It's the world of on-demand services. Gone are the days when you've had to rely on hearsay and unreliable sources. Startups like Doormint, Housejoy, UrbanClap, Qyk, and several others are working to bridge the demand-supply gap in the segment of house services.
Joining this slew of startups is Fixmasters, an on-demand repair and maintenance service that helps users get verified and qualified service providers for repair tasks at home and office. The team says that they've built a strong network of service providers who are verified, and tested for their quality of work and reliability, thus ensuring a truly one-click experience.
When a customer requests a service via the mobile app, website or phone, an appropriate service provider is allocated to the request within minutes, and the task is completed within the stipulated time. Customers pay Fixmasters based on the quoted price and the company passes on 80 per cent of the revenue per fix to the service provider while retaining 20 per cent for itself.
Viksit Arora dropped out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and teamed up with Bhushan Lodha who had graduated from Hacker School in New York to work on a classifieds platform. Initially, the duo focussed on a college classifieds idea based on their individual experiences. However, within three months of making the idea work, they realised that the market size was just not large enough and decided to shut it down.
That’s when Vaibhav Domkundwar, who had registered Fixmasters almost two years ago, got together with Viksit and Bhushan and brainstormed the idea of building a repair and maintenance service company. Vaibhav had noticed how broken the industry was in India, compared to the US, where he had spent 16 years after schooling at University of California, Berkeley.
"We collectively researched the space for 45 days including interviewing customers, service providers, hardware stores and many others in the ecosystem and this time were convinced about how big the opportunity was," says Viksit.
He adds that they were clear on not wanting to build a company that just connects demand and supply but one that actually solves the problem and delivers a reliable one-stop experience.
They hit the ground running themselves and soon added an operations team of two full-time and two part-time people based on references from friends. This was crucial for them so that they could ensure they were handling all inbound requests with urgency and creating a seamless experience.
"We kicked off operations by buying our phone number 70300 70400. We believed a good number was critical and that a lot of initial customers would want to talk to us. We hit the ground by choosing an area in West Pune. Our first week was 13 fixes delivered with four service providers," adds Viksit.
Fixmasters is currently available in Pune and has serviced over 5,000 households in five months since its launch. The team claims that it is seeing the same momentum continuing and has creatively experimented with its marketing to acquire customers for various different types of repairs.
The challenges the team faced included finding high-quality service providers, keeping demand and supply more or less matched with growth, hiring smart people to believe in their vision, building an early team and optimising customer acquisition channels.
The primary difference that sets Fixmasters apart from competitors is its focus on being a full-stack repairs and maintenance company. Viksit says there are players in this space who merely connect service providers and customers, and have low closure rate as its nothing more than an incremental experience over JustDial which is broken for this space.
He adds that repairs is a high engagement challenge and merely connecting demand and supply doesn’t create value for either side. Fixmasters fundamentally differs from this approach as it owns the full experience from request to completion of the repair/fix. "If something goes wrong, we ensure it's corrected and customers get what they want," adds Viksit.
Fixmasters has raised a pre-seed financing from Vaibhav's company Better, Inc. Now, it is looking to raise a pre-Series A round.
"We look at the business in stages and for now, our plan is to take the playbook we have created in the last three months and apply it to cover all of Pune and get to 25,000 customers. At that stage, our next set of plans will roll out but a lot of that will be defined by what we learn in the process. Our overall vision is to make repairs and maintenance truly effortless and cost effective for everyone," says Viksit.
From grocery and handyman services to salons, everything in metros is now accessible on-the-go and is available on demand. Close to 117 on-demand companies are believed to have been funded in 2013.
Over the past year, on-demand services have become a rage in India and beauty space has witnessed the debut of a slew of startups like Vyomo, Stayglad, GetLook, Bulbul and VanityCube among several others.
Interestingly, most of the startups had also raised investment this year. YouWeCan-backed Vyomo recently raised little less than $ two million last week while VanityCube secured about $3,50,000 from unnamed angels.