Batchmates from IIT Kanpur Varun Khaitan and Abhiraj Bhal have known each other for a decade now. After spending a few years at The Boston Consulting Group, both started discussions on what and how to startup over weekend conference calls across the seas. They later got together in Delhi. They met Raghav Chandra, an engineer at Twitter, through mutual friends and connected instantly. Their shared ambitions, interests and complementary skill sets drew them together.
The company founded by the trio, UrbanClap, is claimed to be one of the largest mobile services marketplace in India today. They have raised Rs 10 crores in funding from SAIF Partners, Accel Partners and the founders of Snapdeal, Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal.
YourStory spoke to Varun and Abhiraj to know more about the six months of UrbanClap and the segment they operate in.
What is UrbanClap?
UrbanClap is a platform to make our urban lives more fulfilling to solve our needs in a clap. Hence the name, UrbanClap.
UrbanClap enables users find any service professional like a plumber, a wedding photographer, a yoga teacher, or an interior designer. They want to be the go-to platform helping customers complete projects that are important to their urban lives – everything from designing their homes to capturing key moments, learning arts, filing taxes, and getting healthier etc.
It was born out of our ambitions to create a large tech business solving a primary customer need in India. We realized local services as an industry is such a central part of our lives but extremely broken. The current solutions haven’t improved beyond phone call lists in the last decade while other adjacent industries are leapfrogging with tech enabled innovation.
UrbanClap claims to connect their users to the best professional who can do exactly what they want at a price they are comfortable paying.
Team and hiring
The 25-member strong team of UrbanClap has been doubling every month now. Team members vary from experienced personnel with expertise in consulting, customer relations, operations to fresh IIT and DU graduates across the four key functions — technology, business development, marketing, and operations.
Making business sense
Abhiraj and Varun believe that number of service providers is not the right metric in their business. The company claims to have 1000+ highly engaged service providers on the platform through whom they are connected to multiple 1000 professionals. They have more than 10,000 customers on their platform every month and have already made connections for more than five crores in business value.
Abhiraj accepted that they are not looking at revenues and the sole focus of the company is on creating value for our professionals and customers at the moment. He says,
The business model is to charge professionals for the business UrbanClap would generate for them but in a very unique model tightly linked to the performance of the platform.
Funding and scaling up
Operational in Delhi-NCR, UrbanClap plans to invest the funds in strengthening its technology and team while scale the platform to more service categories and cities.
SubrataMitra, Partner of Accel India, said,
Being early investors in product e-commerce in India, we believe in the power of a marketplace for services. Meeting the UrbanClap team, we realized how the problem of local services is elegantly solved with smartphone based reverse auction/booking solution as opposed to a classifieds list. The level of engagement of providers is very high, which is a key ingredient to the success of any marketplace.
Market and the competition
Local services in a large economy like India makes the market size of $50B+ which is growing fast.
Other startups operating in the same segment are Doormint, TimeSaverz, Mr. Right, Taskbob and Zepper. Listing portals such as JustDial, Sulekha, YellowPages, Near.in; and providers such as Jack on Block, Hammer and Mop also operate in the same segment indirectly. While Timesaverz had raised angel investment in Oct 2014, Taskbob grabbed $1.2 million funding from Orios, Mayfield and others recently.
Abhiraj believes that they have a huge edge both in terms of the team, deep understanding of the space and the investors.
According to the two co-founders, understanding and building the right product for both the customers and the professionals has been a big complex challenge. They have been building this business out of deep empathy for their users and hence have been able to make good headway on the product journey by working closely with their users. UrbanClap team has spent a lot of time understanding how their customers use UrbanClap – at their homes, offices, cafes and elsewhere.