Jon Christensen, CEO at Bidmii: “We pushed a product into a live production environment way too early, but the lesson we learned from this mistake was invaluable”

Ever heard of proptech? Even if you haven’t, we suspect you know the drill: just as financial tech became fintech and marketing technology scrunched its way to martech, so property technology has its own portmanteau. We interview Jon Christensen, co-founder and CEO of Bidmii, to discover how his company became a “leader in the proptech revolution”.

First, some background on Jon. If there are three words to summarise his past, they would be “franchising”, “design” and “development” (for example he spent two years at the Boston Pizza franchise, the mere mention of which is making us hungry). If he saw a chance to grow the companies he worked for, he seized it.

And when the pandemic landed, he and his brother spotted another opportunity amid the uncertainty. This is what gave birth to Bidmii in 2020…

What’s Bidmii’s elevator pitch?

Imagine you’re a homeowner looking to renovate your kitchen, but you’re overwhelmed by the process of finding a reliable contractor. That’s where Bidmii comes in. We’ve created an automated marketplace that connects homeowners with trusted contractors. You simply describe your project, and contractors bid on it. We hold the funds in trust, ensuring safety and efficiency.

Whether you’re a homeowner or a contractor, our platform is free, with a premium subscription available for contractors. We’re revolutionising the renovation industry, turning what used to be a stressful process into a seamless experience. Let’s make your next home improvement project a breeze with Bidmii!

Jon Christensen CEO Bidmii
Jon Christensen, CEO at Bidmii

What made you launch a startup?

The idea for launching Bidmii came from a real need that my brother, CTO Phillip, and I identified in the market. We realised that homeowners often struggle to find reliable contractors for their renovation projects, and contractors were looking for a trustworthy platform to connect with potential clients. With our combined knowledge and experience, we saw an opportunity to create something unique and valuable.

The pandemic was a challenging time for many, but we turned it into an opportunity for innovation. We wanted to revolutionise the renovation industry by ensuring safety and efficiency in the process of connecting homeowners and contractors. Bidmii was born out of this vision, and our passion for making a positive impact in people’s lives drove us to turn this idea into a thriving startup.

What problem are you trying to solve?

The problem we’re tackling at Bidmii is the often complex and uncertain process of connecting homeowners with reliable contractors for renovation and home improvement projects. Homeowners can find it overwhelming to sift through numerous contractors, unsure of their credibility and quality of work. On the other hand, contractors may find it challenging to reach potential clients and build trust.

Bidmii solves this by creating a transparent and secure platform where homeowners can describe their projects, and contractors can bid on them. Our goal is to simplify this process, ensuring that homeowners can find the right contractor for their needs, and contractors can connect with clients in a trustworthy environment. We’re all about revolutionising the renovation industry by making it safer, more efficient and hassle-free.

Can you talk us through your journey so far? What’s a major milestone you’ve reached?

Our journey with Bidmii has been an exhilarating ride filled with significant milestones that we’re incredibly proud of. It all started with the excitement of our first complete stranger-to-stranger transaction, a moment that had us popping champagne bottles in celebration. It felt like we blinked, and suddenly we were celebrating passing the $1 million mark and reaching $100K per month.

We didn’t stop there. We launched financing options for homeowners, providing even more accessibility to our services. Completing the Google for Startups Accelerator was a testament to our innovation and potential, and now we’re working closely with the Canadian Consulate in Boston to formulate a strategy for entering the US market.

One of the next major milestones that I’m personally thrilled about is the launch of an embedded insurance product. We believe this will add another layer of trust and convenience to our platform, enhancing the overall experience for homeowners and contractors.

Each of these milestones represents not just our growth but our commitment to revolutionising the renovation industry. We’re excited about what the future holds and are dedicated to continuing our journey of innovation and success.

Who are your main competitors and what distinguishes your startup from them?

While there are several platforms out there that connect homeowners with contractors, our main competitors might include traditional classified ad services and other online marketplaces in the home renovation space.

What distinguishes Bidmii from these competitors is our commitment to safety, transparency and efficiency. Unlike many platforms, we hold the funds in trust, ensuring that both homeowners and contractors are protected throughout the transaction. Our automated marketplace is designed to streamline the process, making it easy for homeowners to describe their projects and for contractors to bid on them.

We also offer unique features like financing options for homeowners and our upcoming embedded insurance product. Our participation in the Google for Startups Accelerator and collaboration with the Canadian Consulate in Boston for US entry further demonstrate our innovative approach and ambition to grow.

Bidmii’s focus on revolutionising the renovation industry, coupled with our user-friendly platform and value-added services, sets us apart from our competitors and positions us as a leader in the field.

How has the startup scene in the Waterloo & Toronto area helped and/or challenged your own startup’s development?

The startup scene in the Waterloo & Toronto area has been instrumental in shaping Bidmii’s development. Our involvement with key players in the region, such as the Treefrog Accelerator in Newmarket and Communitech in Waterloo, has provided valuable support, mentorship and resources that have fuelled our growth and innovation.

The strong educational institutions and tech community in the area have given us access to talented professionals, while the active startup environment has allowed us to connect with mentors, investors and other entrepreneurs. These connections have been invaluable in building partnerships and gaining insights.

However, the thriving ecosystem has also presented challenges. The competition for top talent can be intense, and standing out in the market requires continuous innovation and strategic positioning. Operating in a major tech hub has also come with higher costs, which can be a challenge for a growing startup like ours.

Despite these challenges, the blend of support and competition in the Waterloo & Toronto area has uniquely shaped our journey.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made and how did you overcome it?

In the early days of Bidmii, we were driven by the mantra that user feedback, especially early user feedback, was the key to product development. With unbridled enthusiasm, we launched our platform, knowing that more quality assurance could have been done. The feedback on the earliest version was direct and pointed out a myriad of issues, ranging from non-functional features to unclear instructions. I even received calls from family and friends who told me, “Jon, I love you, but this platform… it sucks”.

Though this was not the constructive critique we had envisioned, an interesting phenomenon occurred. Despite the platform’s clunkiness and glaring flaws, it started working, adding value where there had been none before. We even saw transactions between complete strangers, our first real indication that our platform was gaining traction.

In retrospect, it’s hilarious to think that we pushed a product into a live production environment that early. However, the lesson we learned from this funny mistake was invaluable: we were on the right track, and we were tackling a problem worth solving. This experience demonstrated that the problem we were addressing was real, big and tangible. It taught us the importance of testing and quality assurance but also reinforced our belief in our mission and our ability to create a solution that resonated with users.

Where do you hope your startup will be in ten years?

In ten years, I envision Bidmii as a global leader in the home improvement and renovation industry. We aim to be the go-to platform for homeowners and contractors alike, not just in Canada and the US, but across multiple continents.

Our focus on trust, efficiency and innovation will continue to drive us forward. We’ll expand our offerings, introducing new features and services that cater to the evolving needs of our users. Whether it’s embedded insurance products, financing options or cutting-edge tools to streamline the renovation process, we’ll be at the forefront of industry transformation.

Collaboration with key partners, continuous investment in technology, and a relentless commitment to customer satisfaction will be the pillars of our growth. We’ll also maintain our dedication to social responsibility, ensuring that our business practices align with ethical standards and contribute positively to the communities we serve.

Ultimately, our goal is to make the renovation process as seamless and enjoyable as possible, turning what has traditionally been a stressful experience into one that’s rewarding and satisfying. By staying true to our mission and values, I believe that Bidmii will become synonymous with quality, reliability and innovation in the home improvement industry, setting new standards and shaping the future of renovations worldwide.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time?

If I could go back in time, I’d tell myself to embrace the journey with all its ups and downs. Here’s how I might articulate that advice:

“Jon, starting Bidmii is going to be one of the most exciting and challenging adventures of your life. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; they’re going to be some of your greatest teachers. Remember that time you launched the platform too early? It’s going to be a wild ride, but it’ll teach you invaluable lessons about the importance of the problem you’re solving.

“Trust in your vision and the team you’ve built. Surround yourself with people who share your passion and aren’t afraid to challenge you. Listen to feedback, but also trust your instincts. You’re on the right track, and the problem you’re tackling is real and worth solving.

“Invest in relationships, both with your team and your users. Understand their needs, and their pain points, and work tirelessly to create solutions that resonate with them.

“And finally, take care of yourself. Building a startup is a marathon, not a sprint. Find balance, celebrate the small victories, and don’t lose sight of why you started this journey in the first place. You’re revolutionising an industry, and the impact you’re going to make is worth every challenge you’ll face.”

What would you say to potential investors reading this interview?

Bidmii is more than just a platform; it’s a vision to revolutionise the home improvement and renovation industry. We’ve identified a real and tangible problem, and our solution is resonating with homeowners and contractors alike. Our journey so far has been marked by innovation, growth, and resilience, and we’re just getting started.

We’ve celebrated milestones like passing the $1 million mark, completing the Google for Startups Accelerator, and formulating a strategy for US entry. We’ve collaborated with key players and we’re excited about the launch of an embedded insurance product.

What sets us apart is our commitment to trust, efficiency and continuous improvement. We’re not just building a platform; we’re creating an ecosystem that adds value, ensures safety, and simplifies what has traditionally been a complex process.

Investing in Bidmii means investing in a future where home renovations are accessible, enjoyable and secure. It means being part of a team that’s driven by passion, integrity and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

We invite you to join us on this exciting journey. Together, we can shape the future of the renovation industry and create a lasting impact.

Feel free to reach out, and let’s explore how we can collaborate to take Bidmii to new heights.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs and anyone looking to launch their startup?

Starting a startup is a thrilling yet complex journey, and having navigated this path with Bidmii, I’d like to share some insights that might resonate with aspiring entrepreneurs.

First and foremost, begin with a palpable problem that you personally experience, something that you would be willing to pay to solve. In our case, it was the need for a platform that could connect homeowners with reliable contractors. This problem was real, tangible and something that many people, including myself, wanted a solution for.

Next, rapidly test different solutions with multiple stakeholders. Engage with your potential customers, understand their pain points and iterate on your ideas. Don’t be afraid to do things manually at first. With Bidmii, we started with a very basic platform, learning from user feedback, and making continuous improvements. It’s about finding what resonates with your audience and what they are willing to pay for.

Once you have something that people want to buy, that’s when you build and scale. Invest in technology, assemble a strong team, and focus on delivering value. For us, expanding into new markets was part of this scaling process. It’s about taking a validated idea and turning it into a thriving business.

Remember, the journey of entrepreneurship is unique to each individual and filled with its own challenges and rewards. Stay true to your vision, be adaptable and embrace the learning process. It’s not just about building a product; it’s about solving a problem and making a difference in people’s lives.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need further insights [Jon’s LinkedIn profile is here]. The entrepreneurial community is here to support you, and I’m excited to see where your journey takes you.

Any final thoughts?

As we continue to innovate and grow at Bidmii, our mission remains clear: to simplify the renovation process and bring trust and efficiency to an industry that’s ready for change. We understand the challenges homeowners face, and we’re here to answer the question that so many have asked: “how do I find a contractor near me?”

Our platform is more than just a marketplace; it’s a community where homeowners and contractors can connect, collaborate and create. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far, and we’re excited about the future. Whether it’s launching new features like embedded insurance products or expanding into new markets, we’re committed to revolutionising the way people approach home improvement.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about Bidmii, our journey and our vision. Together, we’re building a future where finding a contractor is not just easy but enjoyable, turning what was once a daunting task into a rewarding experience.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions, need support, or simply want to chat about your next renovation project. We’re here to help, and we can’t wait to see what we can build together.

More interviews with startup founders

Our thanks to Jon for taking the time to share his experience. For more interviews, read on:

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Tim Danton

Tim has worked in IT publishing since the days when all PCs were beige, and is editor-in-chief of the UK's PC Pro magazine. He has been writing about hardware for TechFinitive since 2023.