Founder stories: Homestars, the founder journey

Our Director of Marketing, Katie Paterson, sat down with Nancy Peterson, Founder and CEO of HomeStars, to see what motivated her to leave a career in large corporations and start her own company.

KP: What inspired you to start Homestars?

NP: I was on maternity leave and was doing renovations on our 50-year old house. Throughout the process which turned into months, I stepped back and realized how hard it was for homeowners to find reputable trades. I started the company in 2006. At the time, there was nothing for homeowners to find contractors, so I started this journey as an exciting opportunity to really help homeowners connect with the best contractors in Canada.

KP: So what does HomeStars do?

NP: The problem that HomeStars is solving is really, who do you hire? HomeStars fills a void by helping homeowners hire the best home professional through our rich depth of homeowner reviews.

KP: As the founder, what obstacles do you face?

NP: When you look back on your journey of starting a company, there’s always a million things that pop into your head of the various obstacles that arise. I think the biggest obstacles are really building a team and evolving that team over time. The hardest thing as you grow a business is really building and motivating the best leaders of the organization and developing their skills and creating that environment. The second thing and also highly important is having the right resources, particularly financing.

KP: Tell me what your funding journey has looked like.

NP: The funding journey has been an interesting one, and I’m sure anybody that’s working on their business right now can appreciate. I was quite fortunate to have a venture capitalist give us a term sheet and also required that a second venture capitalist go in with them and co-invest. That round didn’t close, but I was able to leverage that term sheet and close an angel round at a nice valuation. We reached a nice inflection point where we did a loan with Espresso Capital. That allowed us to raise money without diluting ourselves. That was a nice turning point for us as a company.

KP: How did you come across Espresso Capital?

NP: I was introduced to Alkarim, who recommended an experienced CFO. That was a pivotal hire for us. I am still working with my CFO today that Espresso had recommended.

Working with Espresso has been the best experience I’ve had in working with any group, whether they be angels or banks. They really want to help not just in providing the financial support, but also with problems that you have.

KP: What are you excited about moving forward?

NP: We’ve had a major milestone in our growth cycle. We’ve been growing rapidly, double-digits over the last few years. What’s really exciting and a validation of our growth and success is that we’ve been acquired by HomeAdvisor, the number one source in the United States for connecting homeowners with the best contractors.

KP: What has been a major takeaway for you building HomeStars?

NP: When you start a business, you have it in your mind where the end goal is. It’s never exactly the way you plan it. I think one of the biggest realizations for me is it is a journey, and try to remember that there’s going to be so many changes to what you think is going to happen and it doesn’t happen. Just try to enjoy that journey and try to remember the difficult times; try to remember all the wins and successes you’ve had.

KP: So do you have any advice to incoming founders?

NP: I would say if you’re really thinking about starting a business, it’s scary. I was scared out of my mind jumping into that deep end. Just do it. You’ll never regret starting a business ever. Even if it doesn’t go as planned and you decide that it’s not for you, it’ll open more doors, so, go for it!

Keep a look out for our next edition of the Founder Stories Series. If you know a great founder who should be featured, contact Katie Paterson at