Editor’s Note: This content was originally created by our team for Innovate78.
During his senior year of college at California Baptist University, San Diego native Mike Glanz had two jobs. On the weekends, he loaded and unloaded moving trucks with his college roommate Pete Johnson. During the week, he studied information systems management and worked part-time as a software developer. After Glanz and Johnson both graduated, they paired their moving experience and Glanz’s software skills together and decided to create HireAHelper.
The entrepreneurs felt they could build a marketplace for “Hybrid™ moving,” which combines the cost savings of the do-it-yourself moving approach with the convenience of hiring loading and unloading help from professional movers.
“So, we built a prototype of the application and raised a little bit of seed money from family, quit our jobs, prayed, crossed our fingers and launched in 2007,” Glanz said, also CEO of HireAHelper, which was acquired this summer by Seattle-based home improvement marketplace company Porch.
I recently caught up with Glanz, who gave me the deets on how the Oceanside-based eCommerce startup has become the leading online marketplace for hiring hourly mover labor anywhere in the United States.
The Deal: HireAHelper allows consumers to compare local movers in order to get the best deal – all online. It’s simple to use and lists which equipment is included in the moving fee (like furniture pads, dollies, and plastic wrap), as well as extra costs.
Niche Market: According to Glanz, 10.1 percent of Americans (32.4 million people) moved in 2018. While a small segment of people employ a full-service moving company, the vast majority of them chose to move themselves, he said. “We serve these do-it-yourself movers by providing an affordable place to hire local movers to do all the heavy lifting. This hybrid approach is much more affordable than hiring a full-service moving company, and a far more appreciated solution than begging friends and family for couch-lifting help.”
Growth: Since HireAHelper was launched in 2007, more than 300,000 customers have booked moving labor through the site with most of the growth coming from customers’ word-of-mouth and repeat orders, Glanz said.
HireAHelper initially launched as a horizontal marketplace, offering day labor, cleaning, yard work, and help moving. The company has since pivoted to become a vertical marketplace with a mission to operate the best moving labor quoting and booking tool on the web. HireAHelper has over 1,000 moving service providers across the United States and conducts more than 65,000 moving jobs each year.
“We’re looking to continue to expand our services – connecting people with every type of moving service, not just hybrid moving,” Glanz said. “Instead of only offering one moving service, labor, HireAHelper will soon connect people with rental trucks, boxes, or even full service movers with a truck.”
“The 12 years we’ve been in business, there were only four months that we didn’t have year-over-year growth,” he added. “There’s just so much opportunity in the moving space. We’ve worked hard to build out our network of quality movers in the major markets around the country and generate some awareness around the Hybrid moving approach. Last year, we reached $20 million in sales, so it’s a moving model that continues to gain adoption.”
Cash Flow: When the company first launched, HireAHelper raised about $350,000 from friends and family. HireAHelper was recently acquired by a well-funded strategic partner. “Right now, we’re focused squarely on driving growth instead of raising more cash,”Glanz said.
Local Roots: Glanz, who was born and raised in Mission Beach, attended college in Riverside and wanted to stay in Southern California for his career. That’s when he started looking along the 78 Corridor.
“Oceanside, and North County San Diego in general, are simply more affordable places to operate than in the higher-rent downtown San Diego district,” he said. “Oceanside has also really grown up in recent years. About 10 years ago, there weren’t a whole lot of options in terms of restaurants or other services – but now it’s a growing scene with new companies, craft breweries, and restaurants opening all the time. We’re very happy in Oceanside.”
Startup Scene: Glanz believes the San Diego region’s startup scene is no doubt burgeoning and gaining momentum as a hub. “And I think there are far more resources today than there were 10 years ago along the 78 corridor,” he said. “It’s cool to see how the ecosystem has really grown in North County San Diego. It’s a blend of talented people from South Orange County and San Diego that are shaping a unique tech scene.”
“A startup-friendly culture is emerging here in North County as it seems entrepreneurs are coming out of the woodwork, and it’s nice to be a part of that,” he added. “I love being an entrepreneur. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. But being part of this North County tech community makes it a special experience. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”
Listen to more of Glanz’s entrepreneurial journey on the Tacos & Tech Podcast with Neal Bloom.
Editor’s Note: Innovation Hub is an original FBT series celebrating the extraordinary companies that span across the entire San Diego region. From software to healthcare tech, retail tech, Agtech, AI, fintech, cybersecurity, brewing and more, this series takes a deeper dive into the innovative industries that make up the collaborative culture of this diverse ecosystem.