Thirty two-year-old Krishna Kumar has just moved into the city. He needs to pick out some new furniture for his home, and being the father of a toddler, he also needs to make sure that the place is baby-proofed.
While we live in world of e-commerce, where buying furniture is no longer the hassle that it used to be, getting furniture that fits your requirements and the needs of your house is always a challenge. This was one of the challenges that husband and wife duo Davy Mohan and Roshini Davy faced.
That was when they decided to build the platform Zuriel Homes, an online destination where you can not only buy your home requirements, but also get them installed. The idea of the platform is that you can buy anything you need for your house, be it baby care or home improvement products, and get the same installed at your convenience. The team also offers house maintenance services.
Being the parents of two toddlers, the couple had difficulty finding a platform that not only worked towards delivering furniture, but also installing it in the right way. Davy comes from a construction background, and owns a construction company as well. He felt that there needed to be a solution that helped them.
“When we went into the market to see what was available, in terms of baby-proofing gates, we didn’t find anything in India. We had to get our family and relatives to pick up the required articles from abroad. And the installation of these needed technical knowledge,” says Davy.
Intent on filling this gap in the market, the couple launched Zuriel Homes in October 2015. Starting out with a successful pilot run on baby-proofing, the duo decided to expand their services. As Davy already had a set of technicians and home service experts onboard thanks to his construction business, he decided to delve even into household services.
For the first three months, they saw that the order base was decent and also started receiving corporate orders; but in January this year, they decided to add in more smart products for a house. Davy says:
“We are looking at smart products like the automatic vacuum cleaner, which cleans your house with the click of a button, and also at products that aren’t available anywhere else. The idea is that when you buy a fan, we send in a technician who helps install the fan for you.”
Working along e-commerce and services
After doing a little research, Davy realised that there need to be products that suit the Indian environment. Based on this, they went looking for dealers and distributors from across the globe that could provide them with the requisite products.
Now, the team has also directly tied up with the companies that manufacture the products, entering into partnerships with the likes of Bosch. Zuriel Homes works as a dealer with the companies. Explaining the differentiation from other marketplaces, Davy says:
“We have to be competitive with other marketplaces. Our advantage is that even if we sell a car wash from Bosch, our team of experts come in explain and demo how the product is used, install it for you and even come back for queries. Our technicians help you with the entire process.”
What happens here is that not only does the customer see how the product works and functions, but he/she also understands how to install it. Davy adds that this way, product return rates reduce dramatically. He explains that normally, people return a product when they can’t figure it out, and very often, after they’ve damaged it trying. With this procedure, such error is completely removed.
For the household services side of the business, the team has tied up with builders, to whom they supply grey collar workers like electricians, plumbers, painters and carpenters.
Bringing the differentiator
One of the biggest challenges the team faced was creating awareness. Most people are happy walking to a nearby electrician and buying a fan and getting him to install it. Getting them to change their behaviour has been a task.
Also, in several product cases like baby-proofing, there is a lack of awareness among consumers with regards to the kind of products available; baby gates for kitchens, edge rolls, wifi cameras for working parents - the list is simply endless.
“One key selling point for us is that since we are installing the products, it becomes very easy for us to customise them according to the needs of every consumer and household. For example, if the baby gate doesn’t fit, we can get the measurements taken and customise it according to the house requirements,” says Roshini.
The team begins with a recce, based on which they formulate a list of requirements and customised solutions for the customer. After that, the delivery and installation take place. The team also gives a six month replacement guarantee. “The product, however, shouldn’t be damaged,” says Davy.
Revenue and market
Zuriel Homes is bootstrapped, with a team size of 20. The company operates through a website and an app, seeing 80 percent of their traffic via the app. Currently, the platform is only available for android, but the team intends to bring out an App Store version soon.
On the product side, the team works on a product dealership MRP basis. The customer buys a product online, with the delivery and installation being free. And on the services side of things, it works on an hourly basis.
The hourly charge is Rs 249 plus tax. For inception and recce, the cost is Rs 99 plus tax. However, for day jobs, the charges vary and could be around Rs 1,000. As of June this year, the team saw about six bookings every day, with an average order size of Rs 7,000.
The world of home services is fast growing and exploding. Two big players in the space are HouseJoy and UrbanClap. The former has Amazon’s backing, while UrbanClap has recently tied up with Snapdeal to cross-promote its offering on Snapdeal’s app.
The online local services industry has seen hyper-expansion, and has an estimated market size of about $50 billion. UrbanClap, which recently raised $25 million in Series B funding from Bessemer, SAIF, and Accel Partners and also got the backing of Ratan Tata, is HouseJoy’s most prominent competitor.
Apart from the big names, there are also players like Wassup making inroads in the industry. Another notable player in the space, Doormint, recently shut down their operations.
Despite the competition in the field, Davy believes that Zuriel Homes has an advantage on its side. He points out that most other players are service aggregators, and control is difficult there. However, since with Zuriel Homes, the technicians are employees, there is much better control on quality and behaviour.