Written by Jerred Ziegler.
There is a lot of valuable information hidden behind the walls of a home. The condition of the plumbing, electrical system, HVAC and roof are all crucial factors in assessing a home’s value and the cost to insure. DataRole in Cincinnati, Ohio, uses software and data analytics to make accessing this data as easy as searching the internet. By collecting and analyzing home improvement data from city and county governments, DataRole allows real estate agents, mortgage brokers and insurance companies to instantly see the work that has been done on a home.
“Two homes may look identical on the outside, but one could have $50,000 dollars of work done and you wouldn’t be able to tell from the surface,” said Matt Lenahan, CEO of DataRole. “There’s no way for an inspector to rip apart walls and see things like plumbing and electrical, and that’s why our data is so valuable.”
Any time major work is completed on a home, contractors have to obtain a permit from the city or county. DataRole analyzes the information from city permits and presents it in a user-friendly format, so with the click of a button, users can see accurate historical data on improvement projects. For example, when real estate agents show their clients a property, they can include the DataRole report and give the client much better insight into the condition of the house.
“It’s kind of like looking under the hood of the car, but that can be more difficult with houses,” said Lenahan. “Knowing things like the date the roof was last replaced makes a real estate agent more informed, equips an insurance company with facts to set prices and helps a bank assess risk.”
Lenahan was previously a real estate agent and property and casualty insurance agent, experiencing firsthand the guesswork that often goes into estimating the value of a home. He founded HireWheel in 2014, which showed homeowners which contractors were completing work in their neighborhood by collecting information from the contractors and from permits. The company began receiving calls for the data from major insurance companies, banks and real estate firms, and Lenahan realized there was an unfulfilled demand in these industries. He launched DataRole in 2016, which shifted the platform from consumers to businesses. HireWheel is still available to homeowners in the Cincinnati and Chicago areas.
As the company focused on creating a business-to-business platform, DataRole received funding support from CincyTech, a southwest Ohio partner of Ohio Third Frontier. This allowed the company to expand its reach to over 120 cities, collecting and analyzing millions of permit documents.
Lenahan says Cincinnati was the best place to start and grow the business because of the tech-minded talent in the area and the resources that rally around new technology. He says every entrepreneur in the thriving tech community is willing to meet and offer advice. Large corporations in the region like Procter & Gamble and Kroger have also given time and resources to help the startup community grow. In fact, the 84.51° data science team helped HireWheel build their current platform. Lenahan says without these resources, the company wouldn’t have been able to shift and expand as it has.
“There is a wave of excitement in entrepreneurship across the state of Ohio, and I feel privileged to be a part of that energy with a lot of other great companies,” said Lenahan. “DataRole is working to create jobs and make a positive impact in the Cincinnati community. It’s been the perfect place for us to get the guidance we need to redefine our business and make us an industry leader.”