Bootstrapped enterprise business process automation software startup says it looks at the problem differently
Spoors is a Hyderabad-based blue-collar enterprise workforce management company.
Despite all the technological advancements the country has witnessed, the home services segment (unorganized field services) in India continues to pose a problem. Whether it’s a carpenter or a plumber whose services are needed, you invariably end up spending the whole day ensuring the job gets done. The real challenge lies not in finding someone with the right skill set for the job but in managing the workforce. When Ramakrishna ‘Ram’ Chiniarlapalla returned to India in 2005, he could see a stark contrast between the situation here and how things worked in the US.
Time and some conversations with friends turned an observation into a business idea, and that was how Spoors, a cloud-based solution that helps businesses maximise the productivity of service providers through enterprise workflow and activity management, was born.
“A few times when I asked a plumber to come home for repairs, he would give a time but not come and when we called him he would say he was right around the corner and would be there in a few minutes but never showed up for the day,” says Ram.
Building the company
Ram felt this was a situation that arose irrespective of whether you reached out to an individual worker or someone associated with a company. In fact, in the case of companies, neither they nor the customers had any visibility.
That was when Ram decided to build a monitoring and reporting solution that would enable customers and employers to monitor the progress of service personnel from anywhere, anytime.
Ram roped in Tiru Rao Boka, a former roommate with whom he had first started up in the US. Though the background work on the company began in July 2012, Spoors was formally registered in Hyderabad in 2013. Vijay C joined the leadership as the company’s COO in 2014, while Ramanan Subramani joined as their chief sales and marketing officer (CSMO) by late 2016.
The Hyderabad-headquartered company has satellite presence in all Indian metros (no physical offices). Spoors currently consists of a 50-member workforce, and the team claims its clients include over 120 national and international companies. Spoors has a presence in Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the UAE, South Africa, and Singapore, with clients including Ador Welding, Reliance, Goibibo, Mahindra Finance, and redBus, to name a few.
Yet another service management software startup or something different?
The online home services market isn’t new to India. From 2015 to 2016, a slew of home services startups in Bengaluru and Delhi raised significant funding. In 2015, UrbanClap had claimed to have over 5,000 transactions in a day.
But with time, several of the home services startups heard their death knell. Doormint, which raised $3 million from Helion Ventures and Kalaari Capital in August 2015, pivoted to a laundry-only service last year. Facing problems, it was later acquired by Wassup. Orobind was acquired by Amazon-backed Housejoy.
Housejoy has raised $27 million in funding since its inception in 2014 and UrbanClap has raised $57.6 million within the same time period. Apart from them, the other players include Quikr, which has already gobbled up several smaller startups, and JustDial.
A Google and KPMG report suggests this segment contributes to a meagre two percent of the Rs 2,900 crore digital classifieds market. And the segment is also looking at a CAGR of close to 22 percent in the next three years.
While Ram agrees that they are not solving a new problem, he believes Spoors’ differentiator lies in its perspective. He explains,
“We felt all the field challenges were similar with some variations in attributes. So we ended up building a platform that can work for any vertical with field operations that can reap the benefits of real-time visibility to employees and the data they accrue from the field. Added to that, we wanted the platform to be quickly configurable. Hence we devised the solution called Enterprise DIY which empowers process owners to quickly configure workflows and deploy it to their mobile workforce in a jiffy.”
Spoors’ single interface helps collect data to be disseminated to multiple solutions like systems, applications, products (SAP), customer relationship management (CRM), and finance for governance, risk, and compliance (GRC).
The moment a client is onboarded, Effective Field Force Optimisation Reporting Toolkit (EFFORT) individually enables productivity and improvement. It allows for rapid configuration, deployment, reconfiguration, and redeployment of forms and workflows on the fly.
“We call it a kit because it has many nifty features that enable productivity improvement individually the moment a client is onboarded. The solution allows for quick configuration of forms for field personnel to collect and assimilate data. The solution also works in an offline mode (without data connectivity) as field personnel often work in zones where there is no data connectivity,” adds Ram.
The EFFORTPlus application process interface (API) can seamlessly combine and launch within a company’s existing application in the shortest possible time for any number of users.
The customers can choose between a per-employee subscription model and a perpetual licence for a large workforce. According to the website, Spoors has three plans for monthly subscription and three for yearly. The monthly starter pack is priced at Rs 499, with a growth plan for Rs 699, and a premium plan for Rs 1,049 per month per user. The annual starter pack is priced at Rs 399, with a growth plan for Rs 599, and a premium plan for Rs 899.
The product building challenges
Building a product team was the most difficult thing. Since most employees come from a services background it was an uphill task to cultivate the product perspective. Ram adds that the strategy was leaning towards hiring fresh talent and nurturing them instead of lateral hires.
Currently bootstrapped, the team claims to have crossed revenues of $500,000, which they aim to double by the end of this year.
Within a few years of setting up shop in India, Spoors has established its presence in Africa, Singapore, Europe, and the rest of APAC (through MOUs and channel partners). Spoors now plans to expand its client base in these countries and overall, scale it up by 100 percent.
For 2017, Spoors plans to focus on brand building and communication strategies to attract investors and scale its tool, EFFORTPlus, to the next level by building robust intelligence using data from clients. Spoors’ vision is to be a one-stop shop for enterprises aiming to build a futuristic, mobile workforce.