Helpling, the Rocket Internet-founded company that lets you book a range of home services online, has raised further funding. This time around, the undisclosed backing -- which I understand to be "several million" Euros -- comes from Unilever Ventures, the venture arm of Unilever, in what can undoubtedly be described as a strategic investment.
In a call, Helpling co-founder Benedikt Franke told me that taking funding from Unilever opens up further opportunities to partner with the consumer goods behemoth in a number of interesting ways, including leveraging Helpling as a distribution channel via the trusted cleaners it places in your home. The two companies were already working together on things like co-branded marketing campaigns, content development, and in-store promotions.
The Helpling founder also pressed home the point that the cleaners using the platform are already the expert on what kind of home cleaning products each customer/home requires and one idea being explored is how to utilise that data to help Unilever reach more of Helpling's online-savvy customers. In a world that is seeing customers abandon part or all of their in-store and brick 'n' mortar shop in favour of online outlets like Amazon, brands such as Unilever are exploring new ways of having a more direct relationship with those same customers in a bid to not become intermediated.
Likewise, a tie-in with Unilever, which could see Helpling offer subscription-based as well as on-demand commerce via its app, might well provide its cleaners and other gig workers using the platform with an additional revenue model via affiliate revenue. Franke has always stressed the importance of the supply side of the startup's home services marketplace, in which retaining and motivating quality cleaners and other home services workers is key.
To that end, Franke wouldn't be drawn on rumours that Amazon could still be planning to bring its home services offering to the U.K./Europe. Instead he used the tried and tested startup line that Helpling is focussed on its own goals not those of competitors.
Meanwhile, over the next 12 months, Helpling says it will continue its "path to profitability" -- something it also said when disclosing €10 million in new funding in March -- and plans to roll out additional household services 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," notes the Rocket Internet-founded company.