When venture-backed Silicon Valley startup Homejoy announced last week that it would be discontinuing all operations effective July 31, 2015 – in spite of nearly $40 million of total capital raised – the tech press went crazy.
“It might be time for the (on-demand) market to consolidate,” said Buzzfeed’s Caroline O’Donovan. “GIG-BASED BUSINESSES WATCH IN FEAR” screamed the headline in Wall Street Hedge. And early VC funder Samir Shah felt compelled to add, “There’s a lot of blood in the water.”
Meanwhile, 3,000 miles away just outside of Washington DC, one tech savvy service innovator, Shawn Kaplan, COO of GreenMaidworks.com, was not the least bit surprised.
“I knew this might happen when I first read about Homejoy’s business model two years ago,” stated Mr. Kaplan. “Green Maidworks, is the East Coast’s first ‘on-demand’ eco-friendly residential maid service. Having serviced more than 1 million homes we know what works and what doesn’t work in this growing industry.”
Founded in 1985 by Paul and Sherry Kaplan, Shawn’s parents, the family cleaning business was created to generate much-needed income during an economic downturn, similar to our most recent economic challenges.
Early on, the Kaplans gained clients by doing the marketing and facilitating the cleaning themselves. The quality of workmanship, security of their clients’ homes and provision of income opportunity to their employees have always been pillars of Green Maidworks. Quickly expanding their territories and customer base, service providers were filtered thorough background checks and hired as W-2 employees following fair wage labor laws.
“I just don’t believe a corporate branded and formally trained home cleaner can be construed as a 1099 independent contractor unless they are running their own business,” continues Shawn Kaplan. “If the homeowner schedules a cleaning or tasks with Green Maidworks or any other corporate maid service, whether through mobile technology or over the phone, the people actually doing the work normally match the IRS definition of an employee. No matter how much venture capital Homejoy raised, the lawsuits filed against them in this area prove they were not immune from that definition.”
With this in mind, Shawn has created an innovative third path for the rapid nationwide expansion of his brand with a multi-tier franchise model. “We want to extend the chance for the green entrepreneur who has self-determination and work ethic to grow a business,” Shawn calls this his “micro-franchise offer.”
“We are looking to partner with dynamic and devoted hardworking people in this new emerging market,” Shawn explains.
In the next coming weeks, Green Maidworks will be unveiling their innovative micro-franchise model to the investment and business communities.
In the meantime, Shawn encourages everyone to step back, take a deep breath and see the continued potential in this evolving ‘on-demand’ gig service industry.
“With our incredible marketing platform, proprietary web and mobile scheduling technology for owners, employees and customers, our micro-franchising model can rapidly scale-up the production side, and rejuvenate this dynamic on-demand business model.”
Green Maidworks, Inc.
5524 Hempstead Way, Suite 202
Springfield, VA 22151