As we prepare for our event Experience as Product: Startups in the Service Space, we're increasingly impressed with how entrepreneurs are leveraging technology in new ways to drastically increase the availability of services. These service companies tend to operate at the confluence of marketplace models, location technology, peer-to-peer technology and gig economy popularity. Nearly all identify as technology companies that scale.
Perhaps what is most impressive is that these startups are beautifully balancing the delivery of an often complex service that feels personal with the imperative to scale their product. Here are 10 of our favorites!
Book your local, trusted cleaner
Handy is an app that lets you get your life in order. In addition to cleaning services, customers can book Handy professionals to complete any other task that may be found around the home, from electrical work, to plumbing, to TV mounting, interior painting, and storage. Harvard Business School classmates Oisin Hanrahan and Umang Dua founded Handy in 2012 to take previously individual specialties, for which a household may have to contract 5 or 6 professionals at least to complete the tasks, and put them under one easy-to-use umbrella that allows you to book these services on-demand in one location. Instead of spending time on the phone or going over estimates in person, Handy provides online booking and payment for a seamless home maintenance process.
Affordable, Local Moving Services
Bellhops offers moving services with a twist. Chattanooga-based and launched in 2011 by Cameron Doody and Stephan Vlahos, Bellhops allows college students, rather than corporate moving companies, to earn an income while helping people move in over 25 partner cities. Specifically recruited from sports teams, these movers are young, friendly, strong, and ready to help. Their main selling point is that their website can offer clean and quick quotes, and services can be booked immediately, instead of around the calendar of one of the corporate moving companies.
Keep Your Home Running Smoothly
Hello Alfred provides busy homes with their own personalized butler. Started as a solution to founders Marcela Sapone and Jessica Beck’s crazy schedules, Alfreds, named for Batman’s trusty butler, can complete any task you assign them while you are at work or out with friends. From picking up dry cleaning to mailing packages and stocking the pantry, Alfreds are college-educated employees of Boston-based Hello Alfred, ensuring consistency and a corporate-mandated level of training, as well as benefits for the backbone of the company. Often using similar services like Uber, Instacart, and MyClean to complete some assigned tasks, Hello Alfred is the epitome of the on-demand economy.
We make it easy to run your office
Managed by Q is the only B2B on this list. While many on-demand services from food delivery to transportation and moving can be applied in a business setting, this startup is specifically focused on the office space. Born in New York City’s Chinatown in 2014, Managed by Q provides businesses with a dedicated team that is on call to help with cleaning, maintenance, and supplies, and allows for office managers to chat online with the staff directly to put in requests. Their dashboard has received praise from clients who find it easy to summon someone to fix an office problem, and their employees are thankful to be contracted, rather than participants in the gig economy, receiving benefits, contractual pay, and the opportunity for promotion within the company.
Personal Interior Design by the Hour
Homepolish is the brainchild of panelist Noa Santos, who realized that the interior design industry needed to make elite services more widely-accessible. Homepolish contracts the best designers nationwide who can offer clients blueprints and proposals which will be executed for a standard hourly rate. Homepolish’s customers can choose the services and the time slots that work best for them, and designers can work remotely using their video conferencing interface. Homepolish is a unique applications of on-demand service, and has been a force in refreshing the interior design space by making the same quality of design available to anyone for a uniform price.
An On-Demand Dog Walker or Dog Sitter Near You
Wag has taken the chore or neighborhood service of dog walking and made it available to all. Co-founder and CEO Joshua Viner founded Wag in LA as a solution that made dog ownership easy for people with limited time. Usually dog walking and dog sitting is completed by friends and neighbors, but Wag has brought the opportunity to anyone who is looking to make some extra cash and spend time with furry friends to cities across the country. Additionally, Wag helps out those who did not have a friend or family neighbor to reach out to for this very specific service before. Wag is fun for the walkers and one less thing to worry about for consumers, exemplifying the beauty of niche gig work.
Elite Beauty Room Service Style
NOMI Beauty offers luxury services for the luxury customer. Guests at New York’s finest hotels can request hair, makeup, and nail services right to their door. The beauty of the NOMI experience is that its stylists are vetted through the company rather than in-house professionals working for one hotel. This ensures consistency for NOMI customers no matter where they stay, and allows stylists to pick up jobs all over Manhattan rather than being tied down to a contract. NOMI has taken the luxurious ease of on-demand room service and applied it to beauty services.
Postmates’ tagline does not indicate that it is unique, even within the on-demand economy. From Seamless to Grubhub and UberEats, many companies have tackled the food delivery space. When it first gained traction, Postmates was noted for featuring restaurants that were yet to partner with a food delivery app because postmates, their delivery men and women, were willing to wait in line for any item a customer may desire. But what really sets San-Franicsco-based Postmates apart is the app’s capability to allow you to request anything. Postmates specializes in delivery across the board, allowing independent contractors to choose their hours while delivering a new suit from the store of your choice, packages from the post office, or gym shoes to your work. Anything is possible with Postmates.
Massage Delivered To You
Soothe offers one of the most luxurious services on this list. You can book a Swedish, deep tissue or couples massage to your home, office, or wherever you are when the need strikes. Masseuses do not have to contract with one massage parlor and can pick and choose which jobs are a good fit. Founder and CEO Merlin Kauffman created Soothe in 2013 so that busy people on-the-go, or even just individuals who would prefer to be in the comfort of their home, could have the option to request a massage in as little as an hour to the convenient location of their choice.
Shyp is better shipping
While probably offering the least interesting service on this list (shipping or, shall we say, "shypping"), Shyp is doing great things for its customers. Kevin Gibbon founded Shyp in 2013 because he was frustrated as an eBay Power Seller. Now catered toward individuals, home businesses, and companies, Shyp takes the hassle out of shipping for everyone. Most people have spent hours waiting at the post office or comparing carrier rates to ship their gifts, homemade goods, or business products. Shyp’s easy-to-use platform allows shipments for pickup, postage, and delivery to be scheduled via desktop or mobile.
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Have an on-demand startup? Join us on June 26th with Homepolish, NOMI Beauty, and Fluent City for drinks, networking, and a panel discussion on "Growing a Startup in the Services Space."