Every week on The Primer we ask a local business or product to introduce themselves in eight simple takes. This week we talk to James MacAvoy, co-founder of Goodnest, which is a lot like Uber, but for getting your house cleaned.
ONE: How did Goodnest start and what was the inspiration behind it?
Goodnest started out of a combination of really two key things. In the US, we saw the rise of the on-demand economy, and we owned a business at the time called TreatMe (once part of TradeMe) that was suddenly seeing a surge in growth thanks to deals focused on home services such as gardening, cleaning and plumbing.
TWO: Did you have any interest/experience in business or entrepreneurship prior to starting Goodnest?
Yes. Prior to Goodnest, I started and led a management buyout of TreatMe from TradeMe. I also worked at Xero in the early days and at TradeMe. Prior to that I also founded Fatso with my brother from a bedroom.
Richard Humphries [Goodnest co-founder] worked at Yahoo! In the UK, he worked at TradeMe from the very early days and founded Trade Tested, an online retailer of outdoor goods.
THREE: Who is Goodnest designed for? Who’s your target market?
Our target market is any New Zealander comfortable on a computer or mobile device who wants a better and easier way to find great professionals to get stuff done. Typically this means people in their 30s onwards, normally owning a home. But we also see people moving apartments needing our help with end of tenancy cleans, or older people who need a hand keeping on top of the weeds. Over the years we’ve seen our audience broaden as Kiwis get more comfortable and aware of the benefits of an on-demand platform.
FOUR: When it comes to the cleaners, do they need any qualifications? And are they also background checked/insured by Goodnest?
There are limited qualifications around for cleaners, so we allow anyone who ideally has had previous professional experience cleaning to apply to our platform. Once they’ve applied we background check them. Then we assess their cleaning abilities before allowing them access to customer bookings. From there, customers provide feedback after any job done on Goodnest (not just cleaning) and this feedback is monitored by our operations team. Professionals on our platform often have insurance themselves, but in any case, we provide an additional layer of protection as part of the benefit of using Goodnest.
FIVE: How much does the average cleaning job cost? And does someone have to be there to let the cleaner in?
Our average clean would cost around $75 for someone using us every fortnight. You don’t have to be there to let the cleaner in: we provide an encrypted security note that allows you to reveal things like alarm codes or the location of a hidden key. This security note is only revealed just prior to the job starting via our app or mobile browser. We do find some customers like to be there on the first clean, which is fine as well!
SIX: Last year, Goodnest received a $1 million funding boost courtesy of backers such as The Warehouse’s Sir Stephen Tindall and TradeMe’s Sam Morgan (who also has a 19% stake in the company and provided early seed capital). Tell us about how that funding boost came about.
We’d been working for a couple of years focused solely on the cleaning side of the business. In that time, we started trialling other services that customers were demanding like deep cleans, electrical work and plumbing. This grew and grew, and we realised to build a platform that “just worked” for consumers and professionals was incredibly difficult. Apps, machine-led job resourcing, managing supply and demand, and inferring from data what was going to happen at each subsequent step in a job life cycle were all necessary things to build. To do this right, we released that we needed more resources to grow our tech and product teams. We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve built, even by world standards, but know there’s still more to do and so are thankful to our supporters for seeing and believing in that same dream.
SEVEN: Do you any other plans to scale/grow further and if so, what are they?
We have plans to introduce an even easier and better way of booking jobs which should be out in the next few months. Sorry, that sounds cryptic, I know. But it’s not far away now. We’re constantly straining under the demand for our service so we;re constantly building technology to let us scale our platform and have the professional supply ready to meet that growing demand. This year, you’ll see some rapid changes to our consumer apps as we’ve been solely focused on our professional app which is finally live and letting people find work from the comfort of their phone.
EIGHT: Lastly, tell us about a start-up or business that you really admire right now
Like many people, I’m really fond of following the development of SpaceX and Tesla. Both are businesses that are doing what many would consider too far-reaching and likely to fail. Both have challenges ahead, but the traction they have and the story so far is uncommon and inspiring. It’s important that we all don’t fall into the trap of thinking about business, opportunities, and technology so iteratively. Both of those companies really remind me of that.
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