In just two years, a local cleaning company has swept through some of Ottawa’s busiest commercial districts to become the primary service provider for over 30 well-known commercial properties.
Just Too Clean got its start in 2021, just as COVID-19 closures forced businesses to cut costs, in turn causing many local cleaners to shut their doors. It was an unexpected gap in the market and Nana Boadu and Tapiwa Mukova, both 29, stepped in.
“It was just one of those things,” said Mukova. “We thought, with COVID, we had time to plan. Why not start a cleaning business?
“It was the perfect time, because most of the businesses that were doing it before were out of business and people were looking for new companies to work with. We saw an opportunity to enter the market and, with cleaning, the startup costs were low,” he added.
Mukova is a graduate of Algonquin College, where he studied tourism and hospitality management before going on to work at a hotel in various roles. Boadu, who studied political science at Carleton University, was introduced to carpet cleaning while he was in school.
Their first job came from one individual who needed a cleaning service for several properties he owned.
“It was humble beginnings,” said Mukova. “We say it started with two men and one bucket.”
Mukova and Boadu have known each other since they were five years old. They grew up together in Ghana and reconnected during their post-secondary studies.
“I came here after high school,” said Boadu. “About a year into my studies here, (Mukova) hit me up and said, ‘Hey, I’m in Canada. I’m coming to Algonquin College.’ And I was like, what? I’m in Ottawa, too.”
Together, Mukova and Boadu manage the day-to-day operations of Just Too Clean. They recruited 26-year-old Amy Millen, also an Algonquin graduate, to handle their marketing and design with a view to rapidly growing their client base.
“We were all basically tired of our nine-to-fives, so I quit mine to do this with them,” said Millen. “It was the best decision I ever made.”
To build brand recognition, they built a portfolio, documenting their work and integrating images into their marketing. “Within a couple of weeks, we really had some good contracts,” said Boadu.
In fact, they have over 30 contracts with local businesses and commercial property owners, as well as dozens of residential contracts. Their clients in the ByWard Market include Room 104, Blackmarket Barbershop, The Show, J’TM Resto Bar, Hyde & Seek, HeadQuarters, and The Palace. They’ve also signed on CRAFT Beer Market, The Waverley, and Happy Fish.
They now employ more than 15 people to complete the work, which ranges from daily cleaning, to weekly or monthly cleaning.
While they’re still expanding in Ottawa, they’ve started considering options to grow into other markets, including Montreal and Toronto and potentially as far away as Calgary.
“We’re also looking into getting some larger equipment and expanding our team so we can be as efficient as possible,” said Millen.
They’ve also started looking at other ways to grow their brand recognition. Last month, they officially kicked off a new partnership with soccer team Atlético Ottawa. When Atlético keeps their opponent off the scoresheet, it’s described on the team’s social media as a “clean sheet” in partnership with Just Too Clean.
For Mukova and Boadu, who are both soccer fans, the partnership is a testament to their success so far.
“It’s a good local team and they just did a rebrand,” said Mukova. “They were trying to find local companies who also have a good impact. They really liked our company and what we do. That’s how this came about: through good work.”
As they continue to grow, they agree that delivering high-quality service is their main priority.
“We’ve been the trusted and most reliable cleaning company for many businesses,” said Millen. “We’ve had places message us at the last minute and there’s never been a time where we didn’t show up. We really pride ourselves on our reliability. They can trust without checking the work that it is not only going to be done, but done well.
“We’re building a reliable, young, energetic team that works hard. That’s what’s important to us,” she added.
Mia Jensen, June 12, 2023
Ottawa Business Journal