Handy, the on-demand cleaning service company, had to struggle to survive, however, founders Hanrahan and Dua never gave up on their dream. The two shared an apartment while attending Harvard Business School and they developed the idea for an on-demand cleaning service from living with a third untidy roommate.

Handy.com’s timing was good and venture capital followed, but as with any good business idea, competitors soon appeared, forcing the company to seek more venture capital to outspend competitors. When closest competitor Homejoy folded in 2015, the founders were both relieved and worried at the same time. To save money, the founders decided to let chatbot handle some of the customer service work, allowing them to lay off some of their human employees.

As with an company breaking into a new market, mistakes happened. Demand was great, however, Handy struggled with finding enough qualified cleaners. In 2014, Handy decided to concentrate on its existing markets and to temporarily halt expansion into new cities. It was a gamble; competitors could swoop in, however, the move paid off. Being able to recruit enough cleaners meant fewer canceled appointments and happier customers, which stopped the flood of negative reviews.

Today, Handy is doing much better; each customer costs less to acquire and Handy does not have to run run as many discounted promotions as they once did. Profitability should follow shortly.