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How Sweeten Built Trust Into the Home Renovation Process

Home renovation startup Sweeten created trust as the foundation of its business -- and now it has $1.5 billion worth of work in its pipeline.

This story appears in the April 2021 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When Jean Brownhill walked into her Brooklyn home in 2007 and saw a gaping hole in the ceiling, she knew she was dealing with a renovation gone wrong. Brownhill had built a career in architecture and construction — ­­if she struggled to find a reliable general contractor, other homeowners must really struggle. To seize the opportunity, she launched Sweeten in 2011. It's an online marketplace that matches homeowners with vetted general contractors and helps manage the relationship and the project. Consumers get transparency; reliable contractors get more business. Since launching, Sweeten has raised $20 million, completed thousands of renovations across the country, and has $1.5 billion worth of projects in its pipeline. But to succeed, Brownhill knew she'd need to do more than just create a smart service. She'd need to build trust in a very distrusting industry. Here's how.

Courtesy of Sweeten

1. Build a new network.

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