Imagine this: You just endured a two-hour traffic, a stressful day at work, yet you still have dishes to do at the kitchen sink by the time you get home.
This is one of the problems Cleanhome.ph co-founder James Yabut encountered when he first moved in with his wife in their first home. “When we first moved in to our condo, we didn’t have any household help. So cleaning up our condo eats up so much time, we had to look for a cleaning service.”
Like any entrepreneurial mind, he came up with a concept: Cleanhome.ph. The young startup offers cleaning services for condominium owners for as low as P350 ($7.35), aiming to become the "Uber" of cleaning. It currently caters to homeowners in the cities of Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, and Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.
Yabut collaborated with Hack and Hustle founder Mike Monroe Yu to incubate the startup and provide the technical needs of the company and built the website from scratch.
Yu shared the Cleanhome.ph founder actually wanted to provide appliance installment to plumbing services at first. “But that idea is too broad and demands so much manpower so we focused on cleaning instead,” he shared.
Providing a living
But the duo would not have been able to fly the idea without the pillars of Cleanhome.ph.
Former overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Allura Apellyido was one of the first cleaners the startup tapped to jumpstart the idea. At 42, Apellyido has had difficulty looking for employment in the country.
“I was an OFW at Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) for seven months. I initially applied as a caretaker of a special child then, but when I got there, I faced a 3-story building I had to clean every day. I didn’t last long,” Apellyido shared in Filipino.
A single mother of a college student, Apellyido shares how the company has helped her provide a living for the family. Cleanhome.ph gives each cleaner much like how a minimum wage worker earns, complete with government benefits and food allowance. “I'm lucky to still be given a chance to work at my age, and still go home to my family every day.”
The cleaner is one of the three other women who keep the startup running every day. On average, each cleaning lady tidies up four homes, usually owned by yuppies and young couples, and Apellyido is happy to share she has earned avid patrons of her service.
“As of now, I have more than five customers who I service every week,” Apellyido said. “It’s a great option to earn compared to working as an OFW, or accepting laundry from other homes.”
The company trains each cleaner at par with the International Housekeeping Standards that big hotels follow, on an average of two weeks, or until the cleaner feels confident, Yabut shared.
From personality development to skills improvement, the founders are keen on maintaining a standard for the brand to build customer trust. All cleaners are provided with the cleaning chemicals and tools they need once inside a unit. If homeowners are wary of safety, all cleaning ladies get their bags checked before and after the service.
“Right now, we’re at the stage where we grow based on customer feedback. We’ve tweaked the website at least four times since October and all because we want to constantly keep the company better,” Yu added.
At their surprise, the duo has found a larger market with AirBnB unit owners, an accommodation listing website that provides alternative option for tourists than the usual hotels. At present, 70% of the homes the startup caters to are from this segment.
“This is what makes the startups exciting. We never know what the customer will want tomorrow so we constantly reinvent ourselves.”
The founders are hopeful once the startup grows they can cater to at least 30 to 40 homes every day and open the services to the larger public, much like how Grab and Uber tap private car owners to provide services to their customers.
Once the business model progress to such, cleaners may also take home a much bigger income, based on the services they are willing to provide.
“...We just want to be hands on. But at this point, it’s more of getting customer feedback and building the brand,” Yu added.