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Goldman Sachs CEO invests in Australian cleaning app WHIZZ as it secures a $2 million Series B round

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L-R: Adam Abrams, Julian Tobias, Mark Bernberg

A group of five high net worth Australian investors, which includes the CEOs of Goldman Sachs and Godfreys, have invested $2 million in WHIZZ cleaning app’s Series B financing round.

The sophisticated investors are Simon Rothery CEO of Goldman Sachs, Tom Krulis CEO of Godfreys, Alex Waislitz, Chairman and Founder of Thorney Investment Group, Tony Gandel (Melbourne’s renowned Gandel family) and Allen Linz (property developer).

This Series B round comes just six months after the app was launched, and only one month since it joined the App Store.

This funding will be used for national expansion, which will occur within the next six months, with a Melbourne rollout slated for November 2015 and Brisbane in March 2016.

Why has WHIZZ attracted such investors?

WHIZZ is the brainchild of CEO Mark Bernberg (Fiveplus and SkyFii), CMO Adam Abrams and Julian Tobias (both behind The Island, C Coconut Water).

The five investors were impressed by the company’s first six months in business, with figures of 50 per cent month on month growth and 70 per cent of first time users converting to become regular cleans.

“WHIZZ has been successful in such a short time because we established it from the very start as more than just a technology company; WHIZZ is a service company first and foremost,” said Mark.

“When we say WHIZZ cleaners are the very best, we mean it. Only 15 per cent of the 2000 cleaners we have interviewed have met our stringent criteria. As a result, our customers have rewarded us with their return business and very high social media reviews.

“Our five star hotel cleaning service as standard really sets us apart from our competitors.

“WHIZZ is also the first to market with ‘on-demand’ cleaning – meaning a cleaner can be dispatched to your home within three hours, say for those unexpected after-party clean-ups; our competitors are still unable to offer this service.”

How does WHIZZ work?

This game-changing app lets you book an expertly trained and experienced cleaning professional ‘on-demand’, or for a later date in just four taps.

WHIZZ promises 5 star hotel cleaning as standard for every home – chocolates on your pillow, bed linen scented with their signature fragrance, toilet roll folded and stickered just like a five star hotel, and a checklist of every item that has been cleaned in your house.

It also offers a selection of additional cleaning options on top of a standard clean (washing, ironing, pantry, fridge and oven cleaning).

WHIZZThe WHIZZ app is available for free from the App Store and Sydneysiders can also book a clean via WHIZZ.com.au. Some of its other key features include:

  • Flat fee pricing model – no hidden surprises as you know exactly how much the clean will cost before you order. 2 bedroom and 1 bathroom is $95, 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom is $85 and first time users will receive a $20 discount off this rate.
  • The ability to book a single or reoccurring clean and add it to your iPhone Calendar with reminders
  • WHIZZ HQ tracks where cleaners are throughout the day and can warn customers ahead of time should there be any delays 
  • Available for Apple Watch, the app will provide alerts when your WHIZZard is on the way, when they have arrived and when they are finished

What is the story behind WHIZZ?

Anthill caught up with CEO Mark Bernberg and he shared with us some more background about his very successful start-up.

What inspired you to start WHIZZ?

My cleaner had to go back to the Philippines for a death in the family.  She was going to be gone for at least six weeks.  This left me without my weekly cleaner. So I went about trying to find one.

The first channel I tried was Facebook, asking if any of my friends knew of a good cleaner. A couple responded but the cleaners were too busy and that channel lucked out.

Then I tried Googling “residential cleaners Sydney”. That was just a straight out lottery. Not only was the fluctuation in prices crazy (from $60 to $180 for a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home) but it also took a long while to get an actual quote.

Most of the time I got a call centre who then handed my details over to a cleaner. A day later they would call and then would not quote until they had seen the place. Another day passed and after coming through my home, then took (on average) another day to get me a quote.

Seriously – four days to get a quote for a cleaner to come to my home? There had to be a better way.

The lightbulb moment happening while riding in an Uber cab. It suddenly struck me… surely there would be a need for people looking for cleaners to be instantly matched with qualified, quality home cleaners that could deliver on a fixed price within 24 hours. And so… WHIZZ was born!

How did you end up working with your co-founders?

I approached Adam and Julian as what they had done with their floating badge (The Island Sydney) was exceptional. They flipped the “bar product” and its associated levels of service on its head.

They truly understood how to be completely customer centric and with their social status and A-list connections, I approached them to come on board and work with me on the project.

I had the skills and knowledge of how to put a dev team and business plan in place (I had done so previously with Skyfii – which listed on the ASX in November of 2014) and together we started the process of taking an idea and executing on it.

We founded the business in September 2014, recruited cleaners and did extensive market research (while development of the product happened concurrently) and launched live to the public with a web platform in February of 2015. In July we launched the iOS app and the growth in demand soared!

How had you funded WHIZZ before this?

Initial seed funding happened internally and our Series A round was completed in February 2015. We only raised $500,000 in that round and it was from two key undisclosed investors.

This was enough runway for at least 12 months (we run a very lean start-up model). However, currently the movement in the “on-demand home services” market is the hottest area in technology.

We were being approached multiple times by multiple investors asking if we were looking to raise more capital. We took the decision to strike while the iron was hot and given the calibre of investor wanting to be on board it made commercial sense to do so.

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