UrbanYou co-founders, Elke Keeley & Noga Edelstein

The Uber-effect takes hold as UrbanYou smashes $1m sales

Christine D'Mello

With on-demand services and the sharing economy on the up, UrbanYou is cleaning up all the way to the bank.

The cleaning and gardening service provider recently hit the $1 million sales mark since they launched as UrbanOutsource in April 2014.

Founded by entrepreneurs, Noga Edelstein and Elke Keeley, the enterprise secured seed funding of $500,000 last year.

“We entered the next evolution of business which is relaunching our platform as UrbanYou, focusing on the customer.”

Edelstein says they were both busy working professionals who needed to get stuff done around the house.

“To find a cleaner you would spend hours online researching Google reviews.

“It was at the beginning of on-demand. We loved the idea of being able to press a button and get someone to turn up at your door. So we left our jobs at Yahoo! and started UrbanOutsource.”

“The timing was right to secure funding as on-demand was on the brink of booming locally and internationally."

Edelstein says from the outset they have been the ‘consumer’ – experiencing first-hand the challenges of sourcing reliable home help.

“We have an empathy and understanding of what our clients want and how they prefer to engage in buying these services. We spent the initial year perfecting the model into a business that would provide exceptional service.

“The timing was right to secure funding as on-demand was on the brink of booming locally and internationally. It was through leverage of our personal networks, and involvement in exclusive organisations, such as Head Over Heels, that we were able to secure an oversubscribed funding round in October 2015.”

One of the reasons for seeking the injection was to bring the technology in-house, says Edelstein. “And be able to rebuild the platform, redevelop the platform and to invest in some operational support and marketing as well. We have been lucky that most of our growth has been organic. We have a high referral rate. Over 50% of our new users come via referrals.”

Edelstein says this year has seen on-demand services take off in Australia. “When we launched back in 2014, it was a new concept. We had to explain to people that you could book online and somebody would turn up at your house.

“Uber has been critical in driving the growth of on-demand in the last year.”

“Whereas now with the growth of Uber, people just expect to press a button and have someone turn up at their door. It’s no longer a differentiator. It’s what people expect.

“Uber has been critical in driving the growth of on-demand in the last year.”

She says a combination of consumer behaviour, technology and the provider has enabled the sharing economy to thrive.

“Firstly, the proliferation of smartphones. If you’re a consumer you can order anything and if you’re a service provider you can accept a job at the tap of a button.”

Edelstein believes the sharing economy will be a goldmine for today’s entrepreneurs. “I think now that people understand how it works, there will be a lot more opportunities.”

Edelstein says UrbanYou is pursuing an emerging trend in the on-demand sector: personalisation. “It is no longer enough to simply offer the ability to book ‘on-demand’, this is almost expected nowadays with Uber or Airbnb.

“Now on-demand is moving towards offering a more personalised experience, using data-driven methods to tailor the service offering to the user’s requirements; for example, does the user want the same cleaner each time?

“Additionally, through predictive analysis we can proactively tailor special offers to our users according to their booking history. Likewise, we can track which jobs our service providers accept and only send them relevant jobs that fit their requirements – embracing the casualisation of the workforce, which is vastly becoming a key driver behind the growth in on-demand.”

Christine D’Mello

Christine D'Mello is a freelance journalist who writes for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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