Are you unhappy with your cleaning service? Your local handyman? Thanks to the advance of the Web and adoption of mobile services, a handful of startups have popped up to take advantage of an opening they see in the fragmented and slow-to-change home services space. As many local cleaning and repair services continue to live offline, offer atrocious websites (or none at all) and show up late, Handybook launched in June of last year to help people find better, trustworthy professionals to take care of their household needs.
After raising $2 million in seed funding last year, Handybook announced today that it has received a significant, new influx of capital, led by General Catalyst Partners, Highland Capital Partners and TechStars co-founder David Tisch, among others. With this $10 million Series A raise, Handybook now has the capital it needs to expand beyond its home stomping grounds in New York City and begin operating in five new cities by the end of the month.
Along with its impending arrival in Dallas, San Diego, Houston, Atlanta and Seattle, the startup is also releasing a new version of its mobile app, which will be compatible with all iOS devices. Like its web service, the app aims to simplify the process of booking cleaning or repair services, cutting it down to three steps. Select the service that you want, confirm the time you want the cleaner or repairman to show up, and then enter your email address.
Like HomeJoy, Exec, MyClean and GetMaid, Handybook wants to take advantage of the growing number of people that are turning to on-demand services (particularly cleaning), as well as increasing comfort people have with using their mobile devices to search for, book and rate these services. However, the principal difference between Handybook and the startups mentioned above (among others) is that, while the majority focus on cleaning, Handybook wants to do both — cleaning and repairs.
To that end, Handybook currently offers on-demand search and booking for three types of “household services”: “Handy person”-type jobs (assembling furniture, mounting your TV, etc.), along with plumbing and moving.
While these types of services seem complementary to cleaning, and some of the startup’s competitors dabble in offering household services, most have focused solely on cleaning because, in part, it’s a competitive enough space as it is. Plus, as mentioned above, it’s fragmented, is tough to scale while maintaining a trustworthy brand and quality — whether of jobs, employees or customer service
It remains to be seen how effectively Handybook will be able to manage each of its tentacles over the long run. However, for now investors seem to be optimistic over Handybook’s potential, and, as is often the case, that’s because the startup has been able to maintain a quick and steady growth rate.
Handybook has seen its user base double month-over-month over the last four months, co-founder and CEO Oisin Hanrahan explains, and has been seeing fairly consistent double-digit growth in bookings this year. The company is also currently seeing users book thousands of jobs each week, the CEO added.
Beyond that, Hanrahan seems to believe that Handybook can gain a competitive edge by not hesitating to pull the trigger on expansion. Today, the startup offers coverage in eight cities, and by the end of the month, it will be in 13 markets. That’s not bad for just being just over a year removed from launch.
Handybook and other startups of its ilk also have the benefit of timing, or at least it seems that way from the “all boats rise on a rising tide” rule. Uber has really been the first to on-demand, mobile-first services to achieve “crossover” success — in the taxi industry or any other — and the “Uber-For-X” model is all the rage among startups as a result. Unsurprisingly, the on-demand luxury car service provided part of the inspiration for Handybook, Hanrahan says.
While both Angie’s List and YP are big names in the local repair service market, Handybook sees both companies more as partners than potential competitors. Whereas both have taken the “Yelp route,” by offering a search and reviews engine, Handybook is taking a page from Uber and working to round up the fragmented local service providers and become their digital booking and billing engine.
Yes, there’s a lot of competition out there, but there are also a lot of dirty apartments and houses — and broken toilets for that matter. But will there be more than one winner?