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How a Cleaning Company Turned a $20k Website Into a $9M/year Business Without VC Funding
[March 01, 2017]

How a Cleaning Company Turned a $20k Website Into a $9M/year Business Without VC Funding

NEW YORK, March 1, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- In today's ever-present startup culture, speed is almost always tantamount to success. How quickly a company can raise money, bring in talent, acquire users, penetrate new markets and raise more money are just a few markers tied directly to its performance.  Taking in no VC dollars, outsourcing your website to a developer a country away and relying primarily on customer service and word of mouth may not be the blueprint that most modern startups are looking to follow; however, it's worked out quite well for us.

Launching a cleaning company in late 2009 with no previous technology skills or entrepreneurial experience was quite the undertaking.  From hiring a developer, then another and then another until we found the right fit, to having 0 full-time employees when we started (just me and a phone!), the odds were hardly in our favor.  But there were three areas where MyClean wasn't lacking – heart, hustle and vision – and that made all the difference.

We started with an "Uber for Cleaning" model, but outsourcing our cleaners to attend to our customers' needs quickly proved to be a failure, resulting in a series of one-star reviews on Yelp and a whole bunch of un-scalable business problems. We needed to pivot, and quickly.  Operating under one of our core values of ensuring the highest level of customer and employee satisfaction, MyClean made the switch to convert our cleaners from outsourced, 1099 contract workers to W-2, full-time employees. Our cleaners are all now fully trained to deliver on MyClean's 50 Point Checklist and receive an array of afforded benefits, like health insurance, paid sick leave, workers comp and 401(k) options. By treating our employees well, we're ultimately servicing our customers too—even if this means that our prices are 10% - 20% higher than our competitors who contrct their cleaners.

Since this shift, we have grown from a company that used to operate out of my tiny apartment to a business that generates $9M annually, has over 200 cleaners and 20 office staff employees, has completed more than 375,000 home and office cleans since launching and averages over 2,000 cleans a week between NYC and Chicago.

After 8 years of ups and downs, seeing various cleaning services (some with tens of millions in funding) come and go and employing unique and often far more extensive processes, MyClean has never been more proud of our past, excited for our future and confident in the phrase—slow and steady wins the race!

Lessons Learned:

Pick a market where you know demand exists.  Prior to launching MyClean, there were members on our team who'd had the same cleaning lady stop by once a week for 6 years.  While giving a copy of a key, leaving money out on the table and not really being able to communicate due to a language barrier was fine at the time, we knew there had to be a better, more efficient way. 

Remember your core vision but don't be afraid to pivot based on what your clients are telling you.  Our initial vision was one of a technology company that was creating an engine that would allow customers to book, pay and communicate online.  However, our customers were telling us that while they liked the convenience of being able to book online, the overall service was not up-to-par.  We therefore knew we had to pivot and become a cleaning service that hires, trains and manages its cleaners.

Trust your gut when it comes to outside capital and other major business decisions.  Starting in 2012 we saw the rise of "Uber for X" companies and the home services space became a "hot sector."  Over the next three years we would see two competitors raise $64M and $110M in VC funding respectively, and a handful of others who raised anywhere from $2M - $10M.  At one point we were receiving inquiries from a new venture capital fund nearly every day.  They all wanted to "invest" and "scale" my business "hockey stick growth."  However, we knew that the "Uber for X" model did not work in the cleaning space due to the quality control issues we experienced early on.  We also knew that VC's who are looking for a 10x return on their investment in five to seven years had a different vision of what "scale" meant than we did.  We therefore have never and will likely never take on venture capital.

Put people first.  It sounds simple but so many business leaders miss this point in their quest for global domination.  Our core focus at MyClean is to: Create and keep happy homes for our clients while building sustainable careers for our team.  The only way that is possible is by keeping the best interests of our employees and customers at the heart of every decision.

What's Next? 
Continuing in our company's spirit of startup counter-culture, we recently unveiled our new revamped website, utilizing an "anti-surge" pricing model.  Our new mobile-friendly site features this new, dynamic pricing engine, which incentivizes our customers with discounts for booking cleaning services during slower days and times, offering value to save more when you are more flexible with your schedule. In doing this, we are staying true to our mission of providing superior value to our customers, while simultaneously creating the best and most sustainable opportunities for our team.

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