MoppedUp: Malcolm Lewis
The tech entrepreneur on why market research is an important foundation for any business idea and why there is still room for another cleaning start-up
Company name: Malcolm Lewis
Date launched: 21/04/15
Tell us what your business does:
We’re an app that connects homeowners and cleaners so that homeowners can create cleaning to-do list for the cleaners.
The app is designed to enable homeowners to list the cleaning they want done, both while at home and away; and allow the cleaners to communicate with the homeowner, on things like suggesting cleaning tasks, products that need replenishing and booking holidays.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
The idea came from my personal frustration of always searching for scraps of paper to leave notes to my cleaner. I noticed nothing existed that allowed me to centralise all my home-related cleaning and cleaning communication in one place.
How did you know there was a market for it?
I knew right away that market was wide enough to introduce a change however I also did some market research, which I believe is important for every business to do before launching. Initially I sent out market surveys and this backed up my initial interpretation of the market – a gap existed and users were keen for solution.
I also spoke with some figures in the cleaning industry that said the market had long been in need of modernization and that technology was under utilised in the industry. Furthermore the recent growth in cleaning start-ups has shown me there is still room for more; people can now book a different cleaner every week via an app and we offer a portable list and communication tool for these people.
What were you doing before starting up?
I’ve worked on various, innovative tech projects for the last twenty years.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
No, I’m a late starter to the world of entrepreneurship. I’ve come up with ideas in the past but let them pass without doing anything.
How did you raise the money?
So far the business has been self-funded. I may consider external funding to drive overseas expansion at a later date but right now I’m happy to continue to grow organically.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
The app costs homeowners a one off charge of £2.99 and free to cleaners. I want a clean and transparent arrangement with my users.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
I think my work in technology has helped me through some of the technical elements of the project. The challenges I’ve had to work hardest on are ones I’ve not had to do in the past – so reaching out to people to talk about my product is alien and has me quivering in my boots.
What was your first big breakthrough?
When I sat down, drew out the product plan and decided it would work.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Don’t give up. I’ve had more knocks and setbacks than I ever imagined was possible but getting through the challenges will help you to prove your worth and standing with a finished product will give you the biggest thrill.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
I want to see my product evolve and spread to other countries. I would also like to launch more services.