleys. In business, like in sports, it’s so core to trial and error and pushing yourself to compete with others and yourself in order to win forever. We need to always be competing which only successfully comes with working day and night to get better in effort to become great. Competition, confidence, trust, and focus push me to new heights daily.

Should you hire generalists or specialists?

Building the right team is critical to happiness and success. Find people who have super powers – true mastery – in areas that you don’t and that the business needs. The key is to find people who are hungry to be the best but aren’t quite there yet.

What’s the best advice you ever received?

No one will remember you when you are gone for how much money you made or what your title was. They will remember you for having a profound impact on the world.


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Matt Ehrlichman on Twitter: @mattehrlichman
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