EasyPaint CEO Marty Cornish presenting at TCDisrupt Battlefield / Credit: TechCrunch-Flickr

On Thursday, Paintzen launched in D.C. and Boston, taking on two new cities in one swoop from their headquarters in New York City, on the south end of Manhattan. Paintzen is among a few notable names in the painting services game that uses a gig economy-esque model to grow business and reach more customers. Another influential brand is EasyPaint, a D.C.-based startup that has been growing steadily and looks to next capture the San Fransisco market while maintaining a strong presence back at home. This week, the two companies will begin competing at full speed, under similar models, to claim D.C. as a part of their empire.

In two separate interviews, DC Inno spoke with EasyPaint CEO Marty Cornish and PaintZen CEO Mike Russell about the battle that they will soon face against one another.

Mike Russell, CEO & Co-founder of PaintZen

“Yes, I have heard of Easypaint. I do my best to try to keep tabs on all of our competition. That being said, we did not place a strong emphasis on competitors as we built our new city roll-out strategy. We currently have two markets producing millions of dollars each in bookings. I am very confident that our new city [D.C. and Boston] playbook will work in all major markets, regardless of what other companies operate there,” Russell told DC Inno.

Importantly, while the two companies share many similarities and clear distribution themes—including a focus on quick pricing quotes, simplicity in purchasing, an a-le carte style ordering menu, on-demand web platforms and the decision to leverage a network of painters to connect users with attractive prices—it would be an oversimplification to call them clones.

In recent months, EasyPaint has been boosted by sales from corporate clients, leaning towards a B2B model, Cornish told DC Inno in a previous interview.

The two companies do have their own respective offerings and styles, but the similarities remain obviously prominent. In that light, EasyPaint and Paintzen cater to both home owners and corporate clients.

PaintZen Linkedin Banner / Credit: co.

“Competitors are always present whenever you are doing anything worthwhile, so we’ll just continue to focus on serving our customers. If our customers continue to be happy with EasyPaint, they’ll continue to spread the word and keep accelerating the pace of our growth,” Cornish said.

“Competitors are always present whenever you are doing anything worthwhile”

The scheduling process, which is undoubtedly at the crux of each business, takes substantially less time than attempting to call a traditional contractor yourself. During the order, several details are inputted, the style/type of the paint desired and the desired completion date, among others, is a shared requirement.

In the case of EasyPaint, customers provide several photos of the space/room to be painted, an approximation of the room size and a short list of items that may make things more complicated—i.e. doors and windows.

After the scheduling step, each on-demand painting  startup accesses a networks of previously vetted, local painters who are available and respectively prepared for the specific job—be it a living room or entire law firm.

“I don’t know of any other company that can do what we do”

“The power of [Paintzen’s] quoting engine is that it does not require the customer to do additional work: such as take pictures or measure the square footage of each individual room. A customer does not have to schedule walk-throughs or spend time waiting for someone to send them back their quote,” said Russell, taking a jab at EasyPaint’s photo and room dimension requirements.

He added, “by working with local Benjamin Moore retailers, customers can now select color and order paint right online and have it shipped directly to their doorstep the day the job starts. With Paintzen, a customer can get a quote, select colors, order paint, schedule a paint crew and pay online in under 5 minutes. I don’t know of any other company that can do what we do.”

“We currently have two markets producing millions of dollars each in bookings”

For reference, the former CEO of Benjamin Moore, Denis Abrams, who led the company to a $1 billion acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway in 2000, is actually one of EasyPaint’s executives. In fact, Abrams is the EVP of Business Development. And so it would appear, at least at face value, that EasyPaint holds the more valuable connection to its paint supplier, Benjamin Moore, as Paintzen’s relationship was simply defined as a “partnership” during our interview.

It’s unclear whether EasyPaint gets a better wholesale deal on supply as a result, however.

If they’re so similar, then it should come down to price though, right?

Well, getting a simplified comparison in this arena is easier said than done. A long list of qualifiers and differing options will influence the price of a job, including speed, quality of paint used, size of the room and ongoing negotiations held between the startup, itself, and its contractors.

Background

Russell said he chose to open shop in D.C. and Boston for a few key reasons, including the market’s proximity to New York City, each city was among the top sellers of paint in the U.S. and “there was a strong correlation between the demographics of each of these cities and the demographics of our existing customer base.”

At the moment, EasyPaint only operates in the greater Washington, D.C. area, while it has plans to expand in the future. Earlier this year, the D.C. startup pitched their business at the TechCrunch’s Disrupt 2015 conference in San Fransisco. The EasyPaint team is currently spread between the District and San Francisco. Three full-time employees currently work out of D.C. tech incubator 1776, 11 in total are based in the D.C. area and the company is hiring.

EasyPaint is also weighing a new round of venture capital investment after having raised roughly $400,000 in seed funding to date, Cornish previously told DC Inno.

PaintZen has raised more than $9 million in venture capital investment led by Bullpen Capital, Data Point Capital, Angelpad, NextView Ventures and Lerer Hippeau Ventures. A company spokesman said they’ve painted over 10,000 rooms in New York and San Fransisco to date.