Here in Chile, nanas are an institution. Short for the English word “nanny,” nanas are the ultimate superwomen: an admirable mix of babysitter, chef, and housekeeper, many middle- to upper-class Chilean households would fall apart without their invaluable help. As an American who has lived in a number of developing countries throughout my life, I realize that the concept of hiring help for many of the daily chores that I was raised doing myself is not a novel one. What sets Chile apart from other countries is the level of confidence, reliance, and trust with which nanas are endowed. Many Chilean families form strong relationships with their hired help, especially as their nanas commit to working for them for years or even decades.
The problem is, what if you are a foreigner just moving to Chile? Or a younger Chilean couple that is moving into their own apartment for the first time? Or maybe just a busy family that has neither the time nor energy to devote to completing daily chores as well as finding a reliable housekeeper? For these demographies, it can be a daunting prospect to find a person whom you can not only 1) trust to occupy your house while you are gone during the day, and 2) trust to do an outstanding job with chores.
Chilean startup HogarImpeque is seeking to fill this need with an online, on-demand cleaning service.
Taking care of the small stuff in a big way
Hogar Impeque was born when the co-founders, Sushaantu (India) and Cátherin (Peru), were facing difficulties looking for housekeepers for their apartments upon moving to Chile. After speaking about their frustrations with friends who were experiencing similar challenges, they quickly identified a market need for an intermediary service that eliminates the process of searching, interviewing, and verifying references for nanas. HogarImpeque was born to fill this need by providing an online, on-demand service for cleanings with their own cadre of verified, confidence-worthy nanas. Their website allows clients to schedule cleanings on the date and hour of their choice; clients can decide to schedule a cleaning when they are home, or leave their key for the cleaner while they’re away. Hogar Impeque’s pricing is based on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. For a 1-bedroom, 1bath apartment cleaning the price is 15,000 CLP.
Sushaantu and Cátherin have come up with a number of different ways to increase demand, including gift cards for cleanings. They’ve also created a feedback system presented to both the client and the cleaner after every cleaning service. As Sushaantu told AndesBeat: “I think feedback has been instrumental in coming up with better pricing, better processes and overall more customer happiness after each service. It helps us understand the problems felt by both parties and helps us come up with better solutions, which can satisfy both.” Hogar Impeque proudly strives to not just provide a service, but also create satisfactory, fulfilling jobs for their housekeepers.
Move aside, Mr. Clean
The service is rapidly expanding in Santiago. HogarImpeque now has 350 clients, a 200% increase from the beginning of this year, many of whom are repeat clients that use the service regularly. With a trusted cadre of 10 high-quality housekeepers, HogarImpeque has expanded from providing cleaning services to 4 neighborhoods throughout Santiago at the end of 2013, to 9 neighborhoods as of May 2014. It is clear to us here at AndesBeat that a huge element underlying HogarImpeque’s success is its obsession with customer satisfaction. The team tracks the number of times a customer renews the service, and considers repeat customers a hugely important metric for success. Sushaantu told AndesBeat that customer satisfaction has the added benefit of serving as cost-effective marketing: “More often that not, happy customers become our ‘free cheerleaders’ and promote our brand on social media.”
The Impeccable Team
Cátherin Olano and Sushaantu are quite the accomplished, international duo. Before starting Hogar Impeque, Catherine worked as a community manager at Digitaria & iCrossing where she managed big brands like Tottus, Salcobrand, Lancome, and Clorox. She also worked as a content creator for multiple geographic portals of Trabajando. She now manages the operations, marketing, and human resources at Hogar Impeque.
Sushaantu is a designer and coder by profession and a business graduate by education. He has worked in startups all his life. Before starting Hogar Impeque, he worked in a media startup called MPedia which experienced significant success at 4 million page-views a month. He then started an ecommerce business (which failed), became the first employee at one of India’s fastest growing startups (Visual Website Optimizer), then launched a retargeting software called Targeting App which was selected for Startup Chile. He now applies his diverse startup knowledge to the business, finance, design, and technical sides of Hogar Impeque. Type Zebra and Boot My Strap are two of his side-projects.
The HogarImpeque team has aggressive expansion goals, including:
- Improving the HogarImpeque.cl site
- Creating mobile phone apps for iPhone and Android
- Growing the client base by 50% per month
- Expanding to other comunas both inside and outside Santiago, to include Valpaíriso, Antofagasta, and Concepción
- Tentative plans to expand to Peru, Uruguay, and Brazil in 2015
Cátherin and Sushaantu realize that for an international expansion push to succeed, a great team is a prerequisite. As Sushaantu notes:
“It’s important that everyone in the team – particularly in the early days – realize the vision and work towards achieving it together. We believe there is a need for such service in pretty much every major city in Latin America. A good team and capital to keep it going is crucial.”
To finance their expansion, HogarImpeque hopes to leverage revenue from current sales, as well as investment from angel investors. The team notes that a lack of private angel funds within Chile is one of the largest challenges facing their startup. Sushaantu notes that “since much funding is linked with CORFO, it can be difficult for a growing startup to go through the multi-step, often bureaucratic process of obtaining CORFO funding.” In addition, the team believes that more payment gateway options and better banking facilities for startups owned by foreigners would make operating a startup substantially easier.
Irregardless of funding challenges, we at AndesBeat are confident that with its exceptional service and dedicated, talented team, HogarImpeque is poised to capture a significant share of the cleaning services market not only in Chile, but throughout the region. As always for HogarImpeque, quality trumps quantity. As the team told AndesBeat:
“It’s important for us to make sure we provide good quality so customer happiness is the priority. We want to grow, of course, but not at the cost of quality.”
We wish more startups took this customer-centric mentality. Looking forward to you cleaning up the competition, HogarImpeque!