There’s a startup in Arkansas that insurance companies wish didn’t exist and it’s protecting homeowners by providing them proof of record of their assets. It’s called Denventory and founder Austin Kelly has created a way for homeowners to keep a home inventory online.
Imagine your home caught fire, was burglarized, or suffered extensive damage during an earthquake. Chances are that some of your most important belongings would be damaged or complete destroyed. Well, unless you have receipts, serial numbers, and photos to prove that they were actually yours, an insurance company isn’t going to be willing to pay you the full amount for your losses.
Denventory is an online solution to this issue that keeps these records of your material goods away from the vulnerability that is your home. We had a chance to talk to Kelly about his startup and here’s what he told us in support of his new business.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
The name came to me early on. I kind of thought, If I’m going to make this thing, it’s going to have a clever name.
I really wanted to plaster the entire thing with bears, since bears live in dens and they are clearly awesome. I could envision bears inventorying their belongings. In the end, I decided against the bears… maybe that was the best or worst decision I ever made.
So, sticking with the name, a den can also be a nickname for your house or home. You know…your crib, pad, turf, base…I figure den is also appropriate.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
I like to think I am a tremendously resourceful person. I don’t default to conventional methods. I guess all entrepreneurs have a little bit of that inside of them.
I learned quickly that you can’t do everything yourself. When I began, I slowly started to meet more and more contractors on Elance for things I needed done. Some were awful and some were amazing. So now, I’ve developed a team of A-list people that I go to and get great results. Technology is a wonderful thing.
Who or what inspires YOU?
Anytime I see an internet entrepreneur succeed, I am inspired by it. It helps me to know that it is possible, it can be done.
I was also inspired by the entire concept of home inventory. Imagine having your home invaded and possessions stolen or destroyed, what a nightmare. I can fortunately say it hasn’t happened to me, but I know it could at any time.
How’d you fund this venture?
It’s all been self-funded. I have a few side businesses and the profits from them have been used for this project. I’ve been talking it over with a few interested parties and considering joint ventures.
What was the biggest mistake you made with this or a past company? Anything you would change?
I like to think that the entrepreneurial experience is like stumbling through a pitch dark house you’ve never been in before and looking for the light switch.
After you find the first switch, it gets a little easier to find the next one, and so on. It’s just a matter of taking action. You can’t find that switch if you aren’t really looking. Occasionally you’ll trip over things you never would have guessed were there, and in hindsight you wouldn’t be able to believe that you made such a mistake.
I’ve done everything from computer repair and web design to blogging. So I don’t know if my worst mistakes are in front of me or behind me.
Do you consider yourself successful now?
To call myself successful is to settle for less. I’m always striving to achieve and take the next step. However, success sounds like it would come in the form of… let’s say… 500,000 users storing their stuff on Denventory… that sounds really nice.
Web App or site you couldn’t live without and why:
It may be unoriginal, but I would definitely have to say Google Apps.
- I use Google Docs to keep a constant log of all changes and updates to be made with my team.
- Analytics to track my conversions and see where my visitors are coming from and how long they’re staying on the site.
- Webmaster to make sure my site is in tip-top shape and that there are no duplicate meta-tags, restricted robots.txt, or other quirks to be fixed.
- Tasks (Better Google Tasks Chrome Plugin) to keep me on the ball with what to do each evening and who to reach out to.
It’s definitely an all in one package and it’s been helping me chug along for some time now.
Mobile App you’re in love with:
I know I’m a late bloomer on this one but I just recently started using Instagram.
People are attracted to the old retro styles. Some of the best pictures I’ve taken have been with a cheap disposable camera. You can see this trend in photography now where people buy a $500 camera, then spend hours making them look like they were taken with a $3 camera.
Instagram makes it super easy to achieve this effect, and also to share it with friends and the world.
Dogs or cats?
Cats are just awesome. I mean, come on!
iOS or Android?
Long story short, iOS.
Now for the long story….
As a teenager, I was an early fan of Verizon’s first Droid. Upgrading from a Blackberry Motorola Q, the Droid was like heaven. I grew to like it enough, but it was clearly buggy.
I like what Android wanted to be, a unifying operating system for all manufacturers to be on a mutually beneficial playing field. It’s just hard to keep every app bug free (or available) since it runs on so many different devices. When I actually got an iPhone about a year ago, I was spoiled.
It’s just so dang smooth.
Anything else we should know about what makes you and your company so special?
I’m just a guy that had a dream to do something and I put it into action, I feel like that has to count for something. I didn’t have any real connections, mega funding, or prior knowledge in the home inventory industry. I knew how to make things look fancy on a web site but even that is something that can be outsourced.
We have a long list of features we plan to roll out very soon as well as a mobile app underway.
We’re already getting feedback from users and we’re not even a month old yet, so I feel like we’ve made great progress. The only thing we can do is grow and continue to help others with our service.