The company, currently bootstrapped, is a utility network/aggregator of lawyers and doctors. Through the website, users can stay connected with the partnered lawyers and doctors of their choice, anywhere and anytime.
At a Glance
Founder: Chander Verma
Year it was founded: 2016
Where it is based: Gurugram
Sector: Consultant network/aggregator
The problem it solves: It is an aggregator of lawyers and doctors for instant query and help
Funding raised: Bootstrapped
Running Phoenix Mail Services, a logistics company, was not an easy task for Chander Verma. He was dealing with a lot of legal problems when it came to delivery across India. Realising that there was no proper platform to find solutions for his legal issues, he ended up banking on Google for answers.
Chander says, “It was really time consuming as I had to skim through a lot of information, and there was no authenticity and guarantee of the information provided online. Most of the platforms available were mere mediators and were charging anywhere between Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000 for a half-hour consultation.”
The experience was appalling and he felt that there was no means to validate the consultation that one receives. After spending a lot of money and not receiving proper help, he decided to try to find a solution on his own.
“I researched a lot and found that this is a serious problem. I met a few lawyers and came to the conclusion that they usually got clients through referrals. It was highly unorganised from both sides,” says Chander.
This was the eureka moment which made him start plunes.com, a utility network/aggregator of lawyers and doctors. The website helps users stay connected with partnered lawyers and doctors of their choice, anywhere, anytime.
Today, the company has over 42,000 users finding solutions to their legal problems such as domestic violence, neighbourhood issuses, harassment by landlord, parking problems, tenant nuisance, eve teasing, sexual harassment, police harassment, online frauds, business problems, and traffic challans, to name a few.
“The best part is people are finding solutions for their concerns, which otherwise might not have been reported. We found the same problem with doctors as well, and launched the platform for them in July 2017,” says Chander.
The company claims to not only provide consultation, but also ensure problems are actually solved. It has developed a technology which determines “Our Service-level agreement (SLA) is maintained, which means within eight hours, your concerns are addressed. While eight hours is the maximum time taken, it is usually solved in two hours.”
Lawyers and doctors receive content of their respective expertise on their social media walls - a business lawyer will receive business law-related queries answered by another business lawyer only (they can also provide a solution to the query or if he is less experienced can learn from him), and they can enhance their skills.
Law and medical students can also have real-time experience of solving client queries from experienced professionals by receiving live updates of problems solved on their walls.
Chander is an engineer, and a serial entrepreneur, who previously founded Phoenix Marketing Solutions in December 2012, Eminence Hydel Private Ltd. in 2014, and Phoenix Mail Services in 2015.
Talking about challenges faced, Chander says, “It was to make people aware about the utility network and the benefit of having their own lawyer and doctor with them all the time. We tried digital marketing but with little result. So it was evident that we had to innovate our way to grow quickly. We started a campus ambassador programme, where we helped students enhance their skills and in turn, they represent our company, and earn and learn while still in college. As of now, we have more than 1,400 campus ambassadors across India.”
Currently, the company has a team of nine. The users can share their concerns for free with the professionals, but if one wants to hire the services instantly, there is an ‘On Demand Service’ facility starting from Rs 500 and Plunes charges a commission of 20 percent.
The company claims to have 44,000 users, and 57 categories of doctors and lawyers. “We have seen good growth and the highest was 216 percent in January 2018, and 40 percent subsequently.”
The company has raised a small amount of funding from friends and family.
The professional services market in India is growing rapidly, according to the recently-published report Professional Services Market Global Report 2017, by The Business Research Company.
The market is predicted to register a 5.4 percent growth from 2016 to 2020, reaching almost $5 trillion.
Other startups in the legal and medical areas providing online services in India are Lawyered, VakilSearch, DocsApp, Practo, and Lybrate among many others.
“We provide solutions and not just consultation. Consultations are opinions and paying thousands of rupees for opinions is not justified; we want to ensure solutions. For example, when a professional provides a solution on a query, we generate it as a post and share it with every other professional of the same category and they can subject it to challenge, and the person is ensured that he receives the best answer. We encourage everyone to have their own lawyer and doctor and stay connected with them. Our productive engagement endeavour is obviously different, as no other platform is offering this,” says Chander.
In the future, plunes.com wants to launch services for other professionals such as chartered accountants, fitness professionals, counsellors, and veterinarians among others.