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Tradies’ start-up raises $500k

Former Wairarapa College students Josh Faraimo and Jarome Cavubati, co-founders of Kwotimation. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

The founders of an automated quotation platform designed for tradies are bucking the capital funding trend they say typically favours men and those from Pakeha backgrounds.

Tiler Josh Faraimo, co-founder of Kwotimation, which he started with mate Jarome Cavubati, has successfully raised $500,000 in a pre-seed capital round and attracted the attention of multiple angel investors.

They were former students of Wairarapa College and were now based in Auckland.

Their technology that addresses the most common bugbear for tradies – creating a quote and securing the job – was designed with tilers in mind, but would be expanded further to cater for other tradespeople.

Kwotimation raised $100,000 from lead investor Rob Vickery’s Hillfarrance Venture Capital, along with $400,000 from Flying Kiwi Angels, Angel HQ, Humi Group, and several individuals from the Edmund Hillary Fellowship.

This is the first round of capital the small firm has raised.

It is looking to secure another $1-2 million towards the end of the year.

“We’re the least likely in New Zealand to raise money. We had no sales, we didn’t even have a product when we [approached] VC investors, we’re also Pasifika and Maori; we don’t raise money, especially under those kind of circumstances and by not having any typical background and being tradies,” Faraimo said.

“For these investors to believe in us and push us forward with their money is amazing.”

It was not easy to secure funding initially, and they found government programmes unhelpful, Faraimo said.

They first approached Flying Kiwi Angels, who originally said no to investing in the firm, so the pair decided to enrol in a 12-week programme at Maori business accelerator Kokiri – this is where they were introduced and their business caught the eye of mentor and investor Rob Vickery.

“This can become an essential tool not just for tilers, but tradies of all kinds – and not just in New Zealand, but around the world,” Vickery said of Kwotimation’s potential.

The raised capital would be spent largely on software development to broaden the app’s remit and to add an additional 150 tiling businesses to the app, he said.

Faraimo, who has been a tiler for about 10 years, was running tiling.co.nz when he founded Kwotimation early last year, at a time when the business was growing and he found himself spending a large portion of time quoting jobs.

“I always knew that quoting was something that was taking up time, but I realised it more when I was growing my business. As soon as I had a few staff members doing multiple jobs and I was having to quote five to 10 times a week, I realised that if I could automate this process and put it online on our website it would really help me,” he said.

“I created the online pricing system on tiling.co.nz to add value for my customers, it worked really successfully – we generated $370,000 of accepted quotes in the first two months, and that’s when we knew we were on to something.

“That’s when we decided we could either make this business big, and take over the whole game in New Zealand, but all we would be doing is crushing the little guy; our fellow tilers, or we could share this so we can all enjoy the software, and that’s what we decided to do.”

Kwotimation was striving to “reinvent what quoting could be with the power of the internet”, for a sector in which approximately only 15 per cent of businesses have a website, Faraimo said. — NZME

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