Eduardo Gonzalez, an internet entrepreneur, is in the business of matchmaking. His start-up provides punters with independent cleaners online, matching maid and consumer in just 60 seconds.
He launched www.homyn.com with a gaggle of graduates from top European schools in June this year. The venture nests in Polihub, the incubator of MIP Politecnico di Milano, where Eduardo earned his MBA in 2012, and where he met his co-founder. Before the MBA, Eduardo worked as a corporate finance consultant, focusing on financial analysis and M&A.
Polihub, which houses 11 start-ups just north of Milan, provides the company with a network of support from like-minded entrepreneurs.
Homyn.com may need all the help it can get. The market for online home services is competitive. Long popular in the US, it continues to grow in Europe. Homyn.com’s main competitor, Helpling, is backed by Berlin-listed accelerator Rocket Internet.
To stay competitive, the Milan venture is investing in marketing and scouting for potential partnerships. It has around 200 customers but expects to have thousands of hours of service completed through its platform by the end of 2015.
In a sector that has traditionally relied on word of mouth, homyn.com is bringing a touch of innovation to home services.
You met your co-founder on the MBA. How useful is an MBA for forming start-up ideas and teams?
I believe that the greatest value of an MBA is the people you meet and the network you are able to form. Being surrounded by mindful and intellectually adventurous people gives you an extra motivation to start your own business, and more often than not it gives you access to a pool of talented friends.
What support have you had from the incubator Polihub?
The greatest benefit is the close contact with other entrepreneurs, especially if you share, as we do, an open space. The relationship that you are able to create with people that live an adventure similar to yours, is of immense value. We constantly share ideas, take amazingly good advice and bounce ideas off of each other.
How do you source both your cleaning professionals and users who pay for their services?
We operate in a market that has always worked through word of mouth, so we started by using the same exact channel. Now, as we get bigger, we are trying to make our solution known also to people that we cannot reach directly.
As for the sourcing of the cleaning professionals, it has been the most crucial part of our job so far and the part that has received the highest investment. Home care is an activity far more delicate than often thought. Customers are allowing previously unknown people to enter their homes.
Our selection process involves multiple personal interviews, then we call the people with whom our candidates have worked for before, and finally we ask for an external opinion from people we trust that try the applicant out on the job.
The process is both time and resource consuming, and probably many a professor would cringe at the inefficiencies, but it’s of the highest importance for us to get to really know our candidates.
Who are your main competitors and what makes the service unique?
Our service is relatively new in Italy, while it has been successfully developing in the US for almost four years. In our country the main competitor is the German company Helpling, that has the power of Rocket Internet behind it.
With every month new actors are entering the scene. This signals that this is the future of home care services, and that our national market is getting ready to catch up with the rest of Europe and the US.
What sets us apart are small but relevant differences. For example: we take advantage of our smaller size and local approach to provide customers with a more personal relationship, a characteristic that we wish to maintain, even as we grow.
What challenges does the company face?
We are sure that the demand for a service that is unprecedented in convenience is potentially huge. What we face, however, is the challenge to eradicate set ways that were misguided in the past; I refer of course to the employment of work off the books, or “black work”.
Through Homyn you can access trusted and selected professionals that work autonomously in a perfectly legal manner, so that you may forget all the tiresome and complicated bureaucracy associated with contracts, taxes and healthcare contributions.
How beneficial has the MBA been for you as an entrepreneur?
There are some benefits to knowing the theory of management. But the greatest benefit comes from the network. We have already had our fair share of help from friends in the form of counsel, and help spreading the word of our service, and we continuously rely on them for advice and invaluable feedback.