With its recent $750,000 round of seed funding from Australia’s Airtree Ventures, Sydney based startup TidyMe is now in a position to begin competing with the likes of other well funded startups and online marketplaces playing in a similar space.
TidyMe, founded by Stacey Jacobs in July last year, is an online marketplace that makes it easy for users to book a cleaner in Australia. At the time of launching, Jacobs said there was nothing like it in Australia, and there was no platform where you could easily just book a cleaner in 30 seconds online, especially one that uses ‘green’ cleaning products. Jacobs was no novice to the challenges of launching a two-sided platform, having worked a solid four years in other startup environments, including startup focused education company General Assembly.
Tidy Me’s business model is quite simple, the platform connects customers with a cleaner and TidyMe charge a $35 hourly rate to the customer. From there, incentives exist for the customer to do a more frequent clean. For a weekly clean, it’s a 20 percent discount and a fortnightly clean is offered at a 15 percent discount. All crew members get paid a flat rate.
While the team at TidyMe may refer to cleaners on the platform as crew members, they are all actually independent contractors that have gone through “a very strict selection process” before being allowed onto the platform.
“This is how we maintain our quality control,” says Jacobs. “We literally have hundreds of people applying through a very lengthy online form process. Once they pass that process, they get taken through a phone interview. Following that, we do reference and background checks, then an in-person interview, in-person test and then they can be qualified to join the platform. That way they get sent out jobs and they can accept or decline those jobs.”
Although $750,000 in seed funding for a startup may seem like a lot of money to assist in accelerating growth, the market that TidyMe plays in is becoming increasingly crowded. In addition to Rocket Internet backed cleaner-marketplace Helpling, it is also competing to a certain degree with platforms like OneFlare and Service Seeking that also allow users to connect with cleaners. Even Fairfax, via its Babysitters and More marketplace, are dabbling in a similar space connecting its 250,000+ parents with house cleaners.
For TidyMe to become top dog in a space where its competitors are backed by millions and billion dollar entities, it needs to not just win over customers and keep them, but also needs to really understand its data, and leverage this to out-manoeuvre the other companies.
Big data is something that Jacobs said has been drilled into her since she began working for a Fashion Tech startup in London years ago. That company was using data to predict fashion trends in real-time.
Now, Jacobs is using many of those techniques to understand and predict certain trends within her own startup: “From a very top level perspective, we’re a subscription business, so we are looking at how we can deliver huge amounts of value to our customers to get the biggest time value out of them.”
“We want our customers to be with us as long as possible. So that’s where data plays a really interesting part to look to where people might be turning, [when we should] re-engage them, and identify different things like trigger points of why people might churn.”
Understanding these insights is going to be critical for TidyMe, as it strives to achieve the growth it is chasing. It also should be noted that Jacobs is more than aware she is up against some pretty big competition that also understands the data game.
“It is a very hot space at the moment. We were the first ones to market it in Australia but it’s super hot. It’s kind of replicating where the daily deals market was two to three years ago,” says Jacobs.
“Everyone is rushing into the space. That to me basically validates what we’re doing. Now that we’re taking on this investment, we’re in a really good position to break ahead of that pack. We’ve got not only the financial support from Airtree, but also in my opinion, they’re the best VC firm in Australia. With their previous ‘marketplace’ experience, Daniel and Craig and Paul make a really formidable team.”
With a few hundred subscription customers at the moment, the core focus for TidyMe is on growth and expansion within Sydney. Then the startup will begin to launch its operations across other cities on the East Coast, using its data as a tool to understand where it should launch next and the changing trends within the overall marketplace.