Hidrent Before Shark Tank
Dave Heimbuch, who has a background in tech sales, came up with Hidrent in 2017. A mobile app, it allows users to match with off-duty fighters to get various jobs done. Not only does it help the firefighters earn a bit of extra money, but it also gives users peace of mind as all firefighters (assuming that they’re on active duty) must have undergone an extensive background check; this lets them know that whoever is coming into the home is trustworthy.
If anything, that’s what sets it apart from other gig apps. And there are multiple services that you can choose from such as yard work, general handyman services, gutter cleaning, light installation, and more. Once the app is downloaded and installed, the user can pick the tasks that they’d like help with and when.
Firefighters who are interested can sign up for the app and Hidrent will verify their employment before they’re added to the system. The company’s business model is that it takes a 20 percent cut from whatever the cost is for the task.
While the app has been available for a while, however, it hasn’t received as much traction as Heimbuch would like. Wanting to fix that, he decided to try his luck with an investment on Shark Tank.
After several rounds of auditions, he and his team received the call that they had all been waiting for- they had made it onto the show. They were subsequently flown into Culver City, California, where they filmed their segment. It was later included in episode six of the thirteenth season.
Hidrent on Shark Tank
Dave proudly strides into the tank and introduces himself. Mark is happy to know that he is also from Dallas, Texas. With a chuckle, he tells them that he’s looking for a $300,000 investment in exchange for 8 percent equity in his company, Hidrent.
With that, he launches into his pitch by painting a hypothetical scenario. Pointing at Rose, a lady who is sitting to the side, he comments that she lives alone and sometimes needs help with projects around the house such as moving heavy furniture or hanging art on the wall. Continuing with the scenario, he states that she has been burnt in the past and that she will only let someone she trusts into the house.
Almost immediately, there’s a knock at the door. Dave introduces Daniel, an active firefighter who also happens to live in Rose’s neighborhood. He also adds that he’s a trusted member of the community and that he’s extremely handy. To emphasize the point, the actor that plays Daniel holds up an electric drill, which garners laughs from the sharks.
Dave also notes that Daniel is very strong and just as he’s saying that, he begins to move Rose’s sofa for her in the back.
Dave then explains that that’s why he created Hidrent. He had wanted to give firefighters an easy way to connect with those in need and a means of earning a bit of extra money on the side.
The camera zooms then in on the screen, which shows the mobile app. Dave explains that firefighters simply have to download the Hidrent Pro app to their smartphones and register. He lets them know that the app will automatically send the user notifications when someone, such as Rose, needs help. The mock-up phone on the screen then shows another screen and Dave points out that all of the details of the task are displayed, including the date, location, time, description of the task, as well as the types of equipment required.
As the demo continues, he explains that the app will show an accept button at the bottom of the screen, which when clicked, will allow the firefighter to message and schedule a date and time with the user. He also lets them know that the app is able to track the number of hours worked, which can then be used to create an invoice for payment, all on the same platform.
The demo comes to an end and Dave asks if anyone is interested in investing in the app.
Lori immediately says that she likes the idea and that it is “very wonderful.” Robert agrees. She then asks Dave how he came up with the app.
Dave reveals that while he’s not a firefighter, he has a background in digital marketing and sales and that he has worked for several different startups including Shazam. He also mentions that he has always wanted to start his own company given the opportunity.
Continuing with his story, he explains that he eventually married into a family of firefighters and that while working on his house one day, he mentioned to his brother-in-law, who’s a firefighter, that he had used a mobile app to hire a contractor for the work. While his brother-in-law was impressed, he told him that he- or any one else from the fire station- could have also done the job.
Dave explains that that triggered his marketing mind and that with the help of his brother-in-law and other firefighters, he was able to launch the business.
Lori goes on to ask about the company’s history. She also asks him about their sales. Dave replies that they launched in 2018 and that their lifetime sales are $850,000. Continuing, he reveals that they made $125,000 in 2019, $260,000 in 2020, and $325,000 so far in 2021. The sharks are noticeably impressed.
Guest shark Nirav Talia asks about their gross sales. Dave explains that they take a 23 percent cut and that they charge the homeowner approximately $72 per hour, and pay the firefighter about $60 an hour. He adds that the majority of their customers are senior citizens and for that reason, they decided to launch the app in Tampa and Phoenix and that those are the markets they’re in now.
Robert asks how they find the homeowners. Dave tells him that the majority of their users find them through Google, Nextdoor and Facebook. Just as he finishes speaking, Nirav announces that he loves the idea of “connecting amazing neighborhood heroes for everyday tasks” and thanks him for advertising on his platform, to which Dave smiles. The guest shark also points out that being able to get users to find and download the app is not trivial. He also mentions that they have 50 million users on Nextdoor despite never having spend a dollar on advertising.
Nirav then compares Hidrent to Nextdoor as they both connect neighborhoods with neighborhoods. He notes that there are over 250,000 neighborhoods in the United States and that for that reason, gaining traction can be tough. He also comments that “you have to do one neighborhood at a time”, which Dave disagrees with.
He then explains himself by saying that it’s because there are fire stations everywhere- both in cities and rural areas.
Nirav comments that Dave is a kindred spirit and once again praises him for the idea. However, he states that it took him a long time to build Nextdoor, which he believes, is very similar to the app as it connects neighborhoods together. While he wishes him the best of luck, he tells him that he is out.
Kevin speaks next. He asks Dave how he is able to “open up more neighborhoods without a team” and questions why he doesn’t hire a few more people.
Dave explains that he’s always on his computer buying ads on Facebook, changing out the creative and changing out the copy and that he does everything himself. Kevin once again asks why he’s not expanding his team. Dave tells him that he’d love to but that he’s lacking the funds to do so.
Mark comments on Dave controlling his own destiny but feels that there isn’t a path for him to do so through digital ad spend. He lets him know that he’s out. Dave nods and thanks him for his time.
Dave’s attention then turns toward Robert, who notes that the app is a “brilliant idea”. He also praises their logo, but he’s unsure what they ultimately provide- a service or contract. He emphasizes the importance of that and comments that he’s not sure if it’s “gonna work or not” but makes a point that senior women are the target audience. He even comments that his wife would refer the app to her friends.
Robert then makes him an offer- he will give him the $300,000 but wants 20 percent of the company. Dave smiles and thanks him for the offer.
Kevin is the next shark to speak. He notes that while the idea of the app is brilliant, “it’s not the journey [he] wants to take” and for that reason, he is out.
Lori speaks next. She mentions she has a “very soft spot for firemen” and that she loves the whole idea of the app. She then tells him that she would like to go in with Robert. Robert is happy with the idea. Continuing, she tells Dave that the two of them have different skill sets that can be complementary and that they can help him with the business.
However, she states that they must change the name of the app as “Hidrent” is not intuitive.
She then talks numbers with Roberts. She reiterates his offer- $300,000 for 20 percent- and notes that they will need more than 20 percent for the double-shark offer to work. Robert suggests $300,000 for 35 percent of the company.
Mark reminds Dave that he is allowed to counter their offer.
Dave thinks for a second before stating that they are in the $500 million home service industry. Despite Robert’s warnings, he continues and lets Lori and Robert know that the equity is a bit too high for him at that valuation. However, the rest of the sharks urge him to take the pair’s offer.
Kevin, however, also remind him that he can make a counteroffer.
Noting that the valuation is “a little low”, Dave asks Lori and Robert whether or not they can do what he had offered before- $300,000 for 20 percent. Robert immediately replies that it’s not enough for the both of us. Lori agrees. She also points out that she has over 20 million followers on all her social media platforms and that one post can give the app a significant boost in users.
However, she announces that they are able to come down a little bit. She then gives him a new offer- $300,000 for a third, or 33.3 percent, of the company. Mark notes that they cut his valuation by two-thirds. Robert repeats that that’s the best they can do.
Seconds later, Dave accepts their offer. As the rest of the sharks cheer, Lori and Robert walks up to Dave and give him a handshake and hug. Dave thanks the sharks for their time again before exiting the tank.
Hidrent After Shark Tank
As far as we can tell, the deal with Robert and Lori didn’t work out. Lori did, however, tweet about the app after the segment aired on television.
Several months later, the company raised more than $660,000 in seed funds with nine investors.
In June 2022, Dave also launched a StartEngine equity crowdfunding campaign, which went on to raise nearly $150,000. They also announced that they had partnered up with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), which gives them access to more than 300,000 firemen across the US, through 2024. As part of the partnership, they will also be donating two percent of all profits to the IAFF. If anything, this gave them national traction overnight.
For those who are interested in downloading or learning more about the app, you can visit Hidrent’s official website at hidrent.com (despite what Lori and Robert said about the name, it looks like they didn’t end up changing it). They even offer Hidrent gift cards, which you can give to friends or loved ones.