Having worked in the technology sector for more than a decade and being an integral member of five tech startups, Kulbir Singh decided that it was high time he started something of his own. The idea came to him while he was getting his own house renovated. “I found that most of the tradesmen who were working were not responsible and failed to finish the job they had committed to. This was happening because they were randomly without any background checks or verification. On the other hand, I also came across very good craftsmen who did wonderful work but didn’t get hired enough because they didn’t have any platform to publicise their skill-levels and track record,” says Kulbir.
To address some of these issues Kuldip and his co-founder Narinder Bansal launched GetFiXR in early 2015. They wanted to tackle this problem by creating a platform for tradesmen to showcase their quality of work and reach the masses via the internet/digital medium. They want to position it to as a godsend for consumers to find qualified tradesmen based on location, skills, rating and requirements.
Kulbir explains, “The GetFiXR platform works though the web or Android app. The consumer can find tradesmen/skilled-workers from five different categories - Carpenter, Plumber, Mason, Painter and Electrician. The app presents the information cards of available tradesmen based on the location of the user; which can be further sorted based on pricing, rating, experience, skills and distance. GetFiXR is neither a business listing service nor a service booking system. We verify the information of the workers by meeting them personally or over the phone, along with some form of ID documentation. Our relationship team makes sure the tradesmen are providing accurate information during the personal meetings.”
Though the idea is hardly original, it has great potential, i.e. if they can solve the pressing initial hurdles. Kulbir says, “The biggest challenge we are facing while working on GetFiXR is the push to educate the consumer that a service like this is available on the internet and is free of cost to use. First, the consumers don’t have the habit of soliciting tradesmen on the internet who are verified and can be trusted. Second, they think that either we will charge a commission or that there will be a signup fee. That’s because that is how it has been till now. All the other current [and old] services available are either just a business listing service like JustDial - which does not hold any accurate or verified data, or simply online contractors like TaskBob - which charges commission from the tradesmen to connect with you for a solution. We, on the other hand, provide a completely free service. The idea is to push the skilled labour market to the digital front and create a platform for users to fulfil their requirements.”
Usually startups focus on conquering Tier II cities after establishing bases in the larger metros. GetFixR is, rather ambitiously, doing the reverse. “We started in Chandigarh and have managed to tap in to the Delhi/NCR market in the past few months only. Our only means of advertising is social media and organic search-engine listings. Our plan is to reach most of the metros by the end of this year – we are setting up offices in Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore. We have not advertised ourselves much at the moment, and are concentrating on building the product. In the coming months, though, we are planning to partner with product/raw material brands and push the service through both offline and online advertising. This will ensure large scale visibility for us,” Kulbir explains.
The GetFixR team is optimistic even though the growth is slow. Kulbir says, “As I stated earlier, people do not expect to find genuine and verified data on individual tradesmen. So the progress has been slow but steady. We have recently launched our service in Delhi/NCR and are planning to move to the metros where there is a large internet-savvy population. We want to become ‘mainstream’ for them. For the moment though the tradesmen listed are receiving around 20-25 calls a day, both in Chandigarh and Delhi.”
Emphasizing on the fact that they are building a community and not a commission charging base, Kulbir discusses contemporary competitors: “As a business, we are quite unique and don’t have much direct competition. Services like JustDial do have some listings like ours but they are not verified. On the other hand, there are some service-booking platforms like TaskBob that provide workers for home based repair and maintenance jobs. However, they are more a service contractor themselves, and either charge a commission from the tradesman or have their own team. We are building a platform that will bring the individual tradesmen to the internet with all of their information verified by us.”
GetFixR is currently bootstrapped. “We are in discussions with multiple PEs and VCs who are interested in our startup,” says Kulbir.
Since they plan to move beyond Chandigarh and have bases across India, Kulbir is excited by what the future heralds for GetFixR. He says, “We want to make profits but our core idea is to make the life of the consumer as easy as possible, while also making sure that deserving tradesmen get all the opportunities that are due to them.”