With hyper-local services being the flavour of the start-up ecosystem, every other entrepreneur is toying with the idea of solving local problems. These problems can range from finding a plumber for your leaky faucet to a party planner for the spectacular birthday bash you have always wanted, and each service can be acquired by simply accessing a mobile app! While there are players such as LocalOye and UrbanClap who provide a vast range of services across multiple cities, there are some like Handyhome.in and Taskbob, which are focusing on specific services in one city.
Mumbai-based Taskbob, founded by IIT Bombay graduates in December 2014, is a one-stop solution for on-demand home services such as plumbing, carpentry, electrical, home appliance repair, and cleaning your house and car. Its aim is to simplify the process right from finding a reliable serviceman to ensuring service is completed satisfactorily and on time. The company focuses on quality rather than quantity, say its founders.
Founder and CEO Aseem Khare believes that the company takes end-to-end responsibility to provide quality services, which is what people in India are looking forward to. “Unlike our other competitors, we do take that and make sure that all our customers end up happy after each service. We only select the top 10-20 per cent servicemen we interview and thus we have, by far, the most well-qualified servicemen.”
The start-up, which has raised a seed round of $1.2 million from Orios Venture Partners and Mayfield, is investing heavily in training servicemen, which it claims none of its competitors do. It also provides an in-house “merchant app” to make the service assignment and competition amongst servicemen operationally efficient, quicker and seamless.
The company has a dedicated supply pool of 300 servicemen, which includes electricians, carpenters, plumbers, servicemen for home deep cleaning, car cleaning and drivers, and is the largest across all competitors. It has in reserve 300 more servicemen to cater to its customer base that is set to grow owing to its expansion within Mumbai as of now.
Taskbob is Khare’s second venture as an entrepreneur and it was born while he was building his earlier start-up, Shaukk.com, that connected like-minded people to follow their passion. During that time, he realised that people living in bigger cities have one major problem in common and that was handymen services. Day in and out, they struggled to find people who can come and fix their water-taps, repair their ACs or get their cars cleaned. And while they looked for these services, they wanted the job done in time, done well and at an affordable and standardised price.
At Taskbob, the servicemen have to go through a stringent process of hiring that includes short listing based on experience and expertise, personal interviews, technical and soft skill tests and background checks. The selected candidates then go through training programmes that include skill development, briefing about the company, roles and responsibilities.
Khare says that on an average Taskbob gets 500 users daily on its app and these numbers are increasing every day from Powai, Chandivali, Vikhroli, Ghatkopar, Kanjurmarg and Marol areas of Mumbai. It plans to expand to other parts of the city by the year-end. People mostly search for drivers, cleaning and electrician services. Users of the app increased by 50 per cent during the monsoons where it got queries ranging from short circuits, water logging and choked bathroom to driver services during the rains.
The total employee strength is about 40 people, with a core team of 20. The company is on the look out for tech-talent to solve some major challenges. “The biggest challenge we faced initially was to identify and on-board qualified technicians and servicemen. We then developed an in-house screening and training team. The technicians are now thoroughly evaluated on their ability through Taskbob’s in-house developed technical testing protocols,” says Khare.
The second major problem Taskbob faced is that there is yet no transparency of pricing for the services in this sector. Most technicians and serviceman charged depending on the spending capacity of the customer. “We wanted to change this completely. We wanted to professionalise these services as well as standardise the pricing. We undertook extensive market research to arrive at a standard cost for each of the services listed on our app. Customer satisfaction, right pricing and on-time quality service has been our primary focus. We aim to provide high quality services that speak for itself. We always welcome suggestions and feedback from all our customers and offer 100 per cent cash back in case a customer is not happy with our services.” Khare said.
According to industry experts, the home services market is highly fragmented and disorganised in India. Given the current lifestyles of consumers across metro cities, with hectic schedules and long working hours, there is hardly any time for such a consumer to get any kind of service or small household task done. With more and more nuclear families and singles in these cities, quick service delivery and safety are becoming more crucial. Finding a reliable serviceman or technician to come at a short notice without overcharging is a huge challenge for the consumer. Transparency in pricing and service quality is yet another important aspect. In the coming days, right pricing, quick and quality service delivery, professionalising services and well-trained servicemen will be the key drivers to on-demand home services sector in the country.
Khare says that the home-service industry is here to stay. Consumers’ expectations have amplified. With this growing demand from consumers, local service providers have started migrating from local to hyper-local delivery models. Organisations have understood market needs and have started patronising retailers and e-commerce companies to offer last mile connectivity to consumers. The future of home services start-ups seems promising. One can see this from the increasing number of start-ups in the home-services category itself. Soon, you’re being served…at home, will ring true.