This Tunisian startup has great traction connecting homeowners with contractors

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Tunisian startup Chantier is reporting impressive numbers on its platform that connects homeowners with verified and qualified service professionals for home improvement and repair projects.

Formed in 2016, Chantier smoothes the process of finding a good contractor, allowing homeowners to register and list jobs for free, and homeowners to quote for the work.

Simple, but extremely effective. Since its launch, Chantier has validated more than 3,500 homeowner projects, and made more than 11,000 connections. It has 90 paying professionals, who have so far completed more than 750 projects at a total value of more than US$4.2 million.

Not bad for a business that was built on the ashes of another startup, called “E-Devis.tn”, founded by Shady Achouri and Moufid Ben Hmida, two university friends, in 2013.

“E-devis was a multi-sector quotation platform that gathered professionals in different industries like automotive parts, construction, electronics and insurance. Anyone could use this platform to get a quote for any need in these sectors. This platform was a failure and we learned many things,” Shady Achouri, co-founder and chief operations officer (COO) of Chantier, told Disrupt Africa.

“We decided to choose one single sector out of the eight we were working on.”

That was the home improvement sector, a choice made due to the size of the market, and the decision has paid off for Achouri and Ben Hmida. They spotted that homeowners were struggling to find home improvement professionals they could trust.

“In this unstructured sector, people have nowhere to look for contractors they can trust. Also, these homeowners have no benchmark for the prices and frequently end up scammed because they dealt with the wrong guy. Chantier positions itself as a changemaker in this market, bringing together the reliable professionals inside one single network. The rating system existing in our platform helps the homeowners pick the best professionals of our network,” Achouri said.

The potential for the business has also drawn investors. Angel funder Skander Haddar, a successful Tunisian entrepreneur, was an early backer, while Chantier also raised US$60,000 after taking part in the Flat6Labs Tunis accelerator last year. Achouri said it is now in fundraising mode again.

“We are raising US$200,000 to diversify our marketing channels. We also want to expand our customer support and sales teams, and build a technical team. We will use a part of the funds to study the market for regional expansions and run a pilot,” he said.

North and West African markets will be the initial targets for Chantier, starting with Morocco and Ivory Coast, but for now it is fully focused on Tunisia.

“Our vision for scaling is to basically mature in Tunisia by reaching a steady flow of revenue and a good market share,” said Achouri.

Chantier makes money from two different types of subscription plans for service professionals to have access to the leads it provides – one for specialised professionals, and another aimed at small enterprises that have multiple expertises.

“We are also testing a commission-based business model for projects that cost above US$7,000 to diversify our revenue channels,” Achouri said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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