Meet Our Startup of the Year Competition Semifinalists: Keepe

September 8, 2015

9:00 pm

From apps to hardware, to KickStarter successes and international startups, we’re inching closer to finding out who will take home the title of Startup of the Year at our annual Celebrate Conference in October. Among the dozens of participants that applied for the online competitions, only a few progressed into the semifinals.

Climbing the ranks for our Northern Region, Keepe was one of two semifinal winners. If they come out on top, Keepe can expect prizes and support from Tech Wildcatters, 500Startups, Consumer Electronics Association, Crowdfunder, Techstars, American Airlines, and more!

In order to get a better understanding about what they do and how they are preparing for Celebrate, we sat down with Keepe cofounder and CEO Rishi Mathew to hear about his journey to get to Celebrate.

Tech.Co: Since launch, what was the most challenging part of gaining market traction?

Rishi Mathew: The most challenging part for us was getting traction in a low cost manner. Keepe is bootstrapped and we decided that we wanted to get great product/market fit before taking any institutional money. So, we had to acquire users and get traction the right way – by building a product that consumers are wowed by. Based on the feedback that we are getting, the product doesn’t just meet their minimum threshold of expectations, it blows past it. We have seen an average of 10% week on week growth for the past 25 weeks. Every week, the bar is raised and we are expecting to continue this trend through the year. Importantly, we are doing so while maintaining high service quality. The average rating for service professionals is 4.8 out of 5.

What advice would you give to other startup founders interested in the consumer space?

Mathew: Consumer products are easier in some ways and harder in other ways. We have one particular mantra that we always use – if you try to build a product that satisfies everyone, you will most likely build something that wows NO one. It is important to identify your consumer segment early and then over-index for that consumer segment even if it alienates others who are not in your segment. Polarization is the best thing that you can ask for in the consumer space. If you see some customers loving your product and others hating it, your product is polarizing. And that is a good thing

What was the road like leading up to your initial pitch for the competition? Did you do anything in particular to rally your fans?

Mathew: We submitted a very strong application, likely our strongest ever, for the competition. Obviously, we benefited from having iterated our pitch and talking to a lot of people in the startup ecosystem. I had been to a Startup event in Las Vegas during CES, so I got a sense of what the judges were looking for.

Keepe also had the benefit of having a large social media following on Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, we have a large email list of consumers and contractors. We reached out to our followers, customers and suppliers to make their voice heard and vote for Keepe. I think this helped us in getting a large turnout for us.

How is the Keepe team prepping for Celebrate in October?

Mathew: Our primary focus is on continuing to build Keepe and serve our customers and contractors. At Celebrate, we want to simply put our best foot forward and showcase our progress. Celebrate brings together the top startups and investors together in Las Vegas (which in itself is a rising star when it comes to startup ecosystems) and so we want to put together the best manifestation of Keepe in front of the judging panel.

Since your founding last year, what campaign or part of Keepe are you most proud of?

Mathew: By far, the positive feedback from our customers (both homeowners and handymen) has been the crowning jewel of this journey. The startup life can be very enervating, but there is nothing as energizing as good feedback from customers. At Keepe, we are trying to reimagine a deeply rooted service paradigm that has been established for decades. For example, we had a customer (she is in the military and was moving to a different state) who was trying to put her house on the market and had to get some small projects completed in her house. She had been looking for a handyman for 3 weeks. She heard of Keepe on a Facebook group one day and tried us. We were able to get a handyman to her home that very day (in fact within hours) and complete the work for her. She wrote a really long email thanking us. I still look at it almost everyday for inspiration.

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Elliot is an award winning journalist deeply ingrained in the startup world and is often digging into emerging technology and data. When not writing, he's likely either running or training for a triathlon. You can contact him by email at elliot(@) or follow him on Twitter @thejournalizer.

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