Research points out that 85% of allergies in India exist due to dirt and allergens in mattresses.Simple ideas can lead to effective solutions and CleanFanatic is another example of this phenomenon. We use mattresses every day and somehow accept the fact that mattresses will remain a bit dirty whatever you do. An MBA from NITIE, Nishant Prasad saw an opportunity in this space and started up CleanFanatic. Jubin Mehta from YourStory.in caught up with this entrepreneur to know a bit more about his venture. Edited Excerpts:
What is CleanFanatic all about, and how did the idea germinate?
CleanFanatic is a Bangalore based company, which specializes in indoor dust/allergen sanitization. Some of the major objects in the household like mattresses, upholstery and carpets require professional help for dust removal.
CleanFanatic started with the simple insight that while we clean everything in the household from the kitchen to the toilet, we never clean our mattresses. Infact, after discussion with experts and doctors, we discovered that mattresses were the dirtiest objects in the household. Ironically, we spend close to 1/3rd of our lives, in an area which is infested with allergens and microbial insects! And to my surprise, I found no satisfactory offering in this space although this service is fairly popular in the western world and is prescribed to infants and asthmatic patients as well as used as a preventive against lifetime diseases. And hence, CleanFanatic was born!
Tell us a bit about your background.
I am an MBA from NITIE and a BE from NIT Surat and have worked for almost 8 years in Healthcare and Consulting. I have worked for some of the leading consulting firms and have been exposed to a number of industries. I had this itch to start my own business in the growing and booming startup ecosystem in India and so here I am.
Did you bootstrap to startup? And, how has the response been so far?
The company has been entirely self-funded with my own savings and loans from family. While I was working, we had initiated pilots with doctors and a few acquaintances to get an idea of its efficacy as well as the market potential of such a service.
After quitting my job, we have started aggressively marketing this service across south Bangalore and are generating good sales. Over the last two months we have serviced close to 100 customers and almost 70% is through good old word of mouth.
The luxury services market is picking up in India at a great rate. Do you target this market only or is your target market wider?
Various international agencies have reported that indoor pollution can be 2 to 5 times worse than outdoor pollution. My target market would be all the households who would want a clean, dust and allergen free household. In addition, we also serve a number of day-cares, corporate and resorts.
While this concept is quickly appreciated by people in the middle and higher middle class and they form the bulk of our customers, in reality it could be almost anyone who needs pollution free indoors. Most of my customers cut across the spectrum–some are allergy/asthmatic patients, others with infants (whose immunity is low and hence susceptible to lifetime allergies), while others use our service as a preventive.
What is your revenue model?
The model is fairly simple. The customer initiates the sales cycle by calling the helpline and schedules the time for sanitizing his household. The payment is done once the cleaning is over.
We have also started an Annual Maintenance Contract(AMC), wherein we would be coming to the household twice in a year so that the customer does not have to bother calling us, and we are fairly sure of our sales in the coming year. The AMC also comes at a discount against our regular one-time service.
What is the kind of acceptance for this idea? How hard has the Bangalorean diaspora been bitten by the cleanliness bug?Yes, it is getting bigger. In fact, initially we had planned very low numbers, given that this was more of concept selling. However our few initial customers have spread the word of mouth rapidly and now we are servicing even large corporates and day-cares that have been referred to by our customers.
The residents of Bangalore are rightly concerned about the levels of high indoor pollution and the well-being of their kids/infants and a large number of our customers have been asking us for repeat services in the later part of the year. A good number of Expats and US/Europe returned professionals have been using and recommending our services regularly.
How big is your team? Do you plan to hire anytime soon?
The team is 5 member strong as of now, and we will be scaling up quickly to meet the rapidly growing demand. At present we are still to firm up the numbers and ideally we will double our capacity within the next two months.
Tell us a bit about the technology you use for cleaning.
We use a three-step process to remove the allergens from the Mattresses/Sofa/Carpets
The first step is scanning the area with UV-C light which kills 99% of the germs, the second is extracting allergens using a HEPA filter vaccum( which extract minutest allergens –unlike the normal vaccum cleaners in households) and the third step is using a patented anti-dust mite neem-based spray.
How many customers do you serve in a month? And, how do you plan to scale from here?
We provide services to almost 40 customers a month across Bangalore and almost 80% of our customers reach us through word of mouth and recommendations.
We also work for a few corporates, day-cares and resorts. The proportion of this part of customers is quite small as of now, and we plan to target the B2B segment more as there is a real need for professional services at their end, and this will make it easier for us to scale up.
What is the challenge that keeps you up at night? How do you plan to overcome it?
The greatest challenge for us is to maintain our high levels of quality and customer satisfaction once we grow rapidly and scale up. That is the only worry which keeps me up. The solution of course is to invest in high quality manpower and a strong training module.
How fanatic will CleanFanatic be in the future? Say, where do you see the business 2 years down the line?
Bangalore is our pilot city. We would like to spread either through our own operations or through franchisees to other major hubs of the country. As in any business, the extent of expansion would be directly proportional to the hunger of the team members and our commitment to customer quality. So if we maintain both, we are looking at a huge opportunity.
Any final word to the readers of YourStory.in?
I’d definitely want them to try out our service if they’re in Bangalore. Apart from this, they do need to be aware of the pollution (both indoor and outdoor) - that they are being exposed to and start taking steps to improve conditions for their well being. Though urban India has high levels of professional knowledge, the education on personal health and hygiene leaves a lot to be desired.
Wasn’t that one hell of an interesting & meaningful venture? The helpline number for CleanFanatic is +91 8722272777 and you can find more details about them at http://www.cleanfanatic.co.in/