South Korean home cleaning startup Miso sweeps up $8 million Series A

South Korean home cleaning service Miso wants to leave its competition in the dust after raising an $8 million Series A. Led by AddVenture, with participation from returning investors Y Combinator, FundersClub and Strong Ventures, and new backer Social Capital, the funding will be used on marketing and entering new Asian countries.

The Y Combinator alum, which was the third startup from South Korea to participate in the accelerator program, has now raised over $10.5 million in total. When TechCrunch first profiled Miso in June 2016, it was processing about 5,000 bookings a month. Now co-founder and CEO Victor Ching says the platform processes about 50,000 to 60,000 cleanings a month.

The company claims that it has processed over 750,000 bookings since it was founded in 2015 and made more than $40 million in gross merchandise value over the last three years. It has served a total of 110,000 customers and currently has 15,000 cleaners on its platform, which is accessible through mobile apps and its website.

When they launched, Miso and competitors like WaHome and Daeri Jubu represented a shift in how home cleaners work in South Korea, where demand for their services is growing thanks to the increase in dual-income households. As Ching explains to TechCrunch, cleaners previously had to pay a monthly fee to join an agency and were often required to check in at its office to wait for bookings, even though work wasn’t guaranteed. Cleaning apps give customers and cleaners more convenience and flexibility, as well as a rating system for transparency.

Ching says that when he and co-founder Haksu Lee started Miso, they assumed most cleaners would want the equivalent of full-time work, or about 30 to 40 hours a week. In reality, however, only about 30% of its providers want to work that many hours, while the rest clean on a part-time basis or to supplement their income. Full time cleaners on the platform typically earn up to about $2,000 a month (in comparison, the monthly minimum wage for full-time work in South Korea is about $1,400).

To stand out from competitors, Miso has focused on developing scale over the last two years, says Ching, who was chief product officer at food delivery startup Yogiyo before it was acquired by Delivery Hero in 2014. Ching’s experience handling food delivery logistics helped him develop Miso’s backend so that when bookings began to increase, it was able to arrange shorter commutes for cleaners. This in turn allowed the company to offer quicker bookings of about 2 to 3 hours, expanding its customer base (it initially only offered four- or eight-hour sessions). Its services also now include air conditioner and washing machine cleanings, as well as same-day bookings in some markets.

Miso’s logistics system also helps match cleaners and customers. About half of its customer base are subscribers, which mean they typically book a cleaning once a week. Most prefer to have the same person come over every week, but that means Miso needs to pair them with a cleaner who is willing to go over regularly. Miso’s platform takes into account the preferences of both customers and providers and also tries to match jobs in the same building or apartment complex with one cleaner. Ching says this is an important advantage Miso has over competitors, because its focus on convenience keeps cleaners loyal to the platform.

Taxify is entering the e-scooter game

Estonian ride-hailing company Taxify will compete with Bird and Lime in Europe with its new brand of e-scooters, called Bolt, launching in Paris on Thursday.

The company has rolled the scooter sharing service into its mobile app, which has attracted 10 million users in 25 countries since it launched in August 2013.

A spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch it plans to release scooters in several other European and Australian cities where their app is already established, but will also launch in new markets where they’ve been unable to offer ride-hailing services because of regulatory roadblocks, including Germany and Spain.

As of now, Taxify has no plans to scoot into the US market.

“One in five Taxify rides are less than 3 km, which is the perfect distance to cover with an electric scooter,” Taxify CEO and co-founder Markus Villig said in a statement. “It’s likely that some of our ride-hailing customers will now opt for scooters for shorter distances, but we’ll also attract a whole new group of customers with different needs. This means we’ll be able to help more people with their daily transportation problems.”

A Bolt scooter ride will cost 15 cents a minute, with a minimum fare of €1. Just like other e-scooter startups, you unlock the GPS tracked scooters by scanning the QR-code on the scooter using the Taxify app. Taxify will collect the scooters in the evenings for recharging.

Lime e-scooters went live in Paris at the end of June. About a month later, Bird’s fleet did the same, rolling into Paris and Tel Aviv as part of its international launch. GoBee Bike, Obike, Ofo and Mobike — all dockless bike providers — have also launched in Paris. GoBee has since exited after failing to compete with heavyweights like Mobike, which is owned by the multi-billion dollar Chinese company Meituan.

Taxify, for its part, is a favorite among private investors. In May, the company brought in $175 million from Daimler, Didi Chuxing and others. The financing brought the company to the $1 billion valuation mark, where it joined fellow ride-hailing giants Lyft, Uber, Careem and more in the unicorn club.

Whether e-scooters will be as popular in Europe as they’ve been in the US remains to be seen. It’s likely they’ll run into the same regulatory headaches they faced in several US cities as they continue to crop up in new markets.

Taxify, as a European company battling a pair of US-based mobility startups, may have the upper hand.