Jim Hickey’s American Politics

Let's Get Real.

The Rise of Handy

Handy came about just like many other business ideas. Two friends were sitting around shooting business ideas to each other when they suddenly realized that they were living in deplorable conditions. There was trash all around the room and boxes filled with furniture bought months ago that was still waiting to be assembled. This led the two to pursue the idea of how they could disrupt the home services industry, Handy. In order to overcome many of the traditional challenges businesses in this area face the pair of them decided that their workforce would rely on freelancers. The two friends were Harvard Business School room mates Oisin Hanrahan and Umang Dua.

Both had a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit to them before this venture, Dua had started a networking company on techcrunch.com in India to help with college admissions and later went on to consult for McKinsey & Company. Hanrahan on the other hand had done everything from converting unused attic space in to penthouse apartments in Eastern Europe to founding a non-profit that would serve to recognize the smartest undergraduate students in the world. Who would have thought that the two of them would end up taking on the home cleaning industry.

After coming up with the idea the two began actively recruited cleaners who wanted to work as freelancers, Handy on fortune. Shortly thereafter, in the summer of 2012 the pair was accepted in to Highland Capital’s startup incubator. It was here that the two received an initial seed round of $2 million from Highland Capital and General Catalyst. The motivation and drive to succeed were evident in the two founders as they went off to job sites and got their hands dirty cleaning right along side their employees.

In its first year the company ended up doing $3 million in revenue, an act that is commendable in itself. However by 2014 the Handy was performing $1 million each week in services for its clients. With a workforce of over 5,000 contractors who performed at least a job a month this was no longer a small business. Handy had taken on an additional $10 million in venture capital and was aggressively expanding its reach. In 2014 it was performing home cleaning services in 25 American cities, two in Canada, and even across the Atlantic Ocean in London.

In order to maintain a high quality workforce the two decided that applicants would be thoroughly screened prior to employment with Handy. With hundreds of thousands of applicants since the companies inception only a handful actually work for the company, which boasts a 3% acceptance rate. This is due to the thorough background check, interview, and reference check that is performed on each prospective home service professional. At the rate its going now it will not be long until Handy is as ubiquitous as Uber.

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