This week on my Parents in Business series I’m delighted to be featuring Ana who founded her own tech start up: TidyChoice, allowing customers to review and choose their professional cleaner online, which sounds perfect for busy Mums like me who haven’t got time to be looking for a cleaner for that extra help around the home.
Ana’s story is one of success, although it hasn’t always been easy juggling setting up and running a business with a small child in tow. But fast forward five years, and some of her initial bookings are still running today, which is an amazing achievement, and how Ana views her own success. Her top tips include being prepared for the journey and to run with it. Have a read…..
Tell me a little bit about you, your background, and your business?
I grew up in Barcelona. As a little girl I was always fascinated with machines, I pulled them apart to study the intricacy of how all the different parts worked together. To fuel my fascination, I went on to study Telecomunicatons Engineering and Computer Science at PhD level. I lived and worked in France and the US before moving to London 10 years ago.
My career has taken me from tech research, product development and tech consulting to founding my own tech start-up, TidyChoice. TidyChoice is an online platform for domestic cleaning and housekeeping services in London. We launched five years ago and have been growing steadily ever since. One of our key selling points is that we allow customers to browse profiles and reviews online before choosing their professional cleaner and booking them directly online. Our technology handles all admin tasks like payments and scheduling.
What were your motivations for setting up your business?
I needed to find a reliable cleaner and could not find one! So I decided to use my technology know-how to create an easy way to find reliable professionals online. Domestic cleaning is a very fragmented, traditional sector with outmoded practices so I was excited by the commercial opportunity as well.
Fairness is very important to me and is an important driver for the business. Our platform disintermediates agencies so the cleaners get fairly paid. They choose their own areas, hours and rates so they are truly independent and not beholden to an agency. We also make sure that customers get good value for money by vetting all the professionals and allowing them to choose the cleaner that suits them best.
How do you balance the business around your family and childcare?
I launched TidyChoice when I was actually pregnant. That was not brilliant planning! I had to become very creative in juggling my new-born baby with building the business. For a while, little Daniel was part of our team in the office and could be heard often in the background of those early business calls.
I would have to admit that the initial years were not easy and I often found myself working late into the night and getting pretty exhausted. However, my husband was a great support both in spending time with Daniel and in supporting me emotionally.
In order to balance my work life and family life I set myself deadlines to complete each day so that I know what I am using my time productively. After a certain time, I shut my laptop off to make time for my family. Being an entrepreneur means working long hours and weekends but having the support of a good team and husband means that I can find the balance with home life.
Since setting up your business what’s been your biggest success to date?
Most start-ups fail so bringing the business to breakeven and getting a great team in place is an achievement in itself. We have managed to grow steadily and become profitable. We have one of the strongest booking retention rates in the sector and this is the key to our success.
Most of our bookings are weekly or fortnightly which gives us recurring revenue streams. It is important for our revenue that these bookings are retained and last a long time. Because cleaners are matched with customers and are happy working independently at a fair rate, our bookings tend to be “sticky” and last a long time.
It makes me proud when I see that we have many bookings that have been running for four or five years around the time when we first started. This is unusual in a sector renowned for high levels of attrition. It tells me that we are doing the right things.
What are your top tip for anyone who is thinking about setting up their own business?
Understand that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Learn to be patient when setting up your own business as things never progress at a speed that you want. Having a good business partner and supportive family and friends is really important in helping you stay optimistic when things go badly and keeping you grounded when things go well. Be prepared for a roller coaster but the satisfaction and rewards are definitely worth it.
Thank you so much Anna for taking part in my series it has been a pleasure to feature you.
If you like what you’re reading and would love to be part of my Parents in Business series just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a nose at some of the other businesses I have featured in the series: Zoe Hiljemark, Inscripture, and Love Ladies Business Group.