The skilled human services space is a highly individualized and unregulated one. This is mainly because of the nature of work; being in someone else’s personal space makes regulation difficult. Mornings in an average urban household in India invariably begin with discussions about maid servants, cooks, and drivers.
began Sumit Arora, one of the founders of Easemylife. In most cases, the discussions are about uninformed absenteeism, and in some cases about negotiation over wages. On average a maid takes two to four days of leave a month without informing her employer. The scenario is similar for other skilled human services, such as drivers and cooks, that cater to daily household needs. Easemylife aims to solve this pain point and provide an alternative in such cases through a C2C crowdsourced model.
What is it?
Easemylife is positioning itself as everyone’s private concierge desk. Through a mobile app, they connect customers with professionals and skilled personnel across the city, using GPS. Their focus is on offering need-based services that are required on a recurring basis by middle class households.
Users select the service they need, pick the date and time, check out rates and make payments using their credit cards, debit cards, net banking or other wallet services. The crowdsourcing angle works on a ‘customer serves customer’ model; Easemylife acts as an intermediary in connecting both parties to each other.
Upon acceptance, exchange of contact details takes place between both the parties. Upon acknowledgement of service completion by both parties, the payment is made to the professional’s bank account. After the service is complete, users must rate the serviceman to complete the loop.
Many of the professionals associated with Easemylife are freelancers looking to work with flexible timings or during holidays and earn extra income. Many also work full time by accepting bookings through the app, and thereby earn their livelihood this way. They currently offer the services of day maids, drivers, electricians and plumbers, charged for per visit or per hour.
Ease My Life was officially started in April 2014 by Sumit Arora, Maninder Pasricha, Amit Bhardwaj and Ujjwal Pawra. The founders had met each other through professional networking at different points in their careers and stayed connected thereon. It was in 2013 that they all got together and started working on the concept of Easemylife. Coming from middle class backgrounds, and thus having seen similar situations at home, they all agreed on the concept. However they took one year to make a case study basis, which they did through surveys that they conducted in Mumbai and Delhi.
In 2014 they started operations and completed more than 1000 bookings through their website and helpdesk. Then in 2015, they decided to take the ‘mobile only’ route, albeit with a crowd sourcing spin. They released their Android version in April 2015, and are currently focussing on Mumbai.
Sumit is a commerce graduate from Delhi University, and has worked in management roles at peppercloset.com and freecharge.com, over the last 14 years. He currently heads product development and market research at EasemyLife. Maninder is a science graduate from Khalsa College, Mumbai and has worked in companies like Castrol, Gillete, Sify, and freecharge.com over the last 20 years. He is currently an investor and strategist at Easemylife.
Amit is the technology lead at EasemyLife, and has previously worked at Infosys and with clients such as Boeing and Verizon. He was also involved in developing the Indian Railways’ SMS-based ticket booking system, and is actively associated with the bitcoin community in India. Ujjwal is a legal professional with more than 7 years’ experience in finance and indirect taxes. He has catered to clients both from the services and trading industry and has worked for IBA and KPMG in the past. In his current role, he oversees the entire legal, finance and taxation division at Easemylife.
Traction and growth
They currently have close to 4000 downloads on Android, and are doing about 15 bookings a day for their most in-demand maid service, They currently cater to the entire regions of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane.
They estimate that a single customer transacts two to four times a month, either when their regular maid or driver is absent from work, or when they have guests coming over and need extra help. Then there are other human services such as electricians, plumbers, masons, carpenters, babysitters etc which people look out for, but not as frequently.
They have been operational in Mumbai for a year now and have about 60 housing societies from where active members use their services. They reached out to customers offline through local events in these societies, regional patrikas, and also digital mediums and affiliate channels, to reach out to more consumers.
They consider their model beneficial for both parties involved. Customers get access to multiple services under one umbrella and have more clarity about prices, with fixed rates.Professionals get convenience of training, flexible work timings, income and social protection. Sumit added:
They are generally less educated and insecure about their daily bread and butter. Approximately 40% of them have basic Android phones, but most of them use it just for calling. We hold soft skill and mobile phone training classes twice a week in our office wherein all professionals are invited to attend.
Business model and competition
Easymylife charges a commission from the professional for each transaction on the platform which ranges between 15 - 25% depending on the service. Their average ticket size is about Rs 400. They estimate that in a market such as Mumbai, which has 15 lakh middle class households who require these services twice times a month, a realistic 5% market share would mean 5000 transactions per day from Mumbai alone.
Over the last quarter, India has seen growth in the on-demand services sector. There are players like Local Oye, UrbanClap, Doormint, TimeSaverz, housejoy, Mr. Right and Zepper offering on-demand service professionals for different needs. Another player in this field is Bookmybai, which focusses on maid hiring services in India. On the global front Amazon, Thumbtack, Red Beacon, Task Rabbit Handy are in the same segment of on demand professional services.
Sumit added “ The revenue models maybe the same but the approach and business model we have taken is different. I see most players adopting the marketplace model, and that is something that we have not looked at. We are more focused on the crowdsourcing angle, i.e., creating a C2C model and acting as an intermediary.”
Another difference is that Easemylife is not looking at big ticket solutions, such as water tank cleaning, house cleaning, appliance repair etc., as they feel that they are not recurring enough. He added:
We are only looking at skilled human services on hourly or fixed visit rates which are smaller in ticket size but recurring in nature. There are about 22 such services and our current objective is to open them up for the consumers.
Challenges faced and future plans
They found that about 95% of the professionals could read regional languages, 80% could read Hindi and 15% could read English. To cater to this need, their professional-facing app is now available in Hindi, English and Marathi.
Every professional that signs up with them has to go through a police verification. They found that the process is generally tedious and cumbersome, and most professionals are not confident of going through with it. So Easemylife has signed up with an agency to carry out this activity on behalf of the professionals. They also bear the costs of this compliance. So far they have provided income for more than 75 unemployed people in the past few months.
Easemylife is currently self-funded, and is in the process of raising seed capital through a group of angel investors. They also plan to launch their iOS app in a month. They are looking at getting a firm foothold in Mumbai, and opening up more services one by one. By end of Q3, they plan to open up four more services and scale to 400 bookings per day.