Co-founders: Rodolfo Corcuera
& Ana Isabel Orvañanos
Investors: Promotora Social Mexico (PSM), VARIV Capital, Capital Invent, Dila Capital, and Gentera’s Fiinlab
Aliada is a Mexican domestic labor platform that connects you with “Aliadas,” professionals that provide domestic and office cleaning services, that just raised an undisclosed round of funding from Promotora Social Mexico (PSM), VARIV Capital, Capital Invent, Dila Capital, and Gentera through its innovation arm Fiinlab.
Since launching in September 2014, Aliada now provides 50,000 services monthly, and expects to reach over 60,000 services by the end of 2017. In this interview with founders Ana Isabel Orvañanos and Rodolfo Corcuera, we explore how Aliada is trying to impact the lives of thousands of Mexicans while combating the social stigma associated with domestic labor.
LAVCA: What is Aliada, and who is using the platform?
Ana Isabel Orvañanos & Rodolfo Corcuera: We believe that the biggest market and biggest problem is inside people’s homes and SMB’s that can’t be served by traditional cleaning companies. We think it is important to help you find your ideal cleaner instead of matching you with whoever is available, like Handy or Uber. This is why our platform works more like Airbnb. Cleaners can select their own rates, where new professionals have the incentive of lowering their price to find more customers. On the user side, we have customers that had never paid for domestic services before.
We don’t see the Aliadas as domestic workers. 80% had never worked as domestic cleaners…these women are warriors. We focus on providing these men and women with the right set of tools so they can thrive and generate more income for themselves and their families.
LAVCA: What is the market opportunity on both sides of the platform?
Ana Isabel Orvañanos & Rodolfo Corcuera: We don’t see the Aliadas as domestic workers. 80% had never worked as domestic cleaners; they are secretaries, masseuses, teachers. Aliadas are generally mothers, including single moms, that create their own schedules in geographies close to them. These women are warriors, so on one side, we see that opportunity from the number of people who will benefit from this flexibility.
On the customer side, hiring someone to clean their home on an hourly basis makes a lot of sense. Instead of paying MXN$350 for somebody to work for eight hours, they would rather pay MXN$220 for four hours. This way, Aliadas are able to provide 2-3 services a day and earn MXN$600-MXN$700 per day.
For SMB’s we just launched a dedicated service where we handle all the hassle of running an office for them. Under this subsidiary, we hire all of the Aliadas, with above the market social security and benefits and provide our customers with wholesale prices for everything they need, from snacks, to stationary, and everything in between.
LAVCA: Aliada is an example of a non-fintech company that is exploring the fintech space through your short-term loan program to Aliadas. How did this come about?
Ana Isabel Orvañanos & Rodolfo Corcuera: The way the platform works is that the more services Aliadas provide, the more benefits they have. We’re giving out micro-loans for the best Aliadas. We also have a program through which we sell them mobile phones, their working tool for providing services.
What started out as a problem for us—how are we going to deposit the money?—became a huge opportunity, because it increased the barriers to entry. It helped us increase the retention rate of the Aliadas, and at the same time, we gained better information and understanding of how our users and how they spend their money.
This “experiment” (i.e. the loans) is going extremely well; we have 100% repayment from the Aliadas.
LAVCA: What numbers can share about traction to date?
Ana Isabel Orvañanos & Rodolfo Corcuera: In March 2017 we grew 19%, the month before that we grew 16%, and the month before that we grew 42%. We have provided over 200,000 services since we started, and we provided 20,000+ in July.
We also have a higher percentage of retention. We are targeting a monthly GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) of MXN$80m (or over 60,000 services a month) by the end of this year. We’re also looking to expand beyond Mexico.
LAVCA: Aliada just raised a round of capital from a great syndicate of Mexican investors: Promotora Social Mexico (PSM), VARIV Capital, Capital Invent, Dila Capital, and Gentera through its innovation arm Fiinlab. Before that, Aliada received US$100k in 2014 in angel investment, and US$800k from venture investors. Walk us through your funding to date.
Rodolfo Corcuera: I’m a finance attorney, so I never saw myself as an entrepreneur. I didn’t even know what a minimum viable product (MVP) was. Nevertheless, I felt extremely compelled to do something about this problem—about 2.9 million domestic workers live in really bad conditions.
Then Aliada started growing. I took a big financial risk and had to sell my car to make ends meet. I even had to rent my place on Airbnb. That’s when I met Ana Isabel. I was running out of money and probably had a few thousand pesos in the bank, when a friend of mine vouched for me and he lent me the first MXN$800k (about $US40k). Then another friend invested MXN$500k more.
From this point on, we started growing consistently every single month, and that is when I met Alejandro Diez Barroso at Dila Capital and Rafael del Haro at VARIV Capital, and they financed our first seed round.
Aliada has the potential to not only change the lives of millions of women, but also the industry itself.
Now we have a great team: American engineers, Puerto Rican engineers, South American engineers, a lot of talented people behind this mission. I think Aliada can have not only the potential to change the lives for millions of women, but the industry itself. We are providing a product that can change the lives of people.
LAVCA: How have your investors helped Aliada so far?
Ana Isabel Orvañanos & Rodolfo Corcuera: All of our investors have been integral. They’re very different from each other, which creates an ideal environment to keep learning.
Aliada would not be what it is without our investors…They’ve given us great mentors, introductions, and have been incredibly supportive.
Aliada would not be what it is without our investors, especially without Endeavor. They have been crucial players in Aliada’s life. They’ve given us great mentors, introductions, and have been incredibly supportive.
Alberto Taracena with Capital Invent is a proven entrepreneur. He founded Metros Cúbicos. It is difficult to be an entrepreneur, so it is great having that type of mentor. Rafael del Haro from VARIV Capital is a young investor, and it is inspiring to learn with him. Their support of our mission and of us personally really pushes us forward.
Alejandro Diez Barroso was our first investor, and now a friend. John Farrell, the former YouTube Latin America Director, is also an investor. John has been a great mentor on how to manage a company and not only on how to become a product developer and manager, but also how to be a better CEO.
LAVCA: How do you explain the opportunity for Aliada in Mexico to foreign investors?
Ana Isabel Orvañanos & Rodolfo Corcuera: The market is huge compared to the U.S., it is one of the few markets that is actually bigger in Mexico. Also, the currency risk plays in our favor right now, because it is cheaper to invest in Mexico. It is exciting to see the traction we have had so far, and how far can we really go. We have the potential to change millions of lives.
LAVCA: What are your expansion plans with your new funding?
Ana Isabel Orvañanos & Rodolfo Corcuera: Great service expands beyond borders, so we’re really focusing on having our users really happy and making sure the impact is very strong on our suppliers before we try to dream of becoming the MercadoLibre for home services in Latin America.
Even though we have been seeing a lot of traction, we still have a lot to learn. So we are using this funding round to expand, but mostly to increase our impact on our users. I think that is how great companies are made, and I think we have the potential to become a legendary company here in Mexico City and once we do this, we will begin focusing on scaling to other cities in LatAm.