Saturday 17 August 2019

Hanrahan brings heavyweights to $500m Handy as main rival closes

Rathcoole entrepreneur raises $50m from Fidelity and TPG as "sharing economy" grows, says Sarah McCabe

Handy founder Oisin Hanrahan
Handy founder Oisin Hanrahan

Rathcoole native Oisin Hanrahan (31) has assembled a crack team of technology heavyweights to expand his app business Handy.

Handy is a "sharing economy" app used mainly in the US that connects users with cleaners, handymen and other domestic workers. Hanrahan dropped out of a postgraduate degree at Harvard to co-found it three years ago, having previously completed a BA at Trinity College. "We started it with the view that the way people were buying services was broken," he told the Sunday Independent.

The company's new hires include chief financial officer Jeff Pederson (a former finance director for Amazon); chief technology officer Ken Little (former head of engineering at Tumblr); general counsel Brian Miller (a seasoned US technology lawyer); and vice president of data science Ben Kelly (former director of data science at online beauty business Birchbox).

Handy has just raised $50m - bringing the total value raised by the business to $110m and valuing it around the half-billion mark.

The biggest investor in the $50m round was Fidelity Management. Others included TPG Growth (an early investor in Uber), and General Catalyst (a backer of AirBnB).

There are several companies competing in the same field in the US, but Handy is the biggest. Its latest fundraising deal was signed not long after the closure of one of Handy's main competitors in the US, Homejoy, which commentators said had been plagued by lawsuits over how it classified workers and was unable to raise enough money. Handy has also been hit with at least one lawsuit in the US.

The funding will be used to invest in the cities Handy already has a foothold in - 25 US cities, two Canadian cities and London. Expansion into new locations is at least six months away, Hanrahan said.

"We have seen a lot of companies expand into new locations too fast only to have to retrench... We want to ensure that is not the case for Handy," he said.

"New York is our most important market and there is still lots of room for growth there; Handy has the potential to grow into a $1bn marketplace in New York alone."

The company employs 140 people and processes over 100,000 transactions a month but is "still tiny relative to the market". More than 10,000 people use the platform.

It does not have any IPO plans for the near-term, he said. "It is still a really young company".

In Ireland the biggest brand in the 'Uber for cleaners' space is Hassle, a company co-founded and recently sold for a rumoured $32m by Kildare woman Jules Coleman. One of the biggest challenges plaguing these types of companies is that cleaners stop using the app to process transactions once they have established a relationship with a client.

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