Helpling.com , a web-based service that allows users to order home cleaning, is ceasing operations in Canada after less than a year in the market.
Berlin-based Helpling expanded to Canada in December after first expanding its operations across Europe. Akin to Uber for maid service, the web platform allowed Canadians to book a home cleaning for $25 per hour. Users paid the company directly with a credit card and then had the option to rate their cleaners, and re-book them if desired.
According to Philipp Hinz, the global head of communications for Helpling.com, Canada is one of four markets that Helping is exiting today. The others are Brazil, Spain, and Sweden.
“It’s not one single cause,” Hinz says in a phone interview. “It’s embedded in a review of our overall strategy.”
After completing a review of its operations around the world, Helping concluded that focusing on its core European operations is the fastest path to profitability, he says. While Helpling was winning new customers in Canada, it just wasn’t enough.
“Some countries adopt new business models quicker than others,” Hinz says. “It was growing, just not as quick as others.”
As recently as March, Helping announced raising $57 million in Series B funding that it said was “to help fuel its rapid growth in countries including Canada.” The financing was led by Lakestar, Kite Ventures, Lukasz Gadowski, and Rocket Internet.
“We have no liquidity problem. This decision is independent from the funding situation,” Hinz says. Expanding to global markets in its first 18 months of operations allowed Helping to demonstrate it was expanding, and raise funding from investors.
“We are in a completely different situation today than 18 months ago. There were many more competitors at that time,” he says. “Now we’re in a market leadership position and we can focus on a quick path to profitiability.”
There were also higher operating costs to stay in business in Canada and other overseas markets, Hinz says. Core Europeans cities are centralized around the same service centre, while Canada, Spain, Brazil, and Sweden each had their own separate local office with customer support teams.
In June, Helpling acquired a competing website, Hassle.com. At that time, the company said that the acquisition would help it “expand its leadership position in Europe.” It planned to operate in 14 markets in tandem with Hassle, including major European cities London, Berlin, and Paris.
This isn’t the first set back for a web-based platform geared towards home cleaning services in Canada. Last December, Homejoy said it was pausing its operations in Canada temporarily in order to focus on other markets. The company was available in cities such as Toronto and Vancouver since July 2013. But in July it became clear that Homejoy wouldn’t be returning to the Canadian market as the company announced it was shutting down.
Homejoy CEO Adora Cheung told Re/code that the main reason for the closure was four pending lawsuits against Homejoy from its independent contractors claiming they were employees.
Uber is facing similar issues with its workforce. In June a California Labor Commissioner ruling stated that an Uber driver was considered an employee. A suit brought against the company by drivers claiming they are employees has also recently been given class-action status in California.
For users of Helpling, Hinz says efforts will be made to put customers directly in touch with their cleaners to continue the relationship.
Canadians trying to book an appointment on the site today will find a message apologizing for technical difficulties and that no customer service support is available.