HomeJoy: When a startup dies.

HomeJoy: When a startup dies.

HomeJoy Startup


Is what happened to HomeJoy a sign of what’s to come with hundreds of other startups?

Forbes had a great writeup of HomeJoy and their impression of what went wrong with the startup.  I’ve used the HomeJoy service a couple times, both times I was taking advantage of their fantastic coupons that both them and their competition Handy offered. Those great $19 – $29 for a two hour cleaning coupons.  They would show up, carrying all the supplies, and spend two hours cleaning my apartment. The only condition to actually get the deal was that you’d sign up for recurring service, they wanted you to let them come clean your apartment every two weeks for roughly $84/each visit.

If you were like myself and many others that basically bounced around from copy cat startup to another copy cat startup only chasing after the deals, you’d email right after your first visit and cancel the recurring subscription.  There were no fees.

My second observation is that the overall cleaning that HomeJoy does, isn’t very good. (Handy suffers from horrible cleaners as well)  Both Handy and HomeJoy have very subpar cleaners, they both expanded way too fast and didn’t have the proper training in place to ensure a uniformed experience, at the time of HomeJoy’s shutdown, their Yelp listing is loaded with complaints and HomeJoy only carries a 3.5 star review.

One cleaner said she would do the bathroom, kitchen and living room while the other tackled the remaining spaces. In two hours’ time, the person in the living room said she dusted and vacuumed/mopped, but didn’t bother moving the couch or small side table to actually vacuum. Things were missing from the bathroom, and I can’t tell that she did anything in the kitchen at all. My mop and pale were dry, so she seems not to have done her job by the common definition of the term. What is the point of calling in advance and booking appointments for people to rob you blind?

Chris S. (New York, NY)

Are you looking for a cleaning service that will insult you, bitch and moan about cleaning 10% of your home, clash and bang everything than can be clashed and banged all while you’re at home and definitely within earshot?

“You can’t even take a rag and wipe shit down, I’m supposed to make a miracle out of this?”.

This lovely woman then proceeded to yell at me causing enough of a ruckus that a neighbor came upstairs to check on my well being.

Emily C. (New York, NY)

HomeJoy seemed to point towards their lawsuits as being the larger problem as to why they shutdown.  Homejoy cofounder and CEO Adora Cheung told Re/code that the “deciding factor” was the four lawsuits it faced from cleaners who claimed they were misclassified as independent contractors.

HomeJoy may point towards their lawsuits as the reason behind their shutdown, but it may have just been their inexperience in quality and running a company.

Homejoy cofounders and siblings Adora and Aaron Cheung. (Courtesy Homejoy)

Homejoy cofounders and siblings Adora and Aaron Cheung. (Courtesy Homejoy)

  1. Marketing
    They created campaigns that put the cost of acquiring a customer at around $60. Each customer that used their coupon for a discounted cleaning cost them money. Investor Money. (Handy also has the same high acquisition costs, expect their promotions to become a lot less frequent now that their biggest competitor has left the market.)
  2. Bad Service
    HomeJoy couldn’t keep their attention to detail under control, they over promised and their actual cleaners under delivered.  (Handy) suffers from the same problems. Expect this to become more apparent in future months.
  3. Lawsuits
    I do agree that the lawsuits didn’t help, they are going to pop up amongst the other startups as well, but I believe if they were actually making money, the lawsuits would have just been a small drop in the bucket.

Bye Bye HomeJoy, I’m looking forward to the next pack of cleaning startups to appear.

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