The proliferation of nuclear families, and higher income has led to a surge in demand for trained domestic help. MyChores is tapping technology to connect employers and workers to resolve this problem.
At a Glance
Founder: Andrew V
Year it was founded: 2016
Where is it located: Mumbai
The problem it solves: Reliable domestic help
Sector: Service providers
A medical emergency in 2011 forced Andrew V to seek the services of a trustworthy domestic help. But that didn’t happen, and he was forced to take a long leave from TATA Capital, where he worked then. That one incident led him to think deeper and Andrew, who has over 23 years of experience in sales and marketing at companies like Anagram Finance Ltd and TATA Capital Ltd, decided to start up.
MyChores took shape in 2014 to help people get the help they needed at home – be it maids, caretakers, cooks, drivers, or pet custodians. Founded by industry professionals with a combined experience of over 50 years, the online assisted search service helps search, screen, and shortlist the best candidates in any category of domestic help, and quickly.
It also provides help for specific services such as baby care, elderly care, and deep cleaning of homes.
Andrew’s idea was to be “the most dependable platform” for employers and helpers to seek each other out through technology. He, along with co-founding member Vikas Kumar hired tech people to build the backend and technical platform for the venture.
Domestic helps only need to register with MyChores, instead of going door-to-door or checking for vacancies with security guards at apartments. Domestic help registered with MyChores are paid between Rs 6,000 and Rs 15,000.
MyChores targets double-income nuclear families and households. Its USP includes a strict screening process and the speed with which it sources help. The startup has its own worker database, and does not depend on other local agencies.
However, the most challenging task, Andrew says, was getting workers on board. “It was not easy to source workers, but over the years we tried a host of ways, including outreach programmes through NGOs, print ads, SMS blasts, referrals etc. Today we know what works in which area to source workers - that’s our secret sauce. We currently have over 50,000 maids registered with us across Mumbai, Thane, and Navi Mumbai,” Andrew says.
MyChores, which started operations in Mumbai with a two-member team, has now grown to a 25-member team spread over sales, IT, and operations.
MyChores receives customer inquiries online. Its system screens requirements and puts out a job opening for relevant candidates in the area. The placement team follows up and connects with relevant candidates. They further re-screen candidates who respond and match them with client requirements. A phone interview is followed by a personal interview with the client.
“The best part is that all this happens within two days. The worker gets placed within one to two days of a customer registering his or her requirement,” Andrew says.
A token advance of Rs 1,000 needs to be paid for registration, after which the selected help has a two-day trial period to gauge customer fit. At the end of the trial period, the customer pays a one-time placement fee of Rs 500 to Rs 15,000 depending on the category of help hired.
The services provided include police verification and a replacement in case the help chooses not to continue.
Since the helpers work in households and not in establishments, labour laws are not applicable. Though two days of leave every month and an annual leave of 7-10 days during festivals is discussed informally, it is not enforced; leaves can be modified, according to households and helpers.
MyChores acquired initial customers through geography-specific marketing activities. It opted for newspaper inserts, direct mailers, and small marketing activities before moving to digital marketing.
It seems to have worked for the startup, which now claims a client list of more than 5,000 people, including quite a few celebrities. Their clients include Schauna Chauhan, CEO, Parle International; and sport shooter Heena Sidhu, among others.
“The traction we get in a day now is what we used to get in a month during our initial days. Revenue growth has been fantastic and we are growing at over 300 percent year-on-year,” Andrew says.
MyChores was bootstrapped with a capital of Rs 1 crore, and later raised Rs 60 lakh from an individual investor in June 2017. As of March 2018, it reported total sales of over Rs 60 lakh with a profit of Rs 5 lakh. With monthly revenue of Rs 7 lakh currently, MyChores is targeting revenue of Rs 1.5 crore in the current financial year and a profit of Rs 20 lakh.
The startup is also in talks with a few angel/individual investors to raise Rs 5 crore to strengthen its worker outreach programmes, and expand to other metros. By 2022, MyChores has plans of going for an IPO.
Andrew says there are about 150 million semi-skilled and unskilled workers in India, of which 20 million are domestic help.
Every urban family now depends on their domestic help to keep their homes running. Author Tripti Lahiri, quoting census data in her book Maid in India, writes that the decade after liberalisation saw a whopping 120 percent rise in the number of domestic workers in India - from 740,000 in 1991 to 16.2 lakh workers by 2001. Delhi Labour Organisation data reveals there are over 5 crore domestic workers in India, most of them women.
“The biggest challenge in this emerging and developing market is to reach and mobilise workers as most of them don’t use online tools. It will take some more time for them to get used to the idea of reaching out to a platform to find jobs. Once they get used to the idea, it will snowball and we will see the hockey stick adaptation that we envision,” Andrew explains.
In recent times, home service apps are trying to change the domestic help market. Other players include MyDidi, BookMyBai, MrRight, and Helper4u, which aim to professionalise domestic services.
While there are plenty of startups aiming to end the long-drawn-out search for well-trained and professional help, demand continues to grow. And MyChores is aiming to serve that demand across India.