When Alex Hebert and Ian O’Halloran were looking to start a business in 2013, they were in search of a traditional brick-and-mortar sector they could bring to the web and scale up.
At the same time, Hebert and his wife welcomed their first child. The many messes that accompany parenthood led the pair to find help with the housekeeping. Hebert’s frustration with getting a quote, co-ordinating a reliable, independent cleaner and maintaining a standard of quality was enough to convince him there was an opportunity in the field.
A year later, Mopify was born. The platform connects a team of housekeepers in cities across Canada with homeowners in need. Scheduling and online billing are built right in, and homeowners can usually arrange to have the same cleaner come to their homes on a regular basis, maintaining a consistent relationship.
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After just four years in the business, the team of 12 full-time staff has expanded to six cities and assembled a crew of roughly 400 people that has cleaned more than 13,000 homes. Over the last three years, Mopify has grown its revenues by 538.56 per cent.
It’s a big market, Hebert says. According to his research, more than 10 per cent of Canadian families employ outside help to keep their homes in order.
Though it’s a new solution, Mopify has an edge in that its fundamental service – house cleaning – has been around since the dawn of time.
“It’s not like we have to educate a market, saying, ‘Hey, there’s this new thing called house cleaning, you should try it!’” Hebert says.
Fastest Growing Companies: Mopify
Year founded: 2014
Local headcount: 12
Product or service: On-demand house-cleaning platform
Three-year revenue growth: 538.6%
2018 ranking: #7
Cleaners in the firm’s service require two years of professional experience to work on the platform. Hebert says quality and customer service are what fuel Mopify’s primary marketing campaign: word of mouth. He admits that attention to these details drives up the costs of customer acquisition and growing the team of cleaners, but those expenses drop as kind words spread.
That, combined with an easy no-strings-attached opt-in, has helped the firm find its footing.
“Once they try it, they love it, and that’s what’s really been fuelling our growth.”
By the end of the year, Mopify hopes to expand to the United States, eyeing mid-sized cities such as Denver and Minneapolis as footholds in the American market. Hebert says metropolises such as New York City and Los Angeles, while ripe with opportunity, create demands that don’t suit Mopify at the moment.
“We do better in more suburban areas where it’s bigger houses and longer jobs,” he says.
The Mopify model might sound like an Uber or an Airbnb – the type of sharing economy disruption that venture capitalists would flock to – but Hebert says the firm has little interest in taking VC money right now. The firm has a bit of debt financing to fund its U.S. expansion plans but Hebert says Mopify’s focus on quality isn’t suited to the kind of rapid scale-up that Silicon Valley investors are after.
Mopify is growing quickly and sustainably by ensuring that in every new city it lands in, the firm is able to find suitable cleaners to maintain its high standard of service. Taking VC money, he says, could push Mopify to tarnish that record.
“They have to be good at what they do, or obviously our model just doesn’t work,” he says.