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The founders of Hassle (from left to right): Tom Nimmo, Alex Depledge and Jules Coleman.
The founders of Hassle (from left to right): Tom Nimmo, Alex Depledge and Jules Coleman.
Image: Daren Cook/Hassle.com

Why 'Hailo for Cleaners' decided to abruptly change strategy after just a year

After launching in Dublin this week, Hassle’s Irish co-founder talks about teaching herself how to code and the importance of focusing on one core feature.
Jul 13th 2014, 5:30 PM 33,093 20

WHENEVER A NEW service or app arrives, the temptation to try to be everything to everyone will always exist.

While the rewards for such an approach is vast, more and more services are opting for simplistic experiences instead. Dedicating one function and doing it well is essential in a world that demands simplicity, especially since apps and smartphones have come into play.

One service which recently launched in Dublin and follows this mantra to a tee is Hassle.com. Describing itself as a ‘Hailo for cleaners,’ its goal is ease of use and accessibility by letting users book a cleaner in 60 seconds for €12 an hour.

Yet while the aim and execution is very simple, this wasn’t always the case. Instead, it came after an attempt to take in all freelance areas and making the tough decision to drop it all for one area.

When it first launched in 2011, it covered more than 25 different professions such as personal trainers and driving instructors, but it soon realised that a startup taking its first steps wasn’t the best fit for this.

For Hassle’s Chief Product Officer (CPO) Jules Coleman, who co-founded the company with Tom Nimmo and Alex Depledge, it was a case of scale and ambition not seeing eye to eye.

“Basically we found that [for] a young company without a lot of money, it’s really hard to be great at 25 different things all at the same time,” explained the Kildare native. “The lesson we learnt the hard way the first time around is that as a young company… [don't] spread yourself too thinly.”

Since most people were using the service to look for cleaners, the team decided to scale back during Christmas 2012. After taking the site down and updating it, the current version of Hassle launched on 2 January and has progressed from there.

The idea was we would focus on cleaning with a really good app and put all of our effort into this one thing, roll it out to a number of cities, and in time, we can start looking at other areas again, but when we do that, we’ll be more considered and structured about how we add them.

This week, the company launched its services in Dublin, having focused on the UK market. The aim is not only to expand across Ireland, first to Co. Dublin and then the rest of the country, but also across Europe as well.

After the first day of its launch, the company received more than 700 applications from cleaners wanting to join the service. Since trust is a major issue, the company has a strict vetting process to ensure everything’s above board.

hassle-product-4 An example of the interface customers use when choosing a cleaner. Source: Hassle.com

This process would involve filling out an application form, taking a phone call from the company, bringing them into their Dublin offices to meet them, check their references and even when they’re approved, they look at feedback from customers to see if they are reliable.

While it’s a comprehensive approach, the company is usually able to get through the process “within a week or two because we let the cleaner know straight away if they haven’t made it to a certain stage… We’re not keeping people waiting, we’re very transparent on that.”

Ultimately, the process is to ensure that the standard of its service is as high as possible since people trusting it and those who get work through it is what will make or break the company.

“What we’re selling here is trust and convenience. Trust is a big thing for us [and] it’s really important that we have a physical presence in Dublin as we want to meet each and every one of them in person.

Yet the greatest lesson Coleman learnt from her time running Hassle is the barriers to entry have fallen dramatically in the past five to ten years. This was reflected in how the company started out, mainly with two of its founders teaching themselves how to code to make their idea work.

“Myself and Tom (one of Hassle.com co-founder), when we left our jobs, we taught ourselves to code to begin,” said Coleman. “We didn’t have any money when we started, we literally bought a book and learned to code and up until eight weeks ago, we were the only developers in the company.”

Overall, the experience has held them to good stead and for Coleman, it shows how drastically the cost of starting a business has fallen in recent times.

“You don’t need to be buying servers and you don’t even have to be hiring people to build things.” says Coleman. “It is possible to teach yourself and do it for just your client basically for the cost involved.”

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Quinton O'Reilly

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