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N.B. Startup Rising to the Challenge of Sustainable Development

Rise founder and CEO Matt Daigle. Image: Submitted

FREDERICTON– An award-winning Fredericton-based startup is helping people across North America build and renovate their homes more sustainably.

Rise is an independent third party online platform that brings together products, professionals, rebates, and know-how on building and renovating sustainably. Users can search for all these professional services and products in their area.

The company won the first-ever Innovation Award at the NB Power Energy Efficiency Excellence Awards Wednesday night in Fredericton.

Rise’s platform has been under development and tested over the last few years, with a pre-beta platform launched in 2016.

“We weren’t quite ready [then] to launch,” says Rise founder and CEO Matt Daigle. “We were heads down in building our product and testing and reiterating with our early adopters and people who are hitting our site.”

But Rise is finally ready to hit the ground running after some critical growth over the last year. The company has brought on a strategic investor, who also serves as one of the companies lead advisors.

Rise’s team has also grown from four to about 12, which includes their growing content team. Rise has hired Minnesota-based Melissa Schiffman as their editor, who manages a group of five or six writers. Daigle says creating useful content is key to the company’s strategy of getting more homeowners on the site.

“That’s primarily how we bring people to our site is through our written content,” he says. “We have some video content which we’re going to get into a little bit more, but primarily it’s through written content.”

That strategy seems to be working. Since January, Daigle says the number of visitors per month has jumped from 5,000 per month to 42,000 per month.

“We’ve seen a tripling the traffic of our total from last year and we’re now getting more people to our site on a monthly basis than we were for the entire year last year,” he says. “Our numbers are starting to really get up there, which is really nice.”

Strong web traffic is critical for Rise’s growth. The company’s revenue largely relies on sustainable contractors, developers, architects and retailers paying to have their products and portfolios hosted on the site for their desired customers to see.

“We’re trying to attract as many homeowners to our site as possible. The homeowners are essentially the lifeblood. The more homeowners we have, the more attractive they become for professionals,” says Daigle.

“Any trade, architect, designer, contractor, builder, has the opportunity to be on our site via a subscription model. They pay on an annual or monthly basis and that gives them the opportunity to put up their entire portfolio on our site and tell us about the products they use in their builds.”

Rise is now getting ready to undertake specific city launches, something they’ve been planning to do since the beginning.

“We’ve identified about a dozen cities across North America that are probably greener than others. For example, Vancouver and Seattle are the first cities that we’ll be launching in. The plan there is to cater a portion of our content, our marketing and also our sales activities to those markets,” says Daigle.

“At the end of the day, the professionals want leads. They want people to see their photos. They want people exposed to their portfolio, so you can only really do that once you acquired a good-sized audience.”

The NB Power award helps the company build awareness, says Daigle.

“One of the reasons I think that people around here aren’t so much into what we’re doing just yet is because they don’t know a lot about it. So when you have someone like NB Power who can vouch for you and is saying, ‘You should take a look at this company’ I think that definitely helps,” says Daigle.

“I think that just kind of speaks to our company. Nobody’s really done what we’re doing in trying to get sustainable home improvement into the hands of everyone and making it seamless for homeowners.”