Today’s day in the life interview comes with Benedikt Franke, Founder of the leading online marketplace for home services: Helpling, which currently offers its services in 9 countries: Australia, Germany, Italy, France, Ireland (hassle.com/ie), UK (hassle.com), UAE, the Netherlands and Singapore.
1. First can you tell us a bit about your job? What does your company do?
Helpling is Europe’s leading online marketplace for home services. On the website or via the app, customers can book a vetted and insured service provider and gain back free time within a few clicks. For service providers, Helpling makes it easier than ever to find new customers and to manage when and where they want to work. Philip Huffmann and I have known each other since we were eight years old and grew up together in Cologne. We began working together in 2010 and founded the Latin American Media Group. In the beginning of 2014, we decided to found Helpling. At Helpling, I am responsible for the departments marketing and Business Intelligence, finance, and human resources.
2. What brought you to this area?
Originally, the idea for Helpling arose from the personal struggle to find a trustworthy cleaner that wanted to work legally. The market in which we operate is non-transparent and in some of the markets, 85 percent of it is black market. Especially home services are not accessible online. With our technology, we want to structure an unregulated market by bringing both sides – households and service providers – together in a fast and effective way. Thus, the Helpling platform offers a very attractive alternative for finding a vetted and insured cleaner with only a few clicks.
3. What time does your day start, and what does your typical work day schedule look like?
I have a 20 month old son and my morning routine is currently built around him. We have breakfast together and he even “helps” me preparing my espresso that I need to start the day. I try to use as much of the day for actual conversations with our team, in our Berlin Headquarter and across our markets. While we do have a lot of structure and routine after 3.5 years in the company, everyday comes with its own surprises and topics that require immediate action. This is what I really enjoy.
4. What kind of projects are you currently working on?
We continue to grow our existing markets and follow our path to profitability. Our plan is to roll out additional household services – such as professional window cleaning or furniture assembly – internationally. A major area of investment is technological product development as Helpling plans to increase the automation of the platform, enabling both customers and service providers to manage their relationships with even more ease and convenience.
5. What do you consider the greatest achievement in your work to date?
When I look at Helpling and all the great people that are part of it, it just amazes me how we have grown together and what a powerful unit we have become. What makes us really proud is that tens of thousands of people use Helpling to make money and that this has an enormous impact on real people.
6. What is the one app you could not live without?
After being a customer myself since day one, I don’t want to miss the helpling app.
7. What’s the best thing about working at your company?
With Helpling, we are transforming an entire industry. Until now, home services have been barely accessible online. Our vision is to change this with a technology for both sides – customers and service providers. Whoever wants to be part of digitising an entire industry is at the right place here!
8. Where is the after work hangout?
Without a doubt: in our beloved kicker room! We have a kicker table, table tennis and beers. And the people to enjoy all of that with.
9. Who is your professional role model?
There is no one single role model. I try to look at various people for different perspectives.
10. What makes London a good city for technology and startups?
London has attracted many great people from all over the world, talent is the main asset in any modern business. London is also a huge and very dense market. Besides the often mentioned purchasing power of the city, this is especially helpful to business that target local markets. You can grow a lot before you have to expand to the next city. I think deliveroo is a good example for that.
11. Which tech trends are you most excited about?
From an impact potential, I am very excited about what we will see in health tech and AI/Machine learning. Health tech because it just has such an immediate impact on our lives, AI/Machine learning because it is kind of a meta trend that will simply impact everything and everyone.
12. What are the top 3 qualities you look for in an employee?
We look for self-motivated people who want to have impact. As our business is very complex, our team needs to be highly structured and organised to drive the business in the right direction. In order to make things happen, we have a very hands on mentality and a very straightforward way of communication where the best idea shall win. You should like that.
13. And finally, what is the one piece of advice you would give to an entrepreneur starting out?
First, it helps to ask if you want to work in a startup or be an entrepreneur. Similar but not the same. Once you have an answer on this, you should get enthusiastic about a topic or business model and understand the market as well as the unit economics. Usually, it is then helpful to test your own hypotheses fast and without too much effort.