Picture this. You’re returning late in the night and your car suffers a breakdown. There is no help nearby. Or you want to throw a surprise party but don’t have the time as you have a deadline to meet. Fret not, for help can be summoned through the smartphone. A slew of online service providers are addressing these needs and much more. Known as personal assistant or concierge application services, these providers cater to mundane tasks like plumbing, carpenting, locating a tutor or not-so ordinary tasks like a wedding, having a cake delivered or a tow truck sent in the event of a midnight breakdown or arranging a surprise party for your colleague or spouse.
One of the first concierge app services in the country, Timesaverz, owes its inception to an in-flight chat between co-founders Debadatta Upadhyay and Lovnish Bhatia. Upadhayay was struggling to find a quality plumbing service and the two felt that in this age of instant connectivity, an online service to address that need could be a reality.
Starting from two locations in Mumbai, the start-up now has 50,000 active users in seven cities, 50 people on its payroll and partnerships with 3,000 service agents. Timesaverz started with household repair and now provides house-cleaning, beauty care, laundry, handyman and pest control services. Upadhayay charges the end-consumer a convenience fee, 80% of which is retained by the service agent. Services are priced at ₹200 to ₹6,000 and it handles about 1,000 service requests per day. About 25% of its revenue comes from AMC-based contracts. “We are not looking to expand into new geographies but focusing on category expansion by providing more services to consumers,” says Upadhyaya.
Another such personal assistant app is Goodservice, co-founded by Vipul Aggarwal and Ruchir Jain. The start-up is a one-stop shop that handles requests 24x7 and supplies plumbers, electricians, caterers, wedding planners etc. Its round-the-clock availability differentiates Goodservice and they are the one you are most likely to chat up in case your car breaks down or you need late-night groceries. With a 40-member strong team, its focus has been building a customer base in Delhi and NCR. “We are growing per transaction numbers rather than relying on burning capital to prop up the business,” says Jain.
The personal services and odd-jobs space is growing in India and that trend looks likely to continue due to lack of time and the need for a quick-fix. Most of the start-ups within the space are going after urban consumers and hence much of the action and addressable market is in the metros. Though they are priced slightly higher than your neighbourhood handyman, convenience and service quality is the selling proposition.