Dust off that cheque book. Teddle, the UK startup that lets you easily find and book a home cleaner, has closed a £255,000 (~$391k) funding round from a group of entrepreneurs-cum-angel investors, including Open Table founder David Pritchard. In addition, the Springboard alumni has managed to persuade Hailo founder and chairman Ron Zeghibe to join as non-executive chairman, although I'm told he hasn't invested, but (as we'd expect) is taking a small amount of equity. Founded by friends Jules Coleman, Alex Depledge and Tom Nimmo in March 2012 shortly before entering the Springboard accelerator program, Teddle represents a fairly typical "fail fast" startup story. It originally positioned itself as a platform for booking local services, and 8 weeks into Springboard, where it received £15k of funding, Teddle launched an MVP targeting West London. After graduation, the startup then set about fundraising while simultaneously trying to build out the product and grow its user base. But something didn't click. By November 2012, Teddle was almost out of money and the team knew it needed to pivot. And to pivot fast. "We were down to our last £100 and it was obvious that our product was too generic and broad," says co-founder Alex Depledge. "You could browse around and maybe book a service if you liked the look of someone but the conversion funnel just wasn’t there." It became clear to Depledge and her co-founders that they were left with two options. Become an enterprise business and "flog the scheduling, CRM software we had built," she says, or focus "exclusively" on the consumer. They chose the latter. "We knew we had to take one thing and do it really well so we looked at all our services and picked domestic cleaning because it was the most popular on our site and had very little competition other than Gumtree and agencies," says Depledge. "In 4 weeks we conducted focus groups and customer surveys and then built the product we felt gave the best possible customer discovery and booking experience. The new product went live on January 2nd and we haven’t looked back." Similar to a number of U.S. offerings, such as Homejoy, Handybook and Exec, the resulting site allows users to find, compare and book a cleaner, before paying online once they are happy with the work carried out. Cleaning is charged at a fixed price of £10 per-hour, and bookings can be made as a one-off or regular schedule. When searching, you're presented with 6 potential cleaners matched to your request. Profiles include user-submitted reviews and ratings, while the first cleaner to accept the booking, usually in a matter of minutes, wins the job. In addition, Teddle interviews and vets all cleaners on its platform, so there's a trust element, too. Unsurprisingly, the company is already generating revenue, such is the advantage of actually having a business model from the get-go. It charges a small commission on one-off bookings and a finder's fee for securing regular work for the freelance cleaners signed up. However, a model like Teddle's doesn't scale as gracefully as a pure online play -- there's quite a lot of up front labour involved to increase capacity -- so today's funding will come in handy. Its longer term plan is to expand into other services, such as personal trainers, tutors and gardeners, as well as take its offering beyond the London area. Meanwhile, the appointment of Zeghibe does seem like a potential coup, and it's easy to see synergies between the models operated by Hailo and Teddle. Both share a similar consumer proposition by making it easy to find and book a cab and cleaner respectively, coupled with a largely hidden B2B element in terms of recruiting, vetting and supporting the cab drivers and cleaners who provide the resulting services. Alongside Open Table's Pritchard, some of the other investors participating in today's round are Chris Ash (Ash Gaming), Jonathan Quinn (World First Foreign Exchange), Ray Kelly (Chairman/CEO Aegis Media), Sarah du Heaume (Just Media), Chris Mairs (Metaswitch), and Neil Davidson (Red Gate).
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