At the award ceremony at the end of the first day of the international PODIM Conference in Maribor, startup company NEXT, developing the online platform Beeping for fast, safe and effective hiring of verified household cleaners, received the Slovenian Startup of the Year 2018 award. Thousands of households in Europe are looking for occasional or regular help with cleaning and household chores. Even more, every household in Europe annually dedicates more than 15 full days of their free time to this task. There is no legal and clear market of household cleaning services. One of the most frequent solutions is the black market, which is illegal and non-transparent. The young Beeping team, which is housed in the Ljubljana University Incubator, detected an incredibly promising business opportunity in this, and committed themselves to data-driven business operations, which the expert jury of this year’s award describes as exemplary, textbook perfect, and an example for generations to come!
In less than three years – the company was founded in August 2015 – the team of Beeping, led by Jan Dobrilovič and David Mohar, succeeded in building a locally recognizable brand Beeping with minimal financial investments. Today, Beeping has more than 16,500 registered users, who are accessing up to 100 professional cleaners on two currently key markets. Up to 75% of all cleanings that users book through the Beeping platform are based on a subscription model, while as many as 80% of the users are achieving the retention rate. This way, the Beeping team is ensuring a sustainable business model, which is generating about a 20-percent growth of business every month.
Why Beeping and not the black market?
Compared to hiring cleaners on the black market, the online platform Beeping is bringing key advantages, namely insurance for cleaners in case of damages in the user’s home, safety because all cleaners, so-called beepers, are verified, legality because the cleaners have their own company (sole proprietorship or private limited company), simple and fast use of the platform, support to users seven days a week, online payments and guaranteed quality. After every cleaning, users rate the cleaners, and the average grade on a scale from 1 to 5 (five is the highest grade) is as high as 4.82! At the same time, beepers are part of the Beeping academy, through which they receive constant educational trainings and ensure high cleaning standards. Costs of services are fixed and set based on the size of the apartment. As such, cleaning an apartment of 55 square meters, for example, costs 33 EUR. On the other hand, the cleaners that the users hire under the counter calculate the number of hours spent, which can vary significantly depending on the experience and speed of the cleaner, and the average cost per working hour is in the amount of 8 EUR.
Significant competitive advantage
Competition exists on this market, because Europe already has platforms, so-called marketplaces, offering household cleanings. In the region of Central and Eastern Europe, the competitors are mostly smaller, local platforms, while in Western Europe, they are mostly bigger companies, built with high investments from venture capital funds, but they face a key challenge in ensuring sustainable marketing costs for obtaining new customers. The Beeping team solved this challenge in a timely and exact manner by recognizing the needs of customers after tested and reliable cleaners have done regular cleanings, and thus offered users as well as cleaners a long-term win-win situation based on data-driven business operations and careful workflow organization.
Esteemed corporate partners
Beeping’s executability and their ability of implementing the set goals are also confirmed by partnerships they’ve entered with esteemed international companies such as Generali Insurance and Henkel Group. They also recently created a partnership with NLB, the biggest provider of bank services in Slovenia. NLB will give away Beeping cleanings to their new clients under the slogan “More time for you”, while existing customers of the Beeping platforms will get practical gifts for spending free time.
The Slovenian Startup of the Year is annually given to the startup that convinces the expert jury with its excellent and dedicated team, innovative product, current investment achievements and potential for rapid growth, and successful global business operations. At the same time, the expert jury pays attention to make sure that the award goes into the hands of the team whose development achievements, actions and reputation represent a new generation of Slovenian innovative entrepreneurs.
Future development vision
The company has a clear development vision for the future as well. This year, they are planning around 400,000 EUR in revenue, and they will focus their attention and financial resources on becoming the first smart platform for helping households, using artificial intelligence and machine learning to ensure better matching between preferences of households and those of cleaners, and consequently a lot more personalized marketing and an even better user experience. The cities and markets that Beeping is planning on conquering after entering the Slovenian (Ljubljana) and Croatian (Zagreb) markets, are mostly the capitals of Central and Eastern Europe such as Budapest, Prague and Warsaw.
About the award
For the eleventh year in a row, the Slovenian Startup of the Year award has been given by Initiative Start:up Slovenia in collaboration with the Slovene Enterprise Fund and the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, and other partners from the Slovenian ecosystem. The five finalists this year – Event registry, Gotoky, MAG-LEV Audio, Next / Beeping and Smart Optometry – were chosen with a special pre-assessment procedure from a joint selection of thirteen startups, which were nominated for the award through our public call by the most active stakeholders of the Slovenian startup ecosystem.
Representatives of all five companies pitched to the expert jury on 7 May 2018 in Technology Park Ljubljana. The jury consisted of the most visible Slovenian startup entrepreneurs, mentors and investors. These included – Aljoša Domjan, Gregor Rebolj, Matjaž Slak, Darko Butina, Matej Zalar, Gregor Pipan, Tatjana Zabasu, Niko Slavnič and Tilen Travnik, who were joined in their assessments by the director of the Slovene Enterprise Fund, Maja Tomanič Vidovič.