Image credit ShutterstockWhen technology meets innovation, it makes the lives of both consumers and service providers more convenient. After the success of Uber in the US, many startups have taken inspiration and come out with ‘Uber for X’ services. While some may consider this merely copying a proven concept, the truth is that execution is everything. Each demographic has a different set of problems, which require entrepreneurs to innovate and tackle them through ‘jugaad’.
Mr. Right is an on-demand local service platform for household needs. Users can avail services such as hiring a plumber, air-conditioning installation, getting their car washed, or assembling furniture from among a total of 11 services. Mr. Right serves as a marketplace and lets users hire professionals for jobs at home or the office.
How it works?
Users can choose from the list of predefined jobs, select subcategories based on the nature of their problems, and then view their estimated costs before scheduling an appointment for up to 30 days in advance. Once the user has made the booking, their algorithm assigns the closest available professional on the job.
Mr. Right was co-founded by two childhood friends Prashant Chaudhary and Mayank Agrawal in the summer of 2013. Prashant holds a BS in Computers from Purdue University, USA. His technical experience includes his tenure with ProTrans, a supply-chain company in USA where he developed business programs for logistics, warehouse management, supply management, and distribution. He moved back to India in late 2012 to pursue his start-up dream. Mayank leads the marketing and operations at Mr. Right. Before Mr. Right, Mayank ran a successful B2B sanitary business and has first-hand experience of the field.
The startup initially operated as a service provider, hiring home service professionals on board. They wanted to deliver the best possible experience by having better control on quality, time, and presentation. They ran with a team of more than 50 hired ‘pros’ for almost six months and experimented with different pricing models.
While it was going well in the initial stages the team of 10 technopreneurs realised that it was difficult to scale and operate in other cities with the current business model. They considered alternatives such as pivoting to a listing or franchise model, but then after talking to VCs, industry experts, and studying how Thumbtack, Red Beacon, Task Rabbit etc., functioned decided to pivot to a marketplace model.
Pivot and learnings
They pivoted to be an on-demand local service platform in March 2014, and since have been able to on board more than 600 professionals across Delhi NCR. During his stay in the US, Prashant had used similar services and so he had a good understanding of how to go ahead.
One of their challenges was standardisation of prices as the sector was disorganised and there were no clear price points or estimates that consumers were aware of.
On their website and on their app they have a trending section to keep users updated on what services are most in demand. They found that in some cases the difference between expectations versus reality were quite far off. There was a lot of demand for car wash related services, but had no data to understand the reason.
Mr. Right currently accepts payment only through COD and found that in some cases the professionals quoted and collected wrong prices from the customers. They are currently planning to integrate digital payments to make it easier.
After a month since the launch of their mobile app, they found that almost 50 per cent of their orders were made from mobile phones.If the trend continues, they are also considering going mobile app only, similar to Flipkart and Myntra.
Getting qualified professionals on board
Mr. Right ensures that professionals who are on their platform have the required qualifications and work experience. Most of their freelancers are hired through inbound referrals. The professionals are required to register themselves at the office and go through a third-party verification process.
They found that in 5 to7 per cent of cases, the professionals either quoted wrong prices or tried to bypass the system once they had contacted customers through a previous transaction. While these cases are rare, Mr. Right prompts their customers to rate the professional after every job so they can filter the non-performers.
“Since we are a need-based service, we generate a lot of incoming traffic through organic sources like SEO, word-of mouth,the Facebook page (30K fans), and our home improvement blog. We've incorporated multiple growth hacks into our product to keep our customers coming back for more.”says Prashant.
Pairing complimentary services: They found that on most occasions people who signed up for air conditioning services, would most likely need carpentry services as well for the frame of the machine.
Gamification: Mr. Right provides credits when a friend of a current user signs up through them.
Social Media: They encourage users to click pictures of ongoing work and services and tweet it or share it on their Facebook page for special offers or discounts.
For paid marketing, Mr. Right optimizes their investment in digital marketing through emails, FB and Google. “We also try unconventional but tightly focused media channels like Barista and Haldiram outlets.We are a big time believers in growth hacking and wants to convert our customers into evangelists.” says Prashant. At one point they assumed that housewives were their target audience but found that their data showed otherwise. So, they advertised their services through newspapers and through video ads at Barista and Haldiram outlets.
Others in the sector
Local technicians and service centres; listing portals such as JustDial, Sulekha, YellowPages, Near.in; and service providers such as Jack on Block, Hammer and Mop are in the same segment indirectly.While aggregators like UrbanClap, Doormint, TimeSaverz, and Zepper are in the same segment directly.
Mr. Right launched their customer facing mobile app for Android and iOS last month, and will be rolling out another app this month for all their professionals in Delhi NCR. So far, the professionals had been receiving their orders and booking over phones and SMSes. Mr. Right is in the process of providing smartphones to them, so that they can receive jobs round the clock and provide more convenience to consumers.
The startup is currently bootstrapped but are now out in market and in conversations with VCs to raise early stage capital. They are in the process of expanding to Bangalore this summer, and into Mumbai by December 2015; and are aiming to on board at least 1500 professionals in each metro city. They are also in talks with multiple digital payment companies for possible collaborations.