“I really wanted to be in an industry that no one else wanted to be in,” he said. “Silicon Valley isn’t really chasing us because at the end of the day you got to clean dirty toilets.”
Still, Holt had plenty of competition. Large cleaning service franchises include Merry Maids, Molly Maid and MaidPro. Small mom-and-pop operations fought for customers on a local level.
In order to seed his new business, Holt put away $150,000 over seven years. He spent his days working at the lab, but would moonlight flipping burgers, cleaning for friends and installing “for sale” signs for real estate agents to drum up extra cash.
Holt also shrunk his expenses, subsisting on fish sticks and rice every night. The upside was that he had no real social life, so he saved money that way, too.
“I was in my mid-20s,” he said. “Eating fish sticks and rice wasn’t very cool.”
Once Holt scraped up enough money, he bought a small one-man cleaning service in Pensacola, Florida, on April 1, 2003. That was Two Maids & A Mop’s first location.