Hover: Home Improvement of the Future
“Goodbye tape measures, hello accuracy in 3D”, says Hover.
Providing a better experience for both contractors and homeowners, Hover paves the road to the future of home improvement.
What Hover’s software does is create 3D models of buildings using smartphone photos sent by the app users. So, whether it’s a contractor, homeowner, or architect, everybody involved in the construction process can use the data to create their ideal space with more ease and accuracy.
The company was founded by two army veterans - A.J.Altman and Ross Hangebrauck. They launched Hover in 2011 and the main product 4 years afterward. The company already has over 1.1 million app downloads and over 200 loyal customers.
To learn how Altman and Hangebrauck’s idea won the hearts of the people in the home improvement industry, continue reading about their unique origin story.
From an Army Vet to a Software Innovator
Just like with every good story, the tale of Hover started at the place one would least expect – in the military defense. The company is the outcome of two army veterans’ love for engineering and their drive to improve the community they cared most about – the US army.
Before preparing for lift-off, A.J.Altman worked in one of the most dangerous fields of the US Army Forces - the Marine Corps.
There, he unexpectedly became impassioned with computer engineering. So, like a true action-oriented person, he quickly enrolled at the University of Notre Dame where he obtained the necessary knowledge and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Engineering.
Soon after, A.J’S interest slowly started to gravitate towards a new field of interest - the tech world. However, many years passed for A.J from graduating in 2000 and launching Hover in 2011. During this time, he amassed experience as a computer engineer at Intel Corporation, worked as a consultant for the DoD, and finally, as an Infantry Officer in the Marine Corps.
As Faith Would Have It…
Although A.J was entranced by what the army represented for him, being an adventure-seeking person, he started becoming interested in technology. During this time, A.J’s wish to reenter regular life became more intense and so, he was locked in on finding a team of software developers to work and grow with. Soon, destiny intervened and his path interlocked with the life of Ross Hangerbrauck – a veteran himself and a more experienced engineer.
Ross was the one who initially introduced A.J to the cutting-edge photogrammetry and 3D reconstruction that was used in military defense. As a soldier just coming home from a tough mission, A.J instantly realized this software’s potential to save lives and minimize risks for soldiers. Together with Ross, they started upgrading the code, eventually evolving it into what Hover is today.
Their initial idea was to provide the military with more accurate software for mapping out battlefields and increasing the safety of their fellow fighters. This plan was a success since their first $2 million in revenue was from selling the software to the DoD. But in the software development industry, you never know where the wind is going to take you.
A Story with a Twist
A.J and Ross’s software quickly got the traction they were hoping for. But nobody would have guessed that they would expand so quickly and that they would decide to move their services toward the construction industry.
As the company progressed, A.J became obsessed with creating a 3D reconstruction of all properties on the planet. His cunning and ambition attracted and amazed investors, which in turn allowed Hover to turn into the success it is today. So, after providing a state-of-the-art military defense software, Hover’s eye was on another prize - to help the everyday American by simplifying construction.
The core idea behind Hover’s new ambitions was to end the unnecessary mystery behind construction projects. A.J and Ross thought that homeowners should know all the details of a project before investing their money and time in it. Having in mind the fact that home improvement is an expensive undertaking, and that 70% of construction projects fail, Hover’s software quickly became a life and budget saver.
Hovering above Ground
Much sooner than expected, this unique company was considered a saving grace for both construction workers and homeowners all around the US. But the app proved beneficial to contractors too as it allowed them to prepare for their jobs without fearing the worst when it comes to measurements, documentation, and negotiation with clients.
As Hover's statement highlights: “Accurate measurements, fast estimates, direct orders, and happier customers means more time and money for professionals to build their business”
To provide seamless and transparent communication between professionals in construction and their clients, Hover quickly expanded the app and its services. Besides 3D modeling, the company is now offering direct ordering from the app, accurate estimates for different trades, labor management tools, filing claims, and property data for tax assessors.
But one of the most exciting features of the app is the ability to design your property in 3D using real-life materials from reputable companies like Alside, James Hardie, and GAF. It’s a great tool to see whether the vision in your head matches the property in real life, before investing most of your livelihood in a construction project.
Soldiers with Hearts of Gold
The company wouldn’t have survived without the founders’ hearts of gold. Truth be told, Hover is the perfect mix of empathy and a military work ethic.
Despite the enormous success, the company founders stayed humble. Their core value has been ethics right from the start and it’s safe to say that they have stayed true to their cause. A.J is not the person to back off when there is an opportunity to help people in need, whether they are homeowners, soldiers, or army vets.
In fact, Hover is currently running an employment program focused on former soldiers. The goal is to motivate vets to get into software development while at the same time offering possibilities for their future employment. Through the program, army personnel interested in coding can get free consultations from industry experts and easily jumpstart their careers.
Describing this initiative, A.J said, “We all benefited from mentors and coaches to help us achieve our successes in the military and the private sector. We now feel an ethical responsibility to help contribute to the success of others”.
The Sky Is the Limit
As the company owner A.J put it in a recent interview, the vet mindset is one of the main factors behind Hover’s success “Vets are drawn to challenges, and they will figure it out. If you have a team of people with his mindset, you can’t lose”.
This isn’t far from the truth - in 2020, Hover had its first Series D funding. 9 investors raised a whopping $60 million to help further growth and IPO. Nationwide Mutual Insurance, State Farm Ventures, and Travelers Insurance were some of the leading investors.
Startups rarely reach this stage so quickly, but Hover was not a regular startup - in 2019 alone, the company raised $25 million with Series C funding while its total funding amount over these 10 years stands at $127.3 million.
In addition, even though there are tons of companies that offer 3D modeling like LeapMotion and zSpace, Hover is still a leading force in the industry. It has such a unique winning mentality that just a few months ago it partnered with a competitor company. On February the 3rd 2022, Hover joined forces with Versik to do no less than provide better solutions for homeowners whose homes suffered catastrophic events.
Where to Next?
Focusing on improving people’s lives didn’t stop Hover from developing into the success story it is today. As we speak, this 3D company has over 3 offices in the US with 200 employees, it hit almost $10 million in revenue in 2022, and is co-funded by industry giants like Home Depot, Google Ventures, Alsop, and LLC.
It’s hard to say what the future holds for Hover since their creative hands-on approach allowed them to expand their empire from military defense to construction software in just less than 6 years. After dipping its toes in different markets, Hover is now on a mission to transform other difficult industries and make the lives of the average citizen much easier. Currently, they are eyeing the insurance industry and they already have certain features integrated into their app.
Besides leaving a positive mark on the world, Hover also dreams big of developing its software. The primary goal for the company remains - to create a single all-encompassing 3D model that will show all the objects of the physical world. With their state-of-the-art software, AI, and vet mindset, nothing is beyond Hover’s limits.