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Rocket Internet’s GFC backs home care marketplace HomeTouch

ICE Graveyard 20/07/2016 Steve O'Hear

HomeTouch, the UK home care marketplace, has picked up £700,000 in new funding in a round led by Rocket Internet’s venture arm Global Founders Capital (GFC). Previous backer Passion Capital also participated, along with various angels, while I’m told the new capital will be used to invest in performance marketing and further product development.

Total funding raised by HomeTouch now stands at £1.75 million. This also includes a £250,000 grant from the UK government for R&D. I understand that this relates specifically to vetting and compliance features. “This will enable us to double down on being the true trust engine of social care,” HomeTouch founder and CEO Dr Jamie Wilson tells me. “If you look on the carer profiles, you’ll see their ‘licence to practice’ plugs into the government Disclosure and Barring Service Database”.

To that end, like similar online marketplace plays, which are sometimes rather disingenuously referred to as the sharing economy, HomeTouch connects families/those requiring home care with freelance care professionals. In that sense, the startup is a “trust” proposition as much as anything else, pitching itself as bringing greater transparency — pricing or otherwise — to a market previously dominated by the traditional agency model.

In a call with Wilson last December, he likened the service to online dating, claiming that price sensitivity often plays second fiddle to actually matching the right people, taking into account a carer’s experience and particular skill set and the required cultural fit to successfully place a carer in somebody’s home.

This has led to “outstanding customer ratings that validate the uniqueness and quality” of it model, says the HomeTouch founder, pointing me to the company’s Trustpilot score. “We now offer the widest and deepest coverage across London for an online care provider,” he claims. HomeTouch has also recently expanded to Brighton and the home counties, areas where there is strong demand for home care.

Meanwhile, why choose to align the startup with Rocket Internet’s GFC, which has a mixed reputation of late, and sometimes a tendency to back or found more than one startup in the same space.

Wilson says he thinks there are very good reasons to work with GFC over other interested parties, citing “operational efficiency, performance marketing, scaling and internationalization,” which are critical to the success of marketplaces.

“For sure Rocket have a very direct and demanding culture, but I haven’t found them to be anything less than professional and focused on our success and that includes founder and principals. Ultimately they believe in our model and we think it is a great validation of our achievement as European market leader,” he adds.

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