Come to clean up the UK market
30 June 2014
US start-up Homejoy – an online professional cleaning service – has launched in the UK. It comes off the back of rapid growth: since it was established in 2012, Homejoy has expanded its operations to over 30 cities in North America and received a whopping $38 million in venture capital investment, led by Google Ventures and Redpoint Ventures. Cleaning Matters spoke to co-founder Adora Cheung to find out more about their plans for the UK market
Cleaning Matters (CM): What is the concept behind the business?
Adora Cheung (AC): Homejoy is a simple online service that lets you quickly and conveniently book an affordable, reliable, professional cleaner for your home. Simply go to www.homejoy.co.uk, add in some basic information about your home and when you want it cleaned, and Homejoy does the rest – all in less than 60 seconds.
CM: How does it work?
AC: Homejoy uses a sophisticated algorithm that matches cleaners with customers. Cleaners list their availability and their geographical preference, so when a Homejoy customer goes on the website to book a cleaning, the system can maximise the cleaner's hours of work and ensure that every customer can find a cleaner who fits in with their schedule. Every cleaner is tested and vetted by Homejoy and reviewed by customers so high quality is guaranteed.
We're able to perfectly match supply and demand. Homejoy's system benefits not just consumers, who get a lower price and more convenient scheduling, but cleaners as well, who often earn more than the industry average and can better plan their commutes.
CM: How did Homejoy come about?
AC: I started Homejoy with my brother Aaron back in July 2012. We were both working in his apartment in San Francisco and after a while the place got so dirty that we decided to get a cleaner. However, Aaron found that traditional cleaning agencies were too expensive, but he didn’t know enough about the individuals advertising their services online (through sites like Craigslist) to trust them to come into his home. Finding an affordable, reliable, trusted cleaner was a nightmare. That’s when we had the lightbulb moment, and came up with Homejoy.
We wanted to build an online service that not only makes it easy for anyone to book an affordable cleaner in seconds, but also gives independent professional cleaners a platform to be matched with clients and build up their own business.
We checked out the market first hand and got the insight we needed – I worked as a cleaner for a national company for a number of months – and then we built the Homejoy platform in a weekend.
Since we started, the company has grown rapidly as a business and now operates in over 30 cities across North America, in Canada, as well as launching for the first time in London in April. The support of our customers and the dedication of our staff has helped Homejoy scale easily into each additional city. Now we’re excited to replicate that model in the UK.
CM: Why do you think Homejoy has been so successful in the US?
AC: Our company motto is "everyone deserves a happy home”, and we pride ourselves on the quality of our service and the positive difference we make in every community in which we operate. Customers love our online platform because it is quick, convenient and simple to use.
But the key to our success has been the great network of reliable cleaning professionals we work with, providing our customers with the highest quality service day in, day out. We find that professional cleaners love to work with us too, because we offer excellent, flexible work opportunities that suit them.
CM: How did you react when the company received $38 million in venture capital investment, led by Google Ventures and Redpoint Ventures?
AC: We were obviously humbled to receive such strong support, and it’s really great that our investors believe in everything we are trying to achieve as an organisation.
CM: Why did Homejoy choose London as the location to make its first international debut?
AC: We see a lot of similarities between the US and UK markets. Cities like London are full of busy people looking for simple ways to save time and cut down on chores. That’s why there’s such a great opportunity for Homejoy – we remove the hassle and make it easy to find a reliable, background-checked cleaner for your home.
In terms of our business, London has become a home-from-home for Silicon Valley start ups and the tech talent pool in this city is growing every day. It’s a good fit for us to launch Homejoy in Europe and we’re looking forward to rolling out our service to other major cities in the UK over the coming months.
CM: What response has Homejoy had in the UK so far?
AC:The response we’ve seen so far has been great. We’re currently recruiting for experienced, reliable professional cleaners who want to work with us, to keep up with exponential demand.
We have big ambitions for Homejoy and believe that we can have a really positive impact. Homejoy is aimed at everyone – from big families to student houses, singles to roommates – because everyone deserves a happy home.
CM: What is your opinion of the UK cleaning market and does it differ in any way to the US market?
AC: We’ve found the desire for a happy and clean home to be relatively standard no matter where Homejoy goes, and overall it’s just the logistics that change from city to city.
CM: With the success you've achieved, there will no doubt be others looking to set up similar services. How do you hope to keep Homejoy one step ahead of the competition?
AC: We will continue to focus on our own performance, and doing the best we can for our customers and the cleaners we work with. We have a really great group of staff at Homejoy and a fantastic network of cleaners, and we’re all working together to help the organisation develop and reach as many customers as we can.
CM: Do you have any entrepreneurial advice for those looking to start a business in the cleaning industry?
AC: Come work with Homejoy!
Homejoy charges £13/hour, of which the cleaning operatives receive between £8 and £9 on average.