VC Backed Companies Attacking Blue Collar Work

Nov 28, 2023

Franchises, as highlighted in the recent Slow Ventures deck, are redefining business with their unique model of creating repeatable, high-value intellectual property, combined with high margins and efficient distribution.

Despite some skepticism about the venture viability of “service businesses”, we found examples that clearly demonstrate why multi-location service-based ventures are not just viable investments but are also poised for substantial growth, profitability and expansion through franchising. Here are 12 ventures leveraging technology to scale blue collar services.

šŸš€If you’re interested in tech-first franchises, check out our upcoming event co-hosted with Slow Venture

1. Honey Homes

One Dedicated Handyman for Your HomeOne Dedicated Handyman for Your Home
Amount raised: $9 million
Lead Investor: Khosla Ventures
Franchising: No
Founded by another husband-wife team, Honey Homes offers handyman-on-demand service, providing homeowners with hassle-free home upkeep. With a Honey Homes membership, customers gain access to a dedicated handyperson for regular small jobs, proactive maintenance, and additional seasonal perks and partner offers. Similar to McDonalds University, Honey Homes University was launched to ensure consistent training of their talent. Unlike many other home service providers, Honey Homes hires all of their handymen as full-time employees.

2. Alchemy 43

An aesthetics bar specializing in cosmetic microtreatmentsAn aesthetics bar specializing in cosmetic microtreatments
Amount raised: $3.2 million
Lead Investor: Forerunner Ventures
Franchising: No
Nicci, with a successful career in corporate cosmetics, had a pivotal ‘aha’ moment during her tenure at Allergan, the maker of Botox. This experience inspired the creation of Alchemy 43, a noninvasive spa specializing in injectables like Botox and fillers. The recent investment by Forerunner is fueling its expansion to 26 locations by the end of 2023.

3. Stress Free

Stress-Free Auto CareStress-Free Auto Care
Amount raised: Undisclosed
Lead Investor: Current Lead (Undisclosed), Past Lead : Watchfire Ventures
Franchising: Not Yet
Yinon Weiss, founded CarDash (YC S17) and sold it to Daimler. Along the way he identified a significant gap in the market - many customers lacked trust in auto repair shops. Instead of selling software to late adopter, auto shops, Yinon, a former Marine, deciced to buy auto shops and compete in the auto repair market under the Stress Free brand. Stress Free used homegrown software to deliver a better user experience.

4. Drybar

The best blow dry bar focused on just blowoutsThe best blow dry bar focused on just blowouts
Amount raised: $20 million
Lead Investor: SPK Capital
Franchising: Previously
Alli, a professional hairstylist by trade, discovered the demand for blowouts when she was initially offering $40 blowouts to her friends. She then founded Drybar with her brother Michael. Drybar focuseses exclusively on blowouts, but also offers professional-quality beauty products and tools. Creating and embracing this niche, Drybar has expanded to 143 units across the USA, and was later acquired by a franchise portfolio company WellBiz Brands.

5. Craftwork

The easy way to paint your homeThe easy way to paint your home
Amount raised: $6M
Lead Investor: Forerunner Ventures
Franchising: No
Tim Griffin, who previously took a company from 0 to $150M in 18 months, teamed up with his wife and two friends to address a shared challenge of home ownership. Beginning with home painting, Craftwork streamlines home services by integrating a skilled workforce and a vertical software solution.

6. Curry Up Now

Indian Street FoodIndian Street Food
Amount raised: Undisclosed
Lead Investor:Liquid 2 Ventures
Franchising: Yes
Married for 25 years and working together for most of those, Akash and Rana Kappoor had a unique wine night idea: selling Indian food from a taco truck. Starting out with a mobile location, Curry Up Now is now the largest and fastest growing Indian fast casual restaurant chain in North America. With appearances in the NBA star Steph Curry’s 5 Minutes from Home YouTube series and TV show Ugly Delicious, Curry Up Now is quickly establishing a new category of Indian Street Food.

7. Metropolis & SPplus

A hands-on parking operator A hands-on parking operator
Amount raised: $1.7B
Lead Investor: Eldridge Capital and 3L Capital
Franchising: No
Metropolis, founded by Alex Israel after he sold ParkMe to Intrix, is an AI-powered parking platform that allows customers to effortlessly drive in and out without using credit cards or cash. In line with the vision to redefine the parking experience, Metropolis raised $1.7B to acquire SPlus, a public company with a massive parking footprint across the U.S. and Canada.

8. Heyday Skincare

Expert Facials & Personalized TreatmentsExpert Facials & Personalized Treatments
Amount raised: $70M
Lead Investor: General Catalyst
Franchising: Yes
Adam Ross, leveraging over 12 years of experience in M&A within the consumer and retail sectors, identified an upward trajectory in the beauty segment. He started Heyday Skincare which takes the facial out of the spa and positions them as a regular and needed self-care routine, particularly appealing to the Millennial and Gen Z demographics. Heyday is rapidly expanding across the US, with over 20 locations and 100 franchise agremeents signed.

9. DogDrop

Dog daycareDog daycare
Amount raised: $2.9M
Lead Investor: Fuel Capital
Franchising: Yes
Shaina Denny struggled to balance work and pet care after returning to LA from China. Her venture, DogDrop, caters to pet owners needing a flexible dog daycare solution, allowing them to drop off and pick up their dogs as their schedules demand. Launched right before COVID, Dogdrop captured the new overwhelming wave of pet owners. They started the franchising journey with a multi-unit deal for five locations in Denver.

10. Humming Homes

A digital home manager that handles any home service for you A digital home manager that handles any home service for you
Amount raised: $5.6 million
Lead Investor: Greyloft
Franchising: No
Recognizing that 68% of U.S. households are dual-income and face challenges in managing home maintenance, co-founders Adeel Mallick and Kyle Carnes developed software that consolidates the entire home-maintenance process into a single app. Humming Homes allows customers to easily order, schedule, and pay for services in a one-stop business.

11. PipeDreams

The next gen, tech-powered home services providerThe next gen, tech-powered home services provider
Amount raised:$5.15 million
Lead Investor: Unknown
Franchising: No
PipeDreams is carving a niche in the home services industry with its tech-powered approach. The recent funding is a significant endorsement of PipeDreams’ potential to leverage technology in transforming the traditional home services landscape, aligning with the growing demand for tech-integrated solutions in everyday life.

12. Squeeze Massage

A Way Better Massage ExperienceA Way Better Massage Experience
Amount raised: Undisclosed
Lead Investor: Centre Street Partners
Franchising: Yes
Launched in 2019 by the founders of Drybar, Squeeze is addressing the gap between high-end spas and mediocre discount establishments with it’s tech-first approach. Expanding rapidly since beginning franchising in 2021, Squeeze now has over 60 units in development across Texas. A proprietary app streamlines the entire massage experience and allows users to customize every aspect of their service for a consistently personalized experience.

Ventures that haven’t raised yet:

We are on the lookout for service-based businesses that might have not raised yet such as Eat Blueprint.

If you know any other examples, please reach out at mariyam@wefranch.com

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