'UBER-EFFECT' DRIVES $1M IN SALES FOR URBANYOU
Written on the 25 May 2016 by Karen Rickert
ON-DEMAND cleaning service UrbanYou has marked $1 million in sales after sprucing up its online platform and branding.
Formerly known as UrbanOutsource, the Sydney-based startup connects users looking for household and gardening services with pre-screened professionals in the industry.
Communications strategist Elke Keeley and commercial lawyer Noga Edelstein (pictured left and right) developed the concept while working together at Yahoo!7 and struggled to find reliable household help.
The business was launched in 2014 and later rebranded to UrbanYou to reflect its growing customer base. The updated version features greater automation in the booking process for both users and service providers.
The relaunch has been bolstered by $500,000 in seed funding led by Grand Prix Capital last October. The investment firm specialises in online marketplaces, offering strategic advice in the partnership.
Edelstein says the sales milestone signifies the growth of the on-demand sector in Australia over the last 12 months, as the business capitalises on the 'Uber-effect'.
"When we launched, it was tough educating the market on what it meant to book a cleaning service on-demand and trust us to select a provider that was best matched to their requirements," Edelstein says.
"But as Australians started to embrace Uber and become accustomed to the concept of pushing a button and having someone turn up at their door, they've really started to embrace on-demand for other service categories as well.
"We're really excited to see that increase in growth and what the new platform delivers for us."
The social acceptance has led to increased competition in the market, including within the home services sector, but Edelstein isn't fazed.
She says new entrants focus purely on cleaning, whereas UrbanYou delivers whole-of-home services and ongoing maintenance.
"We have a high focus on quality of service," Edelstein says.
"I think because Elke and I come from the consumer perspective, we really understand that finding trusted people to help in your home is not just about technology. Although tech definitely helps, this is a personal service at the end of the day.
"Focusing on quality and services first and foremost is what's going to deliver the recurring growth that this kind of business needs.
"You can get a customer fairly easily one time, but to get them to come back and book on an ongoing basis is the real challenge for this business model. That's where we set ourselves apart."
By focusing on perfecting its business model across Sydney, UrbanYou has seen more than 90 per cent of trial users convert to regular customers. More than 90 per cent of customers have also rated its services four or five stars.
The business has a rigorous screening process for accepting providers into its network, and continues to review their performance for quality control.
Edelstein says the platform has amassed a wide range of customers, particularly time-poor urban professionals seeking instant gratification for home maintenance.
"We have a very diverse customer base, but the thing that unites them is they're very busy and don't have time to do their own cleaning, gardening or repair work," she says.
"Initially we thought this would be very focused on mums. What we've seen is while mums are definitely a key segment for us, especially working mothers, it's really people who don't have enough time to sit on the internet for hours reading endless reviews to decide who they're going to hire as a cleaner.
"We also have a lot of male customers, because men don't ask for cleaner recommendations on Facebook or talk to their friends - they go online and want it done instantly."
UrbanYou has turned its focus to national expansion throughout the year, following the launch of the new platform.
Read more about other businesses capitalising on the 'Uber-effect' here: