Is it the age of hyperlocal startups? In a country like India, one would think so. The retail market here is fairly fragmented and unorganised. While the e-commerce segment has ensured visibility and connectivity, hyperlocal platforms like wWhere, Andnrby, HereNow, Qyk, UrbanClap and HouseJoy focus more on age-old and traditional retailers, house helpers and recreational classes.
Entering this fray is SearchAround, a hyperlocal startup based out of Jaipur, Rajasthan. According to Aditya Kumar, Co-founder, they started out to solve a problem everyone faces - finding places and services in one's locality. "In order to connect people with places and services, we decided to start SearchAround," says Aditya.
Team and development
The team consists of students from engineering colleges: Aditya Kumar, Ronak Mathur and Kapil Yadav of JECRC College of Engineering, Jaipur and Shubhang Sharma from Sinhgad College, Pune. Shubham Jaiswal, Hemraj, and Dinesh, alumni of MNIT Jaipur, and Tarun Kedia from NIT Jamshedpur, are also a part of the core team.
From the day of its inception until now, the team has faced several ups and downs. Aditya says that, in their initial days, the core team would go out on the streets, collecting data from individual shop owners, clicking photos, and personally convincing vendors to be a part of the platform.
"If our days were spent on the road, evenings and nights would be spent verifying and cross-checking the data we’d collected, and adding the perfect map location to each store. Convincing the owners to source services with discounts was also a complex task for our team," adds Aditya.
Operational for over three months now, the website has had over 300 visitors and over 100 registered users. Users fall under two categories, the free membership scheme and the premium membership. Under free membership, SearchAround provides information listings, while premium membership targets specific areas. "SearchAround also provides discounts to customers on certain services," says Aditya.
Thus, he adds, with SearchAround, apart from simply receiving information on the different services you wish to avail of, you also get information on prices and discount offerings. Apart from this, the team is also focused on core values like customer satisfaction, ethics, trust and honesty.
The team isn't specifically targeting any demographic. People from every age group will benefit from SearchAround. Aditya believes that the Internet revolution has been a big contributing factor to the growth and development of SearchAround.
The hyperlocal market
Currently, after China and the US, India is the third largest country in terms of the number of internet users. It has also been reported that India will overtake the US by the end of 2015. The unprecedented growth in the number of internet users has created many opportunities for the digitization of the country.
Today, the several hyperlocal platforms around help even regular mom-and-pop stores are a part of the digital growth of the country. The market size for the retail segment is poised to reach USD one trillion by 2020, and reports suggest that close to 98 per cent of the Indian retail segment is dominated by traditional players.
SearchAround is currently operational in Jaipur. The team will soon be targeting metros, Tier II and Tier III cities. In the first phase of their expansion, the team is looking at Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune, Aurangabad, Bengaluru, Varanasi, Patna, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, and Ahmedabad.
Run by students, SearchAround currently is bootstrapped and the team is looking for investment.