Oisin Hanrahan and Umang Dua, co-founders of Handy, know that growth is no longer considered crucial for startups. New businesses are being tested on whether the big idea is reasonable enough to grow in profits without tons of cash.
Handy.com began in 2012. The financial crisis was receding and venture capitalists were keen for on-demand ideas. The VCs that joined with Handy suggested that the co-founders ask for more money, and focus on their start-up full time. The land grab against rivals, for the next couple of years, often meant outspending rivals.
In July 2015, Handy’s biggest competitor, Homejoy, went out of business; a bad and good news situation. The bad news was that capital markets had changed and the good news was that there wasn’t a big competitor fighting with aggressive unit economics. There was room at the company to focus on sustainability rather than pure growth.
The biggest problems Handy was facing were low ratings and complaints by customers and typical home cleaning business internal structural issues. Home cleaning businesses have a “high-cost-of-failure”.
The cheaper solution was to outsource customer service although it meant giving up some control. Both co-founders say it was a painful experience to lay off their customer service workers.
The initial loss of revenue during the rolling out of the self-service platform was worse. But as time went on, the shift to more chatbots has proved successful. It’s effective and got the company to a size that made economical sense.
Although Handy has stayed in 28 markets instead of expanding to new ones it has made gross margins positive and with the adjustments made internally the burn rate has steadily fallen. The company expects that sometime in the latter half of 2017 it will turn over profits and be able to launch in new cities and one new service, at least. For more info, visit https://www.handy.com/cleaning-services/new-york.
Handy wants to clean up as it get you cleaned up. The CEO, Oisin Hanrahan who is also a founding partner of Handy, refers to the company as the Uber of home maintenance. Handy will lets you order a handyman, a home cleaner or a plumber, just with a tap on your smart phone. Hanrahan compares Handy to Uber as it is similar to a transportation platform, minus associated surge pricing.
Just like Uber, the company is a marketplace, handling payments and schedules on the supply and demand of the dynamic home services industry. The company is growing steadily. Led by Highland Capital and General Catalyst Partners who provide baseline numbers, the company has raised more than $12 million by the second quarter of the year with their sales have grown by 60% each month. The NY-based company now has approximately 100 employees and thousands of workers who complete more than 10000 in a moth. Handy is operating in more than 13 cities in United States and plan to open four new offices in Boston. Earlier this year, the company bought West Coast Cleaning, for a figure estimated to be around $10 million.
But how do Handy offer convenience to its customers to the prevalent unreliable, convenient and often sketchy maid services and cleaning industry? The company has created a platform with clients accessing their services on the website or on an app synchronized on people’s smart phone. All you are required to do enter a zip code, the room you need cleaned, convenient time to start the cleaning and a price quote comprising taxation and tip.
The company screens all its freelancers through references, background checks and in-person interviews and with hundreds of thousands who have applied, only 3% of them have been accepted. The company provide a refund guarantee in case the clients fail to like their services and always cover replacement cost in case anything is damaged.
Handy was founded in 2012 by Oisin Hanrahan, Umang Dua, Weina Scott and Ignacio Leonhardt graduates from University of Harvard. The company was branded Handy as it was a place to book for handyman and cleaning services.
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