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Home and trade lead sites often take a simple, category-by-category directory approach, but visual contractor rankings might make more sense, argues Jiyan Wei, cofounder of BuildZoom. Wei says his team canvassed home and trade sites such as Angie’s List, ServiceMagic, Redbeacon, Thumbtack and others and noted that many don’t do much more than provide basic listing data and reviews.

Even if the home and trade sites are generating good traffic, they aren’t always producing a lot of leads, says Wei. That’s because consumers don’t have much to go on. Enter BuildZoom, which has developed a comprehensive ranking system. The company’s Big Data approach is based on assorted information from state licensing boards and Better Business Bureaus; crowd sourcing via social media sites; insurance and bonding status; and self-provided information.

BuildZoom’s “Pro Ranking” provides consumers with information on up to 25 candidates per job. For $100 a month, the site will provide consultative services to drive up ranking and search results, including access to copywriters, photo placement, etc. “The core asset is consumer value,” notes Wei. Sites that charge commissions to contractors could have an element of built-in bias. The site also earns revenue from sponsored placement.

The site, founded in August 2010, is angel-funded and currently receives more than 250,000 unique visitors a month. More than 8,000 businesses have registered, and it has 120 paying customers. A handful of salespeople have been assigned in Arizona and Southern California, but they are not limited geographically.

“We already have lots of East Coast contractors related to remodeling projects in New Jersey, Georgia and North Carolina,” says Wei. He adds that home and trade is seen as just the first of many possible verticals for the company.

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