We live in a world where time is of prime importance. So often we end up putting our important needs and wants on hold because we can’t find enough time from our busy schedules or find the right person to help us do that. As is the case with all the big problems, this one too has a simple and elegant solution that UrbanClap has successfully captured and implemented. It is basically an online directory of service providers who can be booked as per your convenience for over 60 hiring services across 5 major categories – Home, Health, Events, Lessons, and other personal services. It raised $10M in Series A funding in June 2015. We got up close in this interview with the founders of Urban Clap, Abhiraj Bhal, Varun Khaitan, and Raghav Chandra, where they told us about the motivation to start this business and much more about UrbanClap.
Q1.Tell us a little about UrbanClap and your personal motivation for starting this business.
As cliched as it may sound, like most entrepreneurs we founded UrbanClap out of a desire to work for ourselves and live our own dream rather than just living somebody else’s. If you look deeper into the roots of UrbanClap, you will discover that we didn’t want to start a company for the sake of it. Our challenge was to make something useful; to solve a problem bigger than ourselves. This challenge was something that helped us take the plunge into organizing the services market place which eventually leads to the conceptualization of UrbanClap.
Q2.Can you give us a rundown of how does it work ?
We have two models for requests and their execution –
1. Booking – These are requests that are placed by customers where the prices are defined and they have to simply book the service. The services available under this model are plumbers, electricians, carpenters, a salon at home, cleaning (home & car), laundry, etc. Once the customer places his request the task is sent out to the providers in the vicinity of the customer and whoever is available at the time, accepts the request and delivers the service. A call is made by the service provider to the customer to confirm the time. An automated message/app notification is sent to the customer an hour after the prescribed time of the service soliciting the feedback of their experience.
2. Non-booking – The model followed here is a reverse-auction type. Customers place requests and based on the matchmaking algorithm that we have so carefully built, the request gets sent out to providers who are within the location of the customer and match the budget. The provider based on his availability responds to the customer with a personalized message and a quotation. The customer can receive up to 5 such responses. Categories that fall within the non-booking model are yoga at home, interior designers, nutritionists, wedding photographers to name a few. Our app has an inbuilt chat feature that allows customers to chat with providers and also with our Customer Experience team at UrbanClap should the customer require any assistance in hiring. We want to keep the experience as less intrusive as possible but we want to be able to help our customers whenever they need any.
Q3.Who are your key stakeholders and how are you offering them value?
Customers are our first key stakeholders. We aim to understand their pain points when it comes to hiring professionals and help them find the right ones to complete their jobs minus the innumerable hassles. The biggest value offering is that the whole process is just so convenient. We have also introduced a chat option that allows customers to chat with service providers rather than call. This makes the experience absolutely non-intrusive.
Our providers are of intrinsic importance to our business and the value we offer them is unparalleled in today’s market. We only send them relevant leads which match their service charges and only cover the locations that they choose to serve. In this process, the quality and not just the quantity of the leads they receive improves, in turn helping them to convert better and do better business.
Employees are of utmost importance to any business and with the right team, no problem is ever too great. We give our employees an opportunity to own their growth and we try our level best to cultivate a culture at UrbanClap where our employees choose not to sit on the sidelines. In simple words, UrbanClap is what it is because of its employees.
Q4.What is UrbanClap ’s biggest achievement to date? How did you go about accomplishing this?
UrbanClap has two major achievements that we wish to highlight. The first being the team that has been built. We have created a team of very passionate and gung ho people. People who believe in the purpose and are going to leave no stone unturned to make the business succeed. We have a very diverse mix of engineers, consultants, bankers, hoteliers, and start-up junkies that just adds a lot more vibrancy to a team. We also have a strong referral program wherein we encourage our existing employees to refer their friends to join. We believe that A grade people bring A-grade, people.
The second significant achievement that we have made is that we have generated business of more than 60 crores in the last year. A significant number of our providers have seen a significant increase in the amount of work they receive. We are a platform that allows emerging artists such as photographers and make-up artists to get recognized and hired. Beauticians working at salons who earned Rs.15,000 a month now earn up to Rs.45,000 through the leads we send them. We’re eliminating the middlemen here and that’s big.
Q5.What has been your biggest set back? How did you deal with it?
Every unhappy customer is a setback for us. As a company that understands the value of a customer, we leave no stone unturned to ensure that customers receive a great experience and if they haven’t we go out our way to make it up to them.
Q6.Could you shed some light on the technology and tools used to build UrbanClap?
At the heart of UrbanClap’s technology is a sophisticated match-making engine, which is able to identify, based on location, pricing, specialization, availability, and past reviews, the best-suited professionals who would be the right fit for the customers. The professionals then receive the customer request on their app, and only after reviewing it, and choosing to respond with a customized quote, are their quotes and profiles shared back with the customer. This way, the customer gets both extremely trusted, but also extremely qualified and relevant responses – from professionals who are available, in their budget, but also interested to serve their request.
Q7.What is one particular Marketing Tool which you swear by in your business that has never failed you?
The best form of marketing is word of mouth. We believe in delivering a superlative customer experience – essentially creating a remark-worthy experience for our customers, so that they not only repeat but also ‘remark’ about us to their friends and family.
Q8. There are a lot of different business verticals you have on UrbanClap. Which is one particular industry or service type that gets most traction on UrbanClap ?
Our number one business verticals at the moment include the likes of Yoga and Salon at-home services.
Q9. Any advice for startups trying to make it big or join the On-Demand space?
Research well and find out what the market is missing and be committed to your idea. It’s going to be a long journey but enjoy it with all its ups and downs. One should not think of an idea and immediately start looking for funding before they even attempt to execute. Often within the first couple of weeks, you’d know whether the idea is a hit or miss.
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