Avid Ratings, a Madison company that lets buyers of new homes post online reviews of their builders, plans to more than quadruple its staff and go global over the coming years.
Armed with a $6 million infusion from two investment funds, Avid says it will hire as many as 100 employees over the next several years and will build its builder reviews in hopes of becoming the J.D. Power of the homebuilding industry. (J.D. Power, a global marketing information services firm, is known for its customer satisfaction reviews of cars, utilities, and other products and services.)
Avid, at 918 Deming Way, has 25 employees but plans to double that to 50 in about six months and will probably hit 125 employees in the next two to two and a half years, said Paul Cardis, founder and CEO.
“We’re going to go through massive hiring mode,” said Aaron Everson, Avid president. “We have a lot of market to capture.”
Avid gives home builders software tools to find out how their customers rate their companies, and what they liked or didn’t like during the complicated process of building a new house.
Cardis said he wants to expand the service to more builders and to collect more extensive data including buyers’ opinions about the components within the home — from plumbing fixtures to lighting, floors and cabinets — and the workmanship that went into installing them. That would help consumers make more informed decisions and give builders more checks and balances on their subcontractors, he said.
“Everything that’s inside the house — that’s our overall end goal,” Cardis said. “Data is a very, very important aspect of the housing industry that is (currently) lacking.”
Cardis said the company serves about 2,000 builders across the U.S. and Canada. Builders that participate with Avid are required to post all of their reviews online, whether they are positive or negative. “If a builder chooses to share reviews, they are not allowed to cherry-pick,” he said.
Avid, founded in 1992, has offices in Phoenix and Toronto. Cardis said about 90 percent of the staff is in Madison and the majority of new hires will be in Madison, at least in the first two years.
The company surveys buyers of new homes when they move in, about six months later, and at the one-year mark. Cardis said he plans to offer new questionnaires at additional times, such as during the construction process.
He said homebuyers have been eager to provide their opinions. Cardis said Avid has about a 60 percent response rate overall, and about 70 percent for builders in the Madison area.
Since a home is generally the largest purchase consumers make, “they are extremely motivated to communicate, and welcome the opportunity,” Cardis said.
Everson joined Avid as an advisor in early 2018 and was named president in August. He was a president of Shoutlet, a Madison social media strategy company, and later, an executive of Spredfast, the Austin, Texas, company that bought Shoutlet in 2015 and closed its Madison office two years later.
The $6 million investment is from 4490 Ventures, a Madison venture capital firm, and Beringea, an investment firm with offices in Detroit and London. It’s the first outside financing Avid has taken, Cardis said.
He said Avid has been a “profitable, growing company,” though he declined to give revenue figures, and didn’t need additional funds, but he considers the investment to be “an opportunity to really take over and dominate the space.”
Cardis said the first target will be expanding in the U.S. and Canada, and then seeking a worldwide audience over the next five to 10 years.
“Our mission is to be the No. 1 resource for building quality in the world,” Cardis said.