18 Aug 2015 20:18 IST

Services on tap with UrbanClap

(From Left to right) Raghav , Varun and Abhiraj

App-based marketplace offers customers a range of basic and premium services

Most of us are so used to the simplicity and ease of access offered by app-based taxi services, that we often wonder how we managed a commute in the pre-app age.

From books, medicines and clothes, to pricey products such as precious jewellery and furniture, and even groceries and cut vegetables, everything is available through apps at a click of a button, and delivered at your doorstep.

Now there are apps not just for ‘things’, but services too!

Gurgaon-based UrbanClap, launched in 2014, is an app-based mobile marketplace for services. The application helps the user get access to services from trusted and trained professionals. The user can compare the service providers based on reviews and communicate with them via chat.

Range of categories

At present, UrbanClap hosts 60 service categories that cover a gamut of customer needs across personal services, such as home yoga instructors, and doorstep salon services, as well as professional services related to events (such as wedding photographers, party caterers and birthday party planners). UrbanClap will host freelance professions like content writers, programmers, and so on. It already has professionals such as photographers, make-up artists, DJs and French teachers, among others. The platform caters predominantly (over 90 per cent of requests) to white-collar services.

It was founded in 2014 by a trio comprising IIT-Kanpur alumni and former BCG consultants Abhiraj Bhal, also an IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus, and Varun Khaitan, previously with Qualcomm, together with UC Berkeley-educated Raghav Chandra, earlier with Yelp and Twitter.

The idea was to create a large technology-driven business to solve a primary customer need in India: to find and rope in reliable service professionals, says co-founder Khaitan. It also aims to provide the professionals a platform to grow their service or business in a sustained fashion, he adds.

“We realised how fragmented the local services industry in the country was and the potential it holds, given the high demand.”

Customer base

UrbanClap's business model charges the professionals listed with them a commission every time the latter get business using the app. While other industries were leapfrogging with tech-enabled innovations, this was one gaping hole waiting to be filled, Khaitan says.

“There are quite a few players in this space; we have an edge in terms of our product depth and technology used, our team, and a healthy and steady supply of professionals,” he says.

“When we started, we used to serve 500 customers per day; it has now grown to 2,500 a day. Around the same time, the number of professionals linked to us too has grown five times, from 1,000 previously,” Khaitan adds.

According to Khaitan, the reason for UrbanClap’s growth is that the venture has spent a great deal of time ascertaining how their customers use the platform, the pain-points experienced by them, and feedback from users and the service professionals.

Expansion plans

Having set up shop in Tier I cities such as New Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru and, more recently, Chennai, UrbanClap aims to tap into small towns. It also plans to expand its team.

“We currently have a 150-strong team across tech, product, marketing, business development and customer experience. We plan to be a 500-member team over the next 2-3 months,” says Khaitan, adding that they are looking for smart, “passionate folks” with a background in technology/ business development/ marketing.

Funding

The venture has secured close to $12 million over two rounds of funding. First, from SAIF Partners, and, more recently, from Accel Partners and Snapdeal co-founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal.

“The investment will primarily be used in developing a robust tech infrastructure and product, building a strong team and expanding our operations in multiple cities,” says Khaitan.

On India’s start-up culture, he says: “India is the new land of opportunity, and is ripe to incubate and produce great companies. The ecosystem is evolving. With the growth of start-ups and the funding on offer, it is the ideal place to be.”

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