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Cleaning and Home Services Startup Handy Hits One Million Bookings

80 percent of the company's bookings come from repeat customers.


Handy, the booking tool for cleaning and other home services, is celebrating for two reasons today. It’s the New York-based company’s three-year anniversary, and it just hit one million in bookings. The company says that half of those bookings came in the last seven months, meaning its growth is accelerating.

“Over the last year we’ve focused on making sure we improve the experience for customers and [cleaning] professionals in every city we’re in,” Handy CEO Oisin Hanrahan said to Re/code.

It’s a hard-won milestone. Since launch, Handy has struggled to balance growth and quality, initially sacrificing the latter for the former. A former employee told Re/code that although Handy gained users much faster than its Bay Area competitor Homejoy — mostly through marketing — it was losing these newly acquired customers and cleaning professionals at a fast clip.

“As with any young company, you’re going through a constant evolution, figuring out which bits are working and which bits aren’t,” Hanrahan said. To solve the quality and retention issue, Handy stopped launching new cities entirely last year and spent the time improving the product and its underlying systems. As a result, 80 percent of the company’s bookings now come from repeat customers.

Handy co-founder Umang Dua says that reaching scale was key for keeping both sides of the marketplace happy. Customers then see availability whenever they do searches and professionals can book multiple jobs in one part of town, cutting down on travel time.

“Cities like New York and LA and Chicago are hitting a critical mass,” Dua said.

Handy isn’t the first, nor will it be the last operations-focused startup to struggle with the balance between growth and quality. Bay Area favorite and Y Combinator graduate Homejoy has been navigating its own struggles and is currently negotiating the terms of a potential merger with Handy, according to multiple Re/code sources.

Dua and Hanrahan wouldn’t comment on how close they were to settling a deal with Homejoy.

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