When your day at the office is ending, it’s just beginning for another set of workers: the cleaning staff.
Cleaning staffs are often hired by buildings or companies through legacy agreements. There isn’t some sort of app to help speed up the scheduling, management, or payment process between the cleaners and the offices who book them.
Often, companies have to hire employees dedicated to office management to oversee the process; they also handle day-to-day issues such as changing lights, fixing Internet problems, and stocking fridges.
Q (named after the Star Trek character and James Bond’s Q Branch) is a software and management startup that wants to make it easier for companies to work with cleaning services and other service providers on a routine basis. Its mobile platform allows office managers to book cleanings, leave notes for the cleaning staff, assign tasks to be completed, and pay for the service all in one place. Q buys hours in bulk from cleaning services in the NYC area, then turns around and sells them to offices at a slightly higher price, for $US25 an hour.
When a cleaning is booked through Q, the workers clock in on a Q-provided iPad in the office. They can check off what they have done (vacuumed floors, cleaned desks, etc) so the office manager can see. Offices are required to book at least 4 hours worth of cleanings per week on the platform. Q also has a network of local service providers (electricians, exterminators, etc) that can be booked and payed for through its mobile app.
Founded by Daniel Teran and Saman Rahmanian, Q launched this past April with 15 customers. The technology is used by companies like Uber, Elite Daily, and Flatiron Health, and Q estimates it will be used by over 100 offices by the end of this summer.
“Right now, no [office manager] really knows what they’re paying for,” Teran says of hiring a cleaning service. “There’s a paper list of things people say they’re going to do…We’re creating an operating system for offices, providing the products, services and technology to make it easy to run an office.”
Already, Q’s looking at an annual run rate of more than $US1 million. It recently raised a $US775,000 seed round from notable angel investors including Behance co-founder Scott Belsky, College Humour founders Ricky Van Veen and Josh Abramson, Barkbox co-founder Henrik Werdelin, Max Burger and Jay Livingston. Path founder Dave Morin and early Facebooker Kevin Colleran also invested through their fund, Slow Ventures, as well as Panarea Captial’s Len Blavatink and Alex Zubillaga.
Teran was the first employee at another New York City-based startup, Artsicle. He and Rahmanian first met at Prehype, a design and incubation shop that builds innovative new ideas for businesses. The pair got the idea for Q when they noticed how terrible communication was between service providers and their apartment buildings.
“I moved into a condo and we had really terrible service in the building,” says Teran. “I started thinking about what building things in maintenance looks like. So we came up with the idea for an iOS dashboard.”
“We start talking about what the problems were and communication problems with maintenance workers,” Rahmanian agrees. “We started off with an iPad in the hallway of the condo, that was our initial product. Then we had interest from office managers. So we set up a bunch of meetings switched from a residential product to office buildings.”
MyClean is a similar mobile platform for booking residential cleanings in New York, but there didn’t seem to be similar widely-used product for local businesses. So Teran and Rahmanian met with 30 local cleaning services to gauge interest and onboarded some of them to Q.
Q currently has 14 employees including a former Apple employee who leads its tech operations. The team is split between New York and Buenos Aires.
Eventually, Q wants to expand beyond cleanings to run more like one of its customers — Uber — with on-demand services for anything offices need.
Scott Belsky, an early investor in Uber, sees that promise in Q. “I love businesses that replace the pipes and upgrade the user experience for some aspect of everyday living —
I call these ‘interface layer’ businesses,” Belsky told Business Insider via email. “Uber did this for transportation. Shyp [another investment] is doing it for shipping. And Q is doing it for office/space management.”
Belsky says that Q might look like just a cleaning service platform right now, but it has the potential to become a lot more than that.
“I was impressed by the potential for customers to rely on Q for other services such as ordering more office/cleaning supplies, handymen, etc.,” he says. “The interface of Q has the potential to revolutionise many industries that operate underneath.”
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