Bro4u dives into the crowded hyperlocal services sector, aims to grow beyond Bengaluru

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How many times have you been frustrated trying to get hold of a plumber to fix a pipe leak? Once you did find a suitable one, were you flummoxed about what to pay him/her once the job was done? Were there times when you felt that the service was overpriced?

Welcome to the world of unorganized services. A world where the range in price per service defies logic, and quality checks are hard to come by. Bro4u.com aims to inject technology, accessibility and professionalism to the space by creating a curated platform for unorganized services.

Bro4u.com is an e-commerce marketplace for household and professional services in Bengaluru with over 20 categories of services, including handymen (plumbers and electricians), cleaning, electrical, computer and document services.

The beginnings

The founders, Pramod Hegde (26, completed his MBA) and Rajath KR (26, civil engineer) drew inspiration from the Make In India campaign. They experienced multiple challenges when dealing with local service providers. Around the time the Make In India initiative picked up momentum, the founders thought about what they could do to contribute to the country’s progress. Pramod came up with the idea of consolidating services onto a single platform for users across India and quit his corporate job to pursue his dream.

Within 15 days, there were already a few members working out of a 2BHK towards that single goal of building an e-commerce platform for services. Akshay Harish (BCA, with four years of web development experience) became their go-to guy for technology. The team has now grown to 17. In fact, Pramod pitched his idea to potential team members in the park, over the phone, on the road and many other unconventional places.

The team was extremely motivated and worked hard to turn their concept into reality. They are proud to have built an e-commerce market place which can cater to home service needs of the whole of Bengaluru. So far, they have served 2,300 orders successfully and process an average of 30-35 orders per day and they get 35-40 enquiries on a daily basis.

The lack of capital spurred the team to maximize their resources and thoroughly utilize free platforms. They have created short movies, conducted FB group engagements, written on blogs, and continued the traditional approach of giving personal cards. In fact, in the recent TCS Bengaluru marathon, they gave away Bro4u shade caps to every second runner to reach a wider audience. Bro4u also utilized a global platform called ‘Thunderclap’ to invite people to launch the site online. The portal went live on Feb 25th this year helped by more than 500 people globally and reached out to almost three lakh people.

The platform has brought more than 700 vendors on-board and its digital vendor acquisition rate is growing by 10% (month on month).

Challenges

Initial challenges included finding the right vendors and connecting them with clients. The venture had to set up processes for validation and quality checks to monitor the quality of service provided by their vendors. Using online references and referrals from the vendors they met, the team was able to build a credible list. It took close to two months to source good vendors. Bro4u’s team met with a majority of their vendors personally and signed agreements to ensure that their final customers are given high quality services.

Pramod believes that the team at Bro4u is the biggest strength of the venture and each member comes with an entrepreneurial mindset and has been instrumental in distinguishing the startup from others in the space such as Housejoy, Urban Clap, Doormint, Jack on Block, Mr. Right and Zepper. The home services space is seeing quite a boom with 70 of the 150 startups founded in 2014.

The future

Although the venture’s current plan is to build its position in Bengaluru, Bro4u’s long-term vision is to become the single biggest marketplace for services in the next 10 years. They are planning to expand to Mumbai, Hyderabad and Delhi in next six to eight months. They are sector-agnostic and are looking at exploring potential opportunities in digital and creative services, education, health and fitness, legal and contractual services.

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