Senegalese startup noflaay is bringing on-demand home cleaning and babysitting services to the capital of Dakar, and plans to expand into other spaces after positive initial uptake.
Launched in 2015, noflaay offers end-to-end services ranging from staff sourcing to delivery monitoring. Users are able to request a quotation online, after which noflaay will arrange for a domestic worker to visit the person’s house.
Payment for services can then be made through noflaay at the end of each month, via cheque, cash, bank transfer or Orange Money. The startup has had 30 unique clients since its launch, but has suffered from a high churn rate due to expatriates leaving the country.
“We created noflaay because we noticed people often had issues with their maids, which causes them to go a long time with no domestic helper,” co-founder Jean-Pierre Mendy told Disrupt Africa.
One of the problems is that independent workers are usually directly hired by employers, with no contracts and without a background check. Independent workers also rarely stay for long with an employer.
“There can be various reasons for this: the employer is not satisfied with the skills, attitude or honesty of their employee, or the worker is not satisfied with their working conditions,” Mendy said.
“We believe that improving employees’ working conditions and providing a comprehensive service is a differentiator. On the one hand, it helps attract and retain skilled workers. On the other hand, it is reassuring for clients to have a third party they can talk to when there is any issue with the maid.”
noflaay is happy enough with its initial uptake that it is planning expansion, but not geographically.
“Our ambition is to grow in our current markets and expand our offerings with other services involving domestic help, such as laundry collection and drop-off, and home repairs,” Mendy said.
“We expect to launch the laundry business by June 2017.”
The startup is focused on serving the high-end market, because its structure cannot compete price-wise with independent workers who have no tax to pay nor operating costs. Yet Mendy is confident noflaay’s background checks and comprehensive insurance means it stands out.
No funding has been raised up to this point, with Mendy saying the sector is not very capital intensive.
“Our investments are mainly in marketing and IT,” he said.
“For now, we are not looking to opening up to any investor. We want first to be firmly established and demonstrate the potential of the business.”
Potential is certainly evident. noflaay’s pilot phase was launched with little marketing and low prices.
“The purpose was to gain market knowledge first and identify what to focus on. Then, with a better knowledge of our cost structure, we updated the pricing model to include bundles and billing rates. We also worked on the value proposition to highlight what is most valuable to the clients,” Mendy said.
“We are not profitable yet and we need to gain more clients to become profitable, hence the marketing efforts we will be making next year.”