When Vijayramkumar Veeraraghavan wanted to set up an on-demand services marketplace, he wanted to avoid aping the model followed in the West. The Founder and CEO of Helpr explains: “We realised that all other players in India were trying to duplicate the marketplace model from the West but well-trained, professional, and trustworthy labour for household services is rare in India.” He then created Helpr, which is a platform aimed at providing hassle free, on-demand household services through in-house professionals.
Genesis of the idea
Since 2012, Vijayramkumar, Vignesh, and Rajesh were looking to start something in this space. Not only did they realise professionalism in this segment was as good as non-existent, but there also was no accountability. Rightly so, as technologists alone cannot own up the entire life cycle of the on-demand services problem.
"There was clearly no dearth of demand but quality supply was lacking. So we were looking at partners to solve the supply side issue before we even started building the technology component," adds Vijayramkumar.
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Teaming up with Avon
The team decided to partner with Avon Facility Management Services on the supply side. A player in the B2B segment, Avon gives Helpr presence in 23 cities and access to over 22,000 trained and police-verified professionals across verticals.
It was only after 2013 that the trio looked at the idea behind Helpr more seriously. "We started this as a venture to solve the household service problems and provide the best of experience both on the product and the service. We feel proud to bring back dignity to the blue collared workforce," adds Vijayramkumar.
In addition to cash incentives for every good service, the team is also starting a monthly town hall where the best of the service providers will be awarded as the - 'Helpr of the Month.' Over a month of closed beta, the team provided over 100 jobs, and since its launch it has provided over 90 jobs. It intends on hitting a run rate of over 50 jobs per day in a month.
Speaking of how Helpr is different from players like HouseJoy, Vijayramkumar says that almost every player in this sector is facing the challenge of scaling up the supply. "We believe we have solved this challenge by partnering with Avon. It helps us focus on building our network and also lets us own the customer life cycle,” he says.
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Traction and future plans
Helpr recently introduced card payment and all its providers carry a card reader. This is first in the market and difficult to duplicate by its competitors, says Vijayramkumar, as their supply is usually long-tail individuals. The company is present in Bengaluru and in two months the team intends to expand operations to Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Mumbai. By the end of 2016, the team intends to be live and fully operational in 23 cities across India.
The on-demand phenomenon is catching on in India with various startups evangelising different niche services in the hyperlocal space. Right from grocery and handyman services to salons, everything in metros is now accessible on-the-go.
Ronnie Screwvala, partner at Unilazer Venture, says, "On-demand home services comprise the new frontier of e-commerce where service is now a product. I believe large companies are going to be created in hyperlocal service segment.” The VC firm recently backed Timesaverz, a Mumbai-based platform for handyman services.
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