#130 – Businesses I LOVE #3 – A pool business, closet building, pest control, damage remediation, property management

Show notes from Episode #130 of the Sweaty Startup Podcast.

Nick and Max Maher sit down again to talk about their favorite businesses that are relatively easy to start. Most of these are on Nick’s Businesses I Love list, and are great opportunities to start out with little money or experience.

Know Your Market

  • These businesses are great ideas, but they won’t be right for all cities.
    • Pool cleaning can be a lucrative opportunity in Phoenix, probably less so in Minneapolis.
    • The first step with any idea is to get on Google, find the top ten competitors in your area, and call them all.
      • If they’re not answering the phone, take too long to turn around quotes, or are booked out for over a month, that may be your opportunity.

Pool Cleaning

  • This was Max’s first business in Arizona, and with a vehicle you can start it for as little as $700 and learn the skills online.
  • In warm climates pool cleaning can provide a recurring revenue source that’s consistent throughout the year, and the market is huge.
    • There are also plenty of unprofessional pool cleaners and pool owners that are tired of cleaning their own pool.
  • Leads are easy to identify, as every house on Google Maps with a pool in their yard is a potential client.
  • Cleaning somebody’s pool gives an informal first dibs at any repair for broken pool equipment.
    • Max insists that this is pretty intuitive and easy, so you can either upcharge to do the repairs yourself or refer them to somebody who will give you a cut of the profit.

Closet Building

  • Nick recently built his own closet in Athens after two local builders were booked out for months and charging $3k for the bare minimum.
    • Nick spent time online, put in about 25 hours of work, and came out with three times the closet for half the price that the builders had quoted. You can even check out the guide on his website.
  • Competition is relatively thin, so it’s easy to rank on local Google results.
  • Average jobs can run $2-4k, so with just a couple hundred jobs a year you can make incredible profit.

Home Inspection

  • If you’re handy at all, you can begin home inspections with $200 in tools and $700 on a four week online certification. Nick even put together a useful guide on it.
  • The average home inspection pays $200-500 depending on the house size, and one person can knock out around five in a day.
  • There are SAAS offerings that will streamline the reporting you have to do after your time at the house.
  • Opportunity for word of mouth referrals by getting connected with local realtors and mortgage brokers.
    • Show your face, gain trust, and don’t lose closings to make these connections.
  • Opportunity for side income in thermal imagine, utility savings, or small repairs.

Pest Control

  • Requiring low skill and offering recurring business, this is a great adjacent to lawn care companies. Nick offers a guide on starting a pest control company.
  • The business is low touch and offers a lot of potential upsell with organic chemicals and add-on services like weed control or fertilization. 
  • The downside is that this tends to be a competitive market, with many companies doing it well.

Home Restoration

  • The capital requirement here is higher, with a startup cost closer to $20k. But when you look at businesses for sale, some of the top listings are restoration companies.
  • Plenty of homes all over the country suffer smoke damage, water damage, or damage from natural disasters. If you’re well versed and can build trust, there’s an opportunity to make a lot of money here.
  • Each job is a bit more complicated with many stakeholders to deal with, but the average job price lands at around $13k. Further, you can contract out anything that you don’t want to deal with.

Property Management

  • Max and Nick both love real estate, and love businesses that lead into real estate. In essence, real estate is all about data, and the best way to get that data is in property management.
  • Many property management businesses are run like it’s 1980; they don’t care about their client, they don’t market, and they’re incentivized to not work.
  • Identify places for rent on Zillow and get in touch with their owners. Promise to pay them what they’re currently making through rent, and half of the incremental proceeds. They will accept.
  • Contract out all maintenance, and do a great job of getting multiple quotes and vetting services before paying them. Along with making the homeowner money, you need to gain their trust.

Ghost Kitchen

  • Food delivery has boomed recently through Uber Eats, Seamless, and Postmates, among others.
    • This has opened up the market for ghost kitchens, delivery-only restaurants without a physical location to dine in.
  • Ghost kitchens have much lower cooking costs, don’t need prime rental space, and save significantly on expenses like servers, equipment, and tables.
  • Effective marketing and precise execution can set you up for a consistent source of income without facing many of the issues that traditional restaurants deal with.


Pool cleaning [1:50]

Closet building [7:20]

Home inspection [10:30]

Pest control [13:15]

Restoration company [14:50]

Property management [17:40]

Ghost kitchen [23:35]

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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.