These Second Generation Entrepreneurs Are Bringing the Family Business Into Your Home

By David Martin

Their family owns one of the most high-profile facilities management companies around. But Jae and Janie Yu thought, “Why can’t we offer the same services for homeowners?” Now they do.

Ah, the joys of homeownership.

There are few things that make the heart swell with pride more than a freshly manicured lawn or a successful do-it-yourself kitchen project.

But, of course, there’s another side to the homeowner experience, since there are few things more frustrating than a fizzling air-conditioning unit in August, a burst pipe or a water heater that decides not to heat water in the middle of winter.

Yeah, we’ve all been there.

That’s where Jae and Janie Yu, co-founders of BuiltWell, step in.

BuiltWell - How it Works from Tiny Giant on Vimeo.

The Family Business

To fully understand the BuiltWell story you’ve got to go back a generation. Both Jae and Janie’s parents are the embodiment of the American Dream, immigrating to the United States from Korea and starting successful businesses.

When Jae’s family came to Chattanooga, he spent countless hours with his father and uncle renovating homes, and in doing so, his skillset ballooned with valuable know-how related to just about everything under (and sometimes on top of) the roof. While that was happening, Janie’s parents started a modest janitorial service and grew it into one of the most well-known facilities management companies in the area. Jae went on to get a formal homebuilding education, including heating and air conditioning as well as electrical and plumbing training, and Janie earned a realtor’s license.

The two grew up watching their families build businesses, so they had a front-row seat of what entrepreneurship in the trenches looks like. They also invested deeply in the maturation of their own capabilities. So, with all these factors in play, it was only a matter of time before they decided to launch their own startup.

Industrial Solutions on a Residential Scale

So we don’t have to name actual names, just think of some of the biggest industrial sites in the Chattanooga area.

No really, do it.

Chances are you just thought of a couple of Janie’s parent’s clients. And since family businesses usually draw on the resources of an entire family, once Jae and Janie were married, they both became very involved in the day-to-day operations of her family’s endeavors.

After a while, though, they both began to talk about what it would take to bring the services they delivered to their big-name clients into the homes of their friends and neighbors. Because, really, the types of problems they’d solve are very similar — the biggest difference is scale.

And the best way to remedy those problems on the industrial site and in your home? Catch them before they happen.

Yes, preventative care.

A Proactive Subscription-Based Home Management Service

Most folks only peek around their attic when it’s time to lug out holiday decorations. Such sporadic “inspections” (if we even want to call them such) are also made of HVAC units, gutters, deck work and anything else around the home.

BuiltWell, however, will do that inspecting for their subscription members.

Instead of waiting until a homeowner horror story happens, the BuiltWell team will routinely visit your home and inspect it from top to bottom, inside and out. When they’re there, they’ll also do chores like changing out lightbulbs and air filters, while also making cosmetic fixes and providing mechanical services and specialty cleanings (included in the subscription membership). And if they catch anything that requires more intensive work, they’ll bring it to your attention and work with you to figure out how you want to address it.

What’s more, if anything troubling happens around your home between scheduled BuiltWell visits, they’ll come out to assess the situation. In this regard, Janie likes to call BuiltWell a “concierge service for your home.” They want to be the one phone number homeowners know to call for everything related to their house.

Facilities Management for the Rest of Us

It’s always interesting to see what ideas second-generation entrepreneurs come up with, iterating on what their parents created.

BuiltWell is essentially democratizing an enterprise-level service, taking what they’ve learned on the big scale with their family and bringing it to homeowners, realtors, Airbnb hosts and more.

It’s a solid idea, helping protect a homeowner’s most valuable asset, and it will be fun to watch the BuiltWell business grow.


David Martin is a co-founder of Heed Public Relations.