Canadian Startup Kutoto Scores Major Exposure on App Store

It’s been a good week for Montreal-based startup Kutoto after the folks at Apple’s Canadian app store took a liking to their new subsidiary cleaning app.

Presently the collaborative consumption platform appears as one of 25 “New and Noteworthy” apps in the Canadian app store, as well as one of 10 featured apps in the “Made in Canada” banner feature.

The cleaning app is also plastered on an editor’s pick banner in the “Lifestyles” section of the app store.

Launched in mid-February, cofounders Anton Yushin, Julien Cassis and Abi Al- Sweidi dubbed the Kutoto marketplace, “Canada’s first personalized assistance platform and marketplace.” It connects Canadians short on time and in need of quick services with a network of pre-approved individuals, be it for a grocery delivery, mowing a lawn or any task. The app launched in Toronto and Montreal, gaining around 25,000 users in four months.

Over the past four months the company noticed a spike in requests for quality cleaning services.

It’s not something we marketing for or expected to be a big vertical, but quite a few of our users signing up were requesting cleaning services as their first request,” Yushin told Techvibes. “So we decided to pull it out and based on the fact that we had this huge platform, the app was so simple and quick to build that there was no reason not to try.”

Yushin played down the assumption that people can easily find cleaning ladies through newspaper or online classifieds or social networks. Sites like Craig’s List can be unsafe with no verification system, he said, so “somebody off the street with no working permit or experience can put up an ad on Craig’s list.” The prevailing method is actually word-of-mouth.

Express Cleaning by Kutoto is available in all major Canadian cities and works just like Kutoto’s regular app: members list whatever tasks they need completed and how much money they’ll offer and a network of pre-approved individuals can take the jobs. The app store feature is sure to give the startup a nice boost in terms of exposure and Kutoto hopes some of that traffic might trickle into it’s original app.

The original app took eight months to build prior to February 2012 and Yushin’s team relied on data-driven analytics over marketing. “Really understanding where you can optimize the process flow of the acquisition channels, etc.,” said Yushin.

The biggest challenge for Kutoto was building up a backend that could adequately handle the hurdles involved in acting as a middleman between service provider and seeker. The app must notify, remind and consistently keep users on track. It brought the team “tremendous logistical experience,” and the result was a simple user interface requiring five taps on the user’s part. 

Kutoto will continually look to release more subsidiary apps based on demand.

The company was bootstrapped for most of 2012 until October when they closed a private equity round worth $350,000.

Yushin and Cassis met at McGill University where they developed a platform for the “distributed human computing problem,” outsourcing any type of computer-related problem that a computer couldn’t quickly solve (such as image recognition). The potential was huge but Yushin said there was no commercial value for day-to-day users.

“We saw there was this huge void of not solving computer problems so much, but solving literally day-to-day problems,” said Yushin. “Solving and outsourcing a problem like that became a clear and apparent way for us to commercialize a similar idea that we built at school, except now at a much more people-to-people level.”