In our Tomorrow’s Leaders series, we’re always on the lookout for success stories from the UK’s leading start-ups. Last month, we heard from Adam Barker from MagnaPass about how he left the financial field to start his own company. This month, we welcome Avin Rabheru from Housekeep. Housekeep helps homes and businesses find the best cleaners in their local area, and has been featured in the Startups 100 for each of the last four years while winning numerous ‘Start-up of the Year’ awards.
What’s your career story in a nutshell?
I started out as a strategy consultant, advising large corporations and private equity houses on strategy, operations, and finance. After a few years, I moved into venture capital – investing in and advising high growth companies in the UK and Nordics.
I always wanted to start my own business so I took the leap in 2014, founding Housekeep. In the first few years my job was very hands-on, helping to acquire the first customer, cleaner and employee. We’ve grown incredibly fast since then and are now the biggest house cleaning service in the UK, so my role has evolved to being more about providing guidance to the rest of the team. I also still invest personally in early-stage businesses and have a few non-executive director roles from those.
What has been your proudest career moment, so far?
Without a doubt, building a top-tier management team here at Housekeep. We’ve been fortunate to attract some exceptional talent, and working with such bright, motivated, and fun people is a pleasure.
Describe your workspace. Are you tidy, or do you work in organised chaos?
I’m a neat freak, so definitely tidy. I’ve managed to go almost entirely paperless and wireless, but still have a single white pad where I’ll occasionally need to scribble or draw to organise my thoughts.
Tea or coffee?
Coffee. A simple white filter.
Which stationery item could you not live without?
My Montblanc rollerball. I don’t really use it and my handwriting is illegible, but it’s nice to look at.
Who is your business idol, and why?
It may sound cliched, but my dad. Watching his example, I learned to do things right and figured out that the rest generally follows.
What’s the best thing Housekeep has allowed you to do?
Learn. Starting, growing, and running a business is hard because you’re continually facing new and unexpected challenges. To overcome such challenges, you’ve got to keep testing, learning, and iterating.
Which workplace habits can you not stand?
What advice would you give to people starting their own business?
My brutal, honest advice is – don’t. It’s hard to build a sustainable, valuable business and most founders fail. But if you’re desperate to start your own business, you might just have what it takes. You should focus your energies on collecting data, testing ideas, and iterating your business model. Improve your business every single day and you’ll be in good shape.
Take each step as it comes, and celebrate the milestones along the way.
How do you switch off?
I rarely ‘switch off’ fully. The reality is that work and life are the same thing when running your own business. However, I’ve become increasingly disciplined about not working, especially when on holiday, occasionally by hacking myself (for example, deleting my email from my phone). I invariably get curious, though, and can out-hack myself to find out what’s happening.
What’s next for Housekeep? What are your plans for the future?
In our first three years, we’ve already become the UK’s biggest provider of house and office cleaners. We think we’ve set up a strong platform for even faster growth here on out, and our long-term mission is to become the leading provider of home services across the UK. This means more cities and more services, so watch this space.
Want to share your start-up advice and help the next generation of entrepreneurs? To become part of the Tomorrow’s Leaders series, get in touch with us on Twitter at @viking_chat.