BERLIN, June 3 German venture capital firm
Rocket Internet is expanding its latest start-up Helpling, an
online platform for booking professional cleaners, to France,
Sweden, the Netherlands and Austria, it said on Tuesday.
Helpling, which only launched in Germany in April, allows
users to book a licensed cleaner online in 60 seconds, taking a
20 percent commission of the 12.90 euros ($17.60) per hour it
charges for the service.
Berlin-based Rocket Internet, backed by Swedish investor
Kinnevik, was founded in 2007 by the German Samwer
brothers Oliver, Marc and Alexander, who have gained a
reputation for cloning online businesses in new markets.
Online cleaning booking services are already well
established in the United States and Britain, including firms
like Homejoy, Handybook, Hassle and Mopp, but have yet to take
off in most of continental Europe.
Helpling co-founder Benedikt Franke sees big potential for
the business as it takes care of the administrative hassle of
invoicing and payment, and provides insurance and customer
service, giving it a big advantage over black market cleaning.
"If you think that only 5 percent of cleaners are working
legally, there is unbelievable growth potential," Franke told
Reuters, adding Helpling was considering expanding to more
markets in future.
The company hopes to take advantage of tax credits in
countries like Germany and France established to encourage the
cleaning industry - which Helpling estimates is worth 32 billion
euros in the five countries it is now active in - to go legal.
Franke said Helpling, which vets cleaners before they are
booked and encourages customers to rate them online after they
complete a job, already has several thousand customers in
Germany as well as several thousand cleaners on its books.
($1 = 0.7328 Euros)
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Sophie Walker)