Handybook Expands into Westchester

Successful startup Handybook looks to continue its national success in the County.

Ever since Uber—the app that instantly connects you with a car service—became a multimillion-dollar business, countless startups have labeled themselves the “Uber of…” Few, though, have really succeeded in following through on that label. But Handybook—the “Uber of home services”—looks poised to take its place right next to Uber, and it is expanding right in our backyard. 

Handybook is an Internet and smartphone platform that allows users to instantly book home services, including cleaning, handymen, plumbers, and electricians. No sign-up is required—simply head to the site, put in your address, book a service, and make the payment. 

The company, founded in the summer of 2012 by Oisin Hanrahan and Umang Dua, was born out of frustration. Hanrahan, a Dublin native, ran a real-estate management company for three years. Whenever he needed to find a cleaning crew, a plumber, an electrician—or any service, really—he found the bulky task of sorting through reviews, choosing a reliable provider, setting up a time and date, etc., daunting and frustrating. When he moved to Boston to start classes for his MBA at Harvard, he again ran into problems finding reliable service providers—a problem not foreign to Harvard classmate Dua. “Then [Dua] and I started working on this idea of, ‘Let’s make it really easy to book these services,’” says Hanrahan. 

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And that ease is what separates Handybook from websites like Angie’s List and similar sites that offer help finding home services. Instead of parsing reviews, trying to select which is best, then trying to schedule a time that works best, Handybook does all the work for you. It starts with a strict vetting process for potential vendors—a series of online assessments, in-person interviews, and background checks (this, in turn, has lead to only 3 percent of providers who’ve applied being accepted onto the platform). The company also handles scheduling (it uses smart technology to ensure availability) and payment processing. And, should you rate a cleaner or plumber less than an 8 (with 10 being the highest), they’ll follow up with that vendor. 

That ease has translated into enormous success. After an initial round of investing last summer that raised $2 million, Hanrahan and a team of developers worked through the logistics for a few months, launching the site in September 2012. The company experienced a three-month period in 2013 during which its user base doubled each month, and is still seeing large absolute growth each month (“Apparently, you can’t double forever,” Hanrahan quips). To help expand to other cities and hire more staff members, the company raised another $10 million in investments this past fall. 

Handybook now has more than 100,000 service providers on the platform completing thousands of jobs per week across 13 cities—including New York, Los Angeles, and Boston. “It’s really exploded in terms of growth,” says Hanrahan. “And it’s all about that idea of making it easy for our users to get things done.” 

Now Handybook looks to further that success as it expands into the County. While Westchester may not seem to fit among the heavy-hitting cities like Philadelphia, Seattle, and Miami, Hanrahan sees it as an exciting market. “We think there is a huge need for these services in Westchester,” says Hanrahan. “Westchester has particularly good demographics and good income ratios, so it makes sense for us to expand to Westchester.”  This quarter, the company will start in lower Westchester—areas including New Rochelle, Larchmont, Pelham, Rye, Dobbs Ferry, and Harrison. And after six months, it’ll look to expand further into the County. 

But Hanrahan has his sights set beyond Westchester. “We think that over the next two to three years, there will be a multibillion-dollar business created in home services,” he says, “and our goal is to be that business.”

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