Rocket Internet’s Helpling moves beyond cleaning to offer additional home services

“We are in this for decades; it’s just the beginning of home services coming online,” Helpling co-founder Benedikt Franke told me during an interview all the way back in March 2015.

At the time, the Rocket Internet-founded company operated in a single vertical with an app that let you book a ‘vetted’ cleaner to come to your home.

However, the broader vision was always to offer a range of home services. That vision finally comes into focus today with news that Helpling has begun adding window cleaning, furniture assembly, painting, and more to its on-demand home cleaning offering.

The new services, which I understand have already been trialled for several months, are initially launching across 15 German cities including Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, and Cologne.

A global launch, including in the U.K. via subsidiary Hassle, which Helpling merged with in 2015, is planned for later this year. In the U.K. alone, the company faces competition from Fantastic Services, Handy, and TaskRabbit, to name just a few.

In a call yesterday, Franke re-iterated Helpling’s long term home services play, describing home cleaning as the company’s “entry vertical,” chosen first because it is probably the most tricky to pull off in terms of both logistics and trust, but also because it forms the basis for lots of cross-selling.

Once you’ve persuaded consumers to hand over their house keys and trust a Helpling booked cleaner into the most personal aspects of their home, selling them additional home services via the same brand, app and booking process is less of a challenge. Or so the company’s thinking goes. I’m told that 85 per cent of Helpling’s current business is already “recurring”.

With that said, Franke stressed the need to add new home services in a considered manner, revealing that not all of the additional verticals trialled by Helpling had made the cut — at least not yet. As he explained, the more data required from a customer to book and accurately price a job, the more complex it is to offer that particular vertical.

Noteworthy in today’s announcement is that, unlike home cleaning, Helpling is working with more than 150 partner companies, not just individuals, to offer the additional home services.

Some of these are ‘micro businesses’, such as in the case of window cleaning, which is a market that is still fragmented in a similar way to home cleaning (and therefore ripe for a better way to connect supply with demand) but in which Helpling doesn’t have to sign up individual window cleaners to its app but can work with the head of a 25-person company, for example.

Adds Franke in a statement: “Searching for a reliable window cleaner or painter has traditionally been an inconvenient and frustrating task. You typically have to wait weeks in order to book an appointment and the estimated costs rarely meet the final price. Our aim is to rearrange and improve another non-transparent market through technology. By the extension of our business model, Helpling is firmly positioning itself as Europe’s leading brand for household services.”