Alumni Spotlight: Nessan Harpur and Better Cleans

Author: Nessan Harpur

Nessan Harpur ESTEEM '17Nessan Harpur ESTEEM '17

Before coming to ESTEEM, I knew very little about the mechanics of starting a business. I had given numerous pitches and even won some funding in the past, but the process and the steps required to actually have a company and a product that produced income were a mystery to me. Throughout ESTEEM I had learned a ton about tech startups all over the world. I found myself learning about all the mechanics of business, developing customers, doing financial analysis and putting pitches together. I think that by learning all of the more ambiguous parts of business, it put me in a position to get a business off the ground relatively quickly. It also gave me the confidence, the only thing that stood in my way was some administrative work. Although, even with some of the most important admin work around establishing a company structure, by taking a class in legal throughout esteem, I had enough education to know which kind of structure to file and the limitations and benefits of those structures.

Throughout the year I met a lot of entrepreneurs starting amazing companies. Some of them had great software like Hover in San Francisco, some had great physical products like Maxxstart and some were services companies where they traded their skills for revenue. I was eager to get a business off the ground but started noticing the barriers to entry: where was I going to develop great software? how will I design and mass manufacture a great product? These questions were tough at first but by breaking them down, I was able to determine the criteria I wanted for a business: low cost to build, can become profitable quickly, can be managed while working on another startup. I was lucky to work on the SEO team while in ESTEEM and managed to learn a lot about managing websites, driving traffic and digital marketing. Using both my experiences inside and outside the class room in ESTEEM is what gave me the confidence and the skills to successfully start this business.

Why did we create BetterCleans? I wanted to start a company upon leaving ESTEEM, and this year I now have that opportunity. Previously, I started a company in Ireland that was marketing US technology to executives of large corporations in Europe. If just one of those deals had gone our way, it would’ve made us instantly profitable. Unfortunately, chasing huge contracts is time consuming and quite difficult. It didn’t work out, but I learned a ton. I really wanted to get that entrepreneurial rush again but with a higher probability of success, so I started working on

David Hardwicke, ESTEEM '17David Hardwicke ESTEEM '17

Kevin O'Keeffe ESTEEM '15Kevin O'Keeffe ESTEEM '15

Together with another ESTEEM classmate and co-founder, David Hardwicke, we knew a few ESTEEM alumni who had started businesses before including Kevin O'Keeffe. Kevin was huge help initially because of his experience in starting a similar business in Indianapolis. Kevin has acted as mentor and co-founder during launch phase. At first the work was mixed between myself and Dave with help from Kevin. As we moved through the launch phase we began assigning roles between digital marketing, recruitment, customer fulfillment and building our online brand. It wasn’t the most ambitious startup idea of all time, but we were determined to make it a profitable success.

What is is a fully digital booking service for cleaning services -- currently located only in Milwaukee. The value proposition to customers is that it’s a premium service, provides a seamless booking process and only employs local and experienced cleaners in the local area.

What makes us stand out? BetterCleans is a local service that offers a seamless solution for house cleaning. We connect people who need their homes cleaned with vetted cleaners in their area. Customers like that they can book through the website, choose a time, and have a cleaner show up and do their job.

Where is the company at now? We started working on this in 2018. First we looked at the quality of services offered in other cities in the US in terms of customer reviews, quality of their digital presence and specifically where we could have a competitive advantage. Once we decided on the specific market, we had the company up and running in a matter of months. In our first week we got 2 customers. Currently we have a number of monthly recurring customers.

We are looking to bootstrap the business with as little investment as possible. As of now we are covering our costs and generating a little profit. Our aim is to increase that profit over time, continue to expand the business and reach our revenue goal for 2019!