No Hassle: How I Sold My Business At 30 for €30M

The Hassle story, via The Sunday Business Post: Jules Coleman, a co-founder of Hassle which was bought in July for a reported €32 million, plans to expand the on-demand cleaning startup further in 2016.

The 30-year-old entrepreneur from Leixlip, whose business is in 14 countries, said: “In Dublin we have just passed the 100,000 hours of cleaning booked mark and we have 650 cleaners using the platform just in Dublin alone.

“(In Ireland) We are only in Dublin, we don’t cover areas like north Kildare, Wicklow or Meath yet. We get demands from customers in Cork, Limerick, and Belfast so we know that there is demand for the product outside Dublin,” Coleman said. “It is something we are looking at in the medium term. It is unlikely to be before Christmas, but in 2016 it is absolutely something we would like to do.”

Coleman (pictured above, far right) co-founded Hassle with Alex Depledge and Tom Nimmo in 2012. The start-up had raised $6 million from Accel Partners before it was bought by Berlin-based rival Helpling in a cash and shares deal which valued her business at a reported €32 million.

The former management consultant with PwC and Accenture has stayed on as global chief product officer at the combined business, which employs 400 people. The company is chaired by Ron Zeghibe, the founder of taxi booking app Hailo, and has been nicknamed in the press ‘Hailo for cleaners’.

“A sale wasn’t the path we were looking at, but the more we got to know [Helpling] the more we realised that they were nice guys and we had a lot more similarities than we had differences,” Coleman said. “Our business is a city by city play. You can have a turf war as we have seen play out in the States.”

She said Hassle could have raised €20 million in new funding to allow them to go “head to head” with Helpling. “In the end though we felt that would lead to sub-optimal outcomes for both of us probably,” she said.

Coleman was speaking prior to an event organised by Intercom in Dublin’s Mansion House. She said a key piece of advice for startups was to realise that everyone is guessing. “Every founder is making a guess on some spectrum of educated,” she said.

“There is a lot of fear of failure in Britain and Ireland, that if I haven’t guessed right I am going to be out on my ear and lose the funding and that is it.” She said Hassle had come close to running out of cash by having 27 different service categories such as gardening, personal training and dog walkers. “We looked at the data and realised that cleaning was the most mainstream service, the one most likely to succeed so we threw it all away and started again,” she said. “There is a lot of talk about building a minimum viable product, but always remember to focus on that ‘v’ in the middle.”

Originally published in The Sunday Business Post.


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