Clean living in a click

A new app makes it easier than ever to get your house cleaned, but we wanted to hear more about the people behind the app.

From left

A new app makes it easier than ever to get your house cleaned, but we wanted to hear more about the people behind the app.Imagine your house is a bit of a mess (for some of us that’s easier to imagine than others), and you have company coming next weekend but a full week ahead of you. Instead of pulling late nights to get it all done in time, you schedule a cleaning from your phone and a vetted cleaning professional gets it done.With the new app, Neatso, this on-demand service is entirely possible. Download the app or sign up on the website to fill in your details and get a quote. Then, simply schedule your cleaning.Cleanings require a two-hour minimum and you can request cleaners either on-demand or on a regular basis. On the other side of the app, the cleaners are able to use the technology as a simple way to connect with clients and get all of the scheduling details in one place.As interesting as it is to sign up for a home cleaning with a few quick finger swipes on your phone, the people behind the app might not be whom you would expect.Andrew Johnson and brothers Jason and Brandon Arthurs are business partners and co-founders of Neatso, but they have no background in cleaning homes nor have they built dozens of apps before this one. Even still, they feel they are the right guys for the job.Why? Because at the core, it all comes down to problem solving.”If you can be calm and collected, it will go well,” said Jason, both in regards to his business and the people he hires.Jason, 35, and Johnson, 27, both graduates of University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, first met in 2008 at the Carolina Photojournalism Workshop. Jason was there as a coach as he had worked for several years as a photojournalist at various North Carolina newspapers, and Andrew was still a student at the time. Within the following few years, Jason had transitioned to working full-time as a freelancer, doing photo and video projects as well as directing and producing documentaries such as “Without a Fight” and “The Last Barn Dance.” Meanwhile, Johnson graduated and traveled to Kenya to also work on the “Without a Fight” documentary before moving to Florida to work as a photojournalist for a newspaper.After some encouragement from Jason and a desire to be closer to the woman who is now his wife, Johnson moved back to Raleigh in early 2013. The two continued to work on various video projects both together and independently, effectively learning the ropes as private contractors and small business owners. From dealing with invoicing to pursuing new work to learning how to best market their strengths and differentiating factors, they were unknowingly building a foundation of business skills for Neatso.Before Neatso came to be they joked that Jason had a couple of good ideas they never acted on. Johnson eventually told Jason that the next time he had an idea they would do something about it. When Jason realized that he and several of his friends had a hard time finding and scheduling a trusted home cleaner to clean his apartment, the idea for an app presented itself and they decided to pursue the possibility.Johnson had always enjoyed coding and web development on the side, so he welcomed the opportunity to learn Swift, a programming language, to build the app. Once it became clear that this was a viable business venture, Jason’s brother, Brandon, began overseeing the financials for the business. Brandon, who lives in Florida and works in wealth management for Merrill Lynch, had faced similar problems finding a home cleaner. Jason then handled the legal side of setting up the business, the onboarding process with the cleaners, and marketing the app.From the beginning, they have been intentional and cautious with their funds. Between already having the office space from their videography work and the skills to make the business happen, their overhead costs were low. After meeting with a few other on-demand businesses and studying the successes and downfalls of those who have built similar apps, they focused on being profitable from day one of the launch. Other than friends and family, they are self-funded and have not yet taken on investors, although they are set up in a way that may be conducive to that in the future.”We wanted to make sure we could control our growth,” said Jason.After an initial beta test with some apartment buildings in Raleigh, they launched in February with the iOS app in addition to the website. From varying marketing techniques to a day of “going viral” when an Instagram account highlighted their business before they were ready to meet the demand, each new accomplishment is met with new challenges. All the while, Jason and Johnson have continued working with clients doing video, photography, and marketing.Right now, Neatso is in the Triangle area with hopes of expanding, especially to areas like Asheville where there is a number of Airbnbs that need cleaning after each guest. Eventually, they plan to take the app to larger areas around the country.Both are excited for the potential with Neatso and hope to make it their full-time jobs and focus, but until then, they seem to be content to continue working on video and photography as well. Despite what it may look like from the outside, perhaps this new app is not so different from what they were already doing after all. At the end of the day, they are still problem solvers.