Business management

High Growth Focus: how Housekeep has quickly transformed home cleaning

High Growth customer and CEO/founder of cleaning experts Housekeep, Avin Rabheru MBE shares his insight on successful growth and accessing finance.

Hear from Avin Housekeep founder and CEO on how the company has achieved steady growth over the past few years:

What kind of strategy is helping you grow and scale Housekeep?

“Our strategy has always been to do things right the first time, and build for the long term. That means building on solid foundations. We started Housekeep [in 2014] with some deep industry research. This meant that we understood the market dynamics. We knew where there was opportunity, and how we could make the lives of cleaners and customers better. Our focus has always been on making users’ lives better and making the business more scalable. Ideally, we deliver both at the same time. Often this means sacrificing short-term growth for long-term profitability and sustainability.”

What have been the barriers to growth so far, and how have you overcome them?

“The biggest barrier has always been hiring the right people. Whether it’s the head office team, or the thousands of tradespeople in the field. We’re always looking for the best people to raise our standards. Broadly, a misstep on people is more expensive than no step. Having the wrong person is way more expensive than not hiring at all.

“In the early days we tried to network to make sure we hired the right people. As we’ve got bigger, we’ve started to rely on a more structured process. Our position as market leader, and our reputation as a great place to work, means we can offer more tangible things for people who want to work with Housekeep – whether that’s in our head office, or by building the best place to be a cleaner in the UK.”

Did you come across any financing issues you didn’t expect as a start-up?

“The critical job of a founder or CEO is to ensure the business is well capitalised and equipped to succeed. In my experience – as an investor in young growing businesses for nearly 20 years, and as a founder for nearly 10 years – the best businesses get funded in the end.

“What I’d say to entrepreneurs who might be struggling with accessing finance is that you’ve got to learn to balance two broadly competing thoughts. The first is: you’re the founder so it’s your challenge. If something’s not working, or if people aren’t seeing the value in the business, you should take it personally and try to fix it.

“But at the same time, the job of a founder is to never give in. Remember, there are countless examples of founders who were turned down by investor after investor and went on to build successful businesses.”

The job of a founder is to never give in. Remember, there are countless examples of founders who were turned down by investor after investor and went on to build successful businesses

Avin Rabheru MBE
Founder and CEO, Housekeep

As a successful entrepreneur, how would you describe your mindset?

“I love the quote ‘hope for the best, but prepare for the worst’. That’s me in a nutshell. I’m optimistic about all the things we can build and deliver for the business. But I worry about how we’re going to put one foot in front of the other. How do we solve today’s problem now, rather than theoretical problems in the future? I think the single biggest attribute you need as an entrepreneur – and I’m not sure I was aware of this before I started – is grit.

“To me, that means always moving forward. It takes real energy and inspiration to do that. You’re not resting on your laurels in the good times. You’re not giving up in the challenging times.”

How do you combine purpose and passion?

“At Housekeep we put our personal mission at the centre of everything we do. That means getting better every day. Whether it’s delivering more for our users or learning and growing ourselves. We try to be transparent and shout about our business culture. We hire people who want to own things, grow things, learn fast, and take responsibility. It’s a two-way street. We’re asking people to deliver lots of stuff that’s challenging. So, we offer trust, ownership, and support to learn and work flexibly.”

What are your business growth lessons?

“The core lesson I’ve learnt is how little I knew before I started. I recognise how little I probably know today, and how much more I need to learn.

“As we’ve grown, I’ve also learnt that start-ups and scale-ups have quite different phases. The people, practices and processes are different. In the early days you need hustler, generalist types. As you get bigger, you need slightly more structured specialists to deliver active growth. Of course, as you start to become market leader and really drive industry change you need those more visionary types again. At the same time, you need to evolve too.”

What have you learned about accessing finance?

“As an angel investor, and having raised capital as an entrepreneur, I’ve seen it from both sides. The first thing I’d say is: don’t raise capital unless you think you can build a monopoly position or there’s some real technology that needs to be built first. Ask yourself: ‘does more capital increase my percentage chance of success or increase the size of the prize if we’re successful?’

“If you are raising capital, there's been an explosion of different options in the UK, so do your research and pick the right capital for you and the type of business you want to build.”

What’s your proudest achievement?

“It’s the number of lives we’ve impacted in a materially positive way – by making transactions that were otherwise impossible, possible. From customers, we’ve received nearly half a million five-star reviews. And we’ve radically increased the earnings of cleaners and tradespeople. We’ve reduced transport time and costs, and helped thousands of people find work. We’ve made working life vastly better, and made jobs that are otherwise difficult smarter, simpler and safer.”

For specialist insights and solutions that could help you achieve your growth ambitions, visit our High Growth Hub.

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