Like in many big cities in the work, for time-pressed Parisians, getting home upkeep activities such as the weekly cleaning or small repairs done can be a big challenge. As work has consumed an increasing chunk of people’s time and dual-income households have become the norm, many families outsource these activities to cleaners (the always important ‘femme de menage’) or handyman which they often find through friends and word of mouth. Another non-negotiable, extremely important area where families often need help is childcare. France has a generous system that offers parents tax relief to help families better handle the financial burden of taking on full or part-time nannies, babysitter, after-school care, and some nursery services. However, finding the right person to care for your children on a short or long-term basis can seem like a daunting and, sometimes, expensive challenge.
Traditional agencies for these services (e.g. cleaning agency Shiva, the numerous babysitter agencies, etc) have attempted to step-in to tackle the convenience and ‘matching’ part of finding the right babysitter or cleaner. However, agencies can often be quite expensive and the quality of service variable. As we wrote last month, vacation lodging, taxis, pretty much anything else you can imagine… the sharing economy has started to disrupt the in-home services sector. Three international startups, Homejoy (US), Hassle (UK), and Helping (Germany) have entered the French market in the past three months with a promise to bring better access to good services to users and reduced agency-fees for service providers. Now we have a new French entry, FamiHero City, launched by a French leader in in-home services via the internet.
FamiHero City is looking to differentiate itself by to key factors: convenience and security. Firstly, unlike many existing services that require several days lead-time to schedule a cleaner or babysitter, on FamiHero City, users can reserve up to 2 hrs in advance. As standard with most other sharing economy startups, all those offering services via their platform have been verified. For them verification means that all ‘heros’ (i.e. service providers) are interviewed, have their identity and references screened, and have 95% positive evaluations (presumably those whose ratings drop below this threshold are pulled from the platform). They also offer their users insurance guarantee of 300k euros. Finally, users aren’t billed until the service is completed, for which users are automatically issued an invoice.
As the in-home service profession has always been more fragmented and less structurally organized and with few lobbies than other sectors such as vacation lodging (i.e. hotels) and taxis, as long as they maintain a similar approach to an agency for example, they should avoid some of the big pushback that the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world have encountered.
FamiHero City is currently available in Paris and the surrounding region and will soon be expanded to other large cities in France. No word if they’ll follow suit of their aforementioned non-French competitors and take their platform international.
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