Riding the Paris metro or walking the streets, it’s impossible to miss the increasing number of advertisements for tech startups. Airbnb, Drivy, Blablacar, Uber – the sharing economy is after you, whether you’d like to share or be shared. And, in the past 60 days, the latest war isn’t over your car, or your bed, but over your dirty floors.
Since September, three different services offering cleaning services online have launched in Paris – HomeJoy (US, Y-Combinator), Hassle(UK, Accel-backed), Helpling(Germany, Rocket Internet) & Handy (New York, not yet launched in Paris). These four services compete not only with each other, but with traditional maid services in Paris, like Shiva.
Differentiation in this market will be hard, and these companies are competing to attract cleaners, who, in Paris, have increasingly rejected working for cleaning services due to the increased taxes imposed by the state. In addition, these services compete for your floors – churn rate on house cleaners is relatively low beyond the one-off uses – once you’re hooked, you’re not going anywhere.
Nonetheless, the largest points of differentiation of the product happen behind the scenes. For example, while Hassle charges customers the least here in Paris, the cleaners themselves actually make the most, due to Hassle’s use of the Auto-Entrepreneur status. Homejoy, on the other hand, provides materials to all of its cleaners, where other services require clients to provide materials.
Handy has begun to branch out into repairman & plumber services, while Hassle CEO Alexandra Depledge says that, while users are used to paying a flat rate for cleaning services, plumper & repairman rates have so many variables that it’s difficult to put a standard price-tag on a catchall service; therefore, Hassle has chosen to focus on providing the best cleaning service.
I gave one of the services a test drive, and the service is simple: i selected a time and a cleaner was chosen for me. She was punctual, was polite, was well-dressed & professional, and she asked questions when she couldn’t find something. After she had been working for an hour, I left her alone in the house and went off to work, and when I came home, the place was clean. For someone like me, I could easily imagine having a 4-hour clean once every two weeks.
The market is still young, but it money is being poured into this market fast. The next 12-18 months will be key for this market in France – interestingly enough, no significant players from France have emerged beyond the ‘old world’ brick and mortar models.