Power Talk Friday: Jean Brownhill, Founder of Sweeten: Connecting Interior Designers and General Contractors

Episode 422 of A Well-Designed Business®
422: Power Talk Friday: Jean Brownhill, Founder of Sweeten: Connecting Interior Designers and General Contractors

Welcome to Power Talk Friday! We are really thrilled to have Jean Brownhill, founder, and CEO of Sweeten, on the show with us today. Jean, who has almost 500 000 followers on Instagram, is onto something that you, as designers, really need to know about. She has a designer trade VIP program where she connects interior designers with the really well-screened, well-vetted general contractors that her company has worked with over the years. Right now, Sweeten has thousands of these contractors on their books. This means that whatever kind of project an interior designer brings to them, they can match it. Listen in today, to find out all about Jean’s really awesome designer trade VIP program and how it can really benefit you, as a designer.

After earning an Architecture degree at The Cooper Union, Jean spent a decade in design and construction, including in Global Architecture at Coach, where she won the Chairman’s Award for designing web platforms to streamline retail construction worldwide. After a challenging renovation of her own home, she saw the need for a free service to match people to vetted general contractors, providing support throughout the process. So Sweeten was launched in 2011. The concept earned Jean a prestigious Loeb Fellowship from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Tune in to find out what Jean has to share about the really unique platform that she’s created.

Show highlights:

  • Jean explains how Sweeten assists interior designers.
  • Finding the right general contractor to suit the design project.
  • Jean talks about where she started with Sweeten.
  • Jean wanted to figure out how to get high-quality construction and design resources to regular people.
  • How Designers get matched a contractor through Jean’s website.
  • What’s included in the service that Jean offers.
  • Sweeten has a vetted group of contractors that have all committed to working transparently.
  • The kind of data that they re able to collect as a result of staying with all their projects to completion.
  • They do an original content piece on their blog every single day.
  • Sweeten can hold their contractors accountable based on the fact that their communications, signed contracts, and estimates are all on the Sweeten platform.
  • Sweeten is always working on ways to get everybody on the path to completion.
  • How the contractor’s ratings on the Sweeten platform affect the number of projects Sweeten will send their way.
  • The way that the contractors are incentivized to stay with Sweeten and deliver great service.
  • Treading lightly in the process of learning what works best for everybody.
  • Jean shares her contractor vetting process.
  • Jean gives some tips for interior designers to work successfully with contractors.
  • Sweeten charges interior designers no fee at all.
  • Jean offers an awesome incentive of $500 for a referral.

Bio:

Jean Brownhill, Founder, and CEO of Sweeten

After earning an Architecture degree at The Cooper Union, Jean Brownhill spent a decade in design and construction, including in Global Architecture at Coach, where she won the Chairman’s Award for designing web platforms to streamline retail construction worldwide. After a challenging renovation of her own home, she saw the need for a free service to match people to vetted general contractors, providing support throughout the process.

Sweeten (as in “home, sweet home”) launched in 2011; the concept earned Jean a prestigious Loeb Fellowship from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

Today, Sweeten has more than $1B of construction projects in the pipeline. The service has been called a “Renovation Game-Changer,” with Jean hailed as “The Contractor Whisperer” by New York Magazine as well as one of Inc. Magazine’s “Most Innovative Women Founders in America.”  Sweeten brings trust, technology, and transparency to the $340B+ residential renovation industry, allowing consumers to renovate fearlessly. The company expanded to commercial projects—restaurants, retail, offices, etc.—in 2017.

Just as Sweeten sets new standards for contractors, Jean is taking on traditional barriers for diversity and women in tech. She’s a female founder disrupting a male-dominated industry. She’s co-founder of the African American Student Union (AASU) at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, an organization supporting African Americans in architecture, real estate, and urban planning. She’s a member of the 2018 Class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute. And she’s one of few black female entrepreneurs to raise $1M+ in venture capital, as featured in Vanity Fair.

For more info, please contact Randi MacColl at randi@sweeten.com or 212-671-1713.

Links:

Sweeten

Blog Sweeten

Design Trade VIP Program: Sweeten Architects Designers

Instagram: @sweeten_home

Facebook: @theSweeten

Pinterest: Sweeten

Twitter: @sweeten_home

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