The UK home cleaning market continues to lather up. Hot on the heels of Hassle.com’s $6 million fund-raise from Accel Partners, local rival Housekeep is announcing it’s closed a $1 million investment led by Pentland Group (majority owner of JD Sports and numerous other major brands), with participation from a number of angel investors including Brett Akker and Justin Peters, the founders of Streetcar (acquired by Zipcar) and Kabbee, respectively.
Others joining the round are John Hewett, the CEO of Smedvig Capital; Dharmash Mistry, non-executive director of Hargreaves Lansdown and Dixons; Paul Hewett, non-executive director of Tesco Bank; and an unnamed Addison Lee technical lead.
In other words, this is a group of investors that appear to have a decent mixture of tech, consumer and retail chops. In the domestic cleaning space where technology plays second fiddle to building a strong consumer brand, that doesn’t look like such a bad fit and is quite impressive considering Housekeep, founded by angel investor and former VC Avin Rabheru, launched a mere three months ago.
That said, as Hassle’s recent Series A round demonstrates, the home cleaning market is destined to get messy. Other UK competitors include Mopp, whom we’ve been hearing are extremely close to closing their own Series A funding, as well as heavily-funded and U.S.-based Homejoy, which crossed the pond last month. There’s also TaskRabbit, which offers domestic cleaners, and its many local competitors. And who knows how long before Rocket Internet’s Homejoy clone, Helpling, expands beyond its home market of Germany to the UK.
It’s within this context that Housekeep, which is currently only available in London but plans to expand to other UK cities soon, claims a key differentiator by going beyond primarily acting as an introductory service for cleaners and customers, pitching itself as a “fully-managed service.”
This means, in addition to offering cleaners who are vetted and insured — as everybody else presumably does — Housekeep tailors its service to each customer via an “on-boarding” call when they sign up, and offers fixed prices based on this, as opposed to an hourly fee. However, Hassle, for example, also makes quite a lot of noise regarding not simply offering a one-size-fits-all service.
I’m also hearing that Housekeep plans to quickly expand into other home services. It’s already getting demand for cleaning services that are not typically handled by a standard cleaner, including oven cleaning, fridge cleaning, and carpet cleaning. Customers are also requesting other non-cleaning related services, such as gardening, car washing, dog-walking and delivery collections. Should it expand its “trust”-based platform to offer a broader range of home-services, this would put the UK startup much more squarely in TaskRabbit territory.
As I said, this is going to get messy.