ENTREPRENEUR
PROFILE

Oisin Hanrahan

Handy

Business Purpose:

Handy is the leading on-demand home services platform.

 

Personal Bio:

A native of Dublin, Oisin Hanrahan was 18 when he got his first start as an entrepreneur at Trinity College in Dublin. While at university, Oisin set up Clearwater Group, a real estate development company in Budapest, Hungary that successfully completed a number of multi-million Euro developments and managed the real estate assets and rental needs of buyers. It was in Budapest that Oisin first saw the pain point Handy solves – he struggled to find a handyman he could trust to do work on his properties. After Budapest, Oisin returned to Dublin and setup The Undergraduate Awards, which has become the world’s largest pan-discipline awards programme. Supported by Google, Microsoft and others, it has become a global annual awards event hosted in Dublin with the award distributed each year by the President of Ireland. Oisin also established MiCandidate, which became the leading source for online election information across Europe in 2009. A few years later, while at Harvard Business School, Oisin returned to the problem Handy is solving today – how to help the world buy on-demand services.

 

Company Profile:

Founded in May 2012 by Oisin Hanrahan and Umang Dua, Handy completely revolutionises how consumers book home services, spanning everything from home cleaning to furniture assembly. With Handy, consumers can book a trusted professional at the tap of an app. In less than two years, Handy has grown from 3 markets to over 25 cities across North America. In the past six months alone, Handy has raised $10 million in funding from top VC firms including Highland Capital and General Catalyst, opened five on the ground offices in key markets, built a core team of nearly 100 people, recruited thousands of service professionals and purchased Exec, the California-based cleaning company founded by Justin Kan.

 

What vision/lightbulb moment prompted you to start-up in business?

Founded in May 2012 by Oisin Hanrahan and Umang Dua, Handy completely revolutionises how consumers book home services, spanning everything from home cleaning to furniture assembly. With Handy, consumers can book a trusted professional at the tap of an app. In less than two years, Handy has grown from 3 markets to over 25 cities across North America. In the past six months alone, Handy has raised $10 million in funding from top VC firms including Highland Capital and General Catalyst, opened five on the ground offices in key markets, built a core team of nearly 100 people, recruited thousands of service professionals and purchased Exec, the California-based cleaning company founded by Justin Kan.

 

– ENTREPRENEURIAL INSIGHTS –

What vision/lightbulb moment prompted you to start-up in business?

I met Umang, my co-founder, when I moved to Boston. We started Handy because we experienced the pain points that people face with home services every day. When we were living in Boston, we were struggling to find people to clean our typical college-style messy apartment. We were, and still are, both consumers trying to change an industry and knew what the flaws in the market were, so we built the product with your average customer in mind – folks just like ourselves.

 

How did you secure your first investment?

Handy spun out of Harvard’s Innovation Lab in May 2012 and we secured our first round of funding from Highland Capital Partners and General Catalyst for $2 million in the Fall of 2012.

 

What was your “back-to-the-wall” moment and how did you overcome it?

One of the most memorable moments at Handy was during our first year. We had a system failure and accepted 50% more bookings than we had staff for. We rallied the whole team – the engineers, designers, Umang and myself, anyone who could help – and went out and completed the jobs ourselves to make sure we didn’t let our customers down!

 

What moment/deal would you cite as the “game changer” or turning point for the company?

When we first started building Handy, we thought we were creating a tech platform that would streamline the booking process, but within a few months we realised that it was much, much more than that – it became about building a brand that people could trust for their home. That involves much more than tech – operations, customer service, etc.- essentially, real people and a real business that people trust.

 

Were there any interesting or unusual circumstances surrounding the inception of the company or its evolution?

When I founded Clearwater Group, a real estate development company based in Budapest, I first experienced the problem of finding trusted cleaning and repair professionals.  It was only later, after I moved to the United States for university, that I realised this was a global problem –  my roommate and I struggled to find a cleaner we could trust and spent an inordinate amount of time scouring the internet, reading online reviews and negotiating over pricing. We created Handy as a solution to that frustration.

 

What are the biggest challenges you face now?

Each day brings a new challenge and, as we enter into new markets nationwide, we are met with new obstacles that motivate us and provide new opportunities for innovation.

 

What is your biggest business achievement to date?

The past six months have been incredible for Handy! Starting in October, we announced our second round of funding totalling over $10 million from Highland Capital Partners and General Catalyst Partners and, in January, we announced the acquisition of California-based cleaning company Exec to grow our presence on the West Coast. Most recently, we opened four additional offices, entered 12 new markets across the U.S. and doubled our staff to over 100 employees. We’ve been experiencing 60% month over month growth this year alone which has been incredible.

 

What were the best & the worst pieces of advice you received when starting out?

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received was “focus on the people.” I’ve really taken this to heart and believe that Handy is truly the sum of its parts, the parts being our tremendous team.

 

What top tips would you give entrepreneurs starting out today?

The importance of customer service cannot be overstated. No matter how enticing your product is, if you don’t have a great customer experience team, people won’t come back and that’s what we’re most proud of, our staggering number of repeat users.  We’ve seen a real need for Handy as evidenced by our growth, even beyond our wildest dreams.

 

Were there any early signs that you would eventually follow an entrepreneurial path?

I caught the entrepreneur bug early on and when I was 18 started my first company, Clearwater Group, a real estate development company in Budapest, Hungary. Later, I went on to co-found The Undergraduate Awards, the world’s largest pan-discipline awards program and MiCandidate, the leading source for online election information in Europe in 2009.

 

Has anyone acted as a mentor to you?

Definitely! Handy certainly wouldn’t be where it is today without the guidance, motivation and inspiration of many different mentors. There are certainly mentors at different stages in a company’s evolution. At the beginning, for instance, there are folks who help you find product / market fit. Now, at this stage in the company, there are mentors who help us scale the business. As we continue to grow, I’ve been lucky enough to meet individuals along the way who’ve helped us innovate and scale.

 

Has your “Irish-ness” contributed to your success?

Absolutely! Running a business is all about building and fostering relationships – something that is core to being Irish.

 

How do you generate new ideas to stay ahead of the curve?

At Handy, we’re constantly innovating, listening to our customers and pushing ourselves to deliver an unparalleled customer experience. We set high goals for ourselves and don’t stop until we achieve them.

 

When making a new hire, what key characteristics do you look for?

We have a motto at Handy: “Recruit smarter than you.” We believe in hiring the best and the brightest and we admit what we don’t know. That’s how we’re able to build such a strong team!

 

What do you believe it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?

Hard work, curiosity and the drive to always innovate.

 

If you were to invest in a sector, what would you consider the next “big thing”?

We believe home services has the potential for extreme growth, which is why we created Handy in the first place- to bring innovation to a static industry.

 

What do you believe is your company’s competitive advantage?

Handy completely revolutionises how consumers book home services. We bring technology to an industry that hasn’t seen innovation in years, connecting consumers with the best professionals at the tap of an app. The entire process takes less than a minute. We’re utilising technology to deliver an on-demand solution that we know our consumers love.

However, the technology of the Handy platform is only one part of our success. The Handy brand is built on great customer service that provides customers with the best possible experience from beginning to end.

Our vision isn’t just to build a home cleaning and repair service company, but a brand that takes care of your entire home.

 

What sacrifices have you had to make to get your business where it is today?

Handy’s ultimate goal is to turn your mobile phone into a remote control managing your home. In the beginning, we had the option to launch with many different home services but we made the deliberate decision to focus on a small subset of services, instead of a wide range. Focusing on home cleaning and repairs allows us to grow the brand organically while maintaining a strong emphasis on the customer experience.

 

How do you recharge your batteries?

I love to travel, cook and read about all things technology, business and economics. When traveling I like to do something active – particularly snowboarding or sailing. I’d really like to try kitesurfing next!

 

Year: 2014
Category: Emerging
Sector: Technology

Websitewww.handy.com

Emailteam@handy.com

Phone: US / Canada: 1-888-847-6036  UK: 020 3095 4919

Address134 West 29th Street, New York 10001

Twitter@handy

Facebookwww.facebook.com/Handybook/info