ST. LOUIS — While living in Denver, Benjamin Anderson worked as a dog sitter. When he was watching puppies, he’d boost his income by renting out his apartment through Airbnb.
Key to his Airbnb operations was a robust cleaning regimen.
“One thing I would always try to do would be to book a house cleaner before I would come home,” said Anderson, CEO of St. Louis-based Wand USA Inc.
But finding a cleaner on demand, when needed, was a challenge. That led to the creation of WAND, his startup company that's produced an app to facilitate scheduling, payment processing, in-app reviews and communication for cleaners and consumers. The company, launched in 2018, is headquartered in St. Louis and operates locally as well as in Denver. The startup launched its platform publicly in December.
While the company was pleased with its initial roll out, Anderson said the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges. One of the app’s key consumer segments is Airbnb hosts, which have seen their bookings dry up due to COVID-19.
“Our saving grace is that we are in the cleaning space,” said Anderson “We’re weathering the storm pretty well.”
Anderson said his staff has placed focus on product development during the pandemic to position itself for growth when the virus subsidies. The startup sees opportunity ahead.
“When the world reopens, there will be a brand new national focus on cleaning so we are excited for that,” he said.
The company this week launched a beta version of its app that it describes as a "primetime version" that is "built to scale with the new national focus on cleaning." Moving forward, WAND aims to raise more financing and hopes to use the funding to expand its operations to more cities.
The technology: WAND has created a mobile-first platform designed to connect cleaning professionals to consumers through its app. The app facilitate's scheduling, payment processing, in-app reviews and communication between the cleaners and consumers.
How it makes money: WAND makes 25% on every new lead booked through its app. Of that total, 20% comes from commission on the payout to the cleaner and 5% is a surcharge against the customer. For example, if the customer pays $105, the cleaner receives $80 and WAND keeps $25.
Size of the market: With operations in St. Louis and Denver, WAND estimates those two cities have a $90 million market size, based on data from Mergent Intellect. The company projects its total addressable market is valued at over $51 billion with an estimated 7.2% compound annual growth rate.
Competition: The St. Louis startup counts other online marketplaces, specifically those that include cleaning services, as its competition. Competitors include Handy, Takl, Task Rabbit, Craigslist, Angie’s List, Yelp and Thumbtack.
Competitive advantage: WAND said its “end-to-end” platform creates value for both consumers and cleaners. For consumers, it says its app provides a proven return through the service provider. For cleaners, it says its app provides an outlet for customer retention in addition to offering a low cost to convert new customers.
Managers and their background: Benjamin Anderson is the startup’s CEO. It is his third startup following one modest exit and another company he describes as a “learning experience.” Chief Technology Officer Gerald Caussade is a local entrepreneur that has created and sold several software startups.
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