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Riding the at-home service wave

Riding the at-home service wave

UrbanClap’s Abhiraj Bhal spills the beans on the growth of on-demand market services and it pitfalls.

UrbanClap is an online marketplace, which helps customers hire local and home services at the push of a button. Abhiraj Bhal leads the company as its Co-founder and CEO.

Prior to UrbanClap, Abhiraj was a consultant with The Boston Consulting Group, advising Fortune 500 companies across India, Germany and South East Asia. He holds a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from IIT Kanpur, and an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. Abhiraj is a part of various government committees, including the Domestic Workers Sector Skill Council, and the Champions of Change program. As UrbanClap’s CEO, he also works closely with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the Ministry of Skill Development and NSDC.

In an exclusive conversation with Beauty Launchpad’s Isha Gakhar, Abhiraj talks about the building of UrbanClap and the curve ahead.

How has your journey been? What goes into aggregating all kind of services online?

UrbanClap was started 3.5 years back with the vision to organise the local services market in India. The idea was to create a large tech business which solves a primary customer need. The local services industry is very fragmented and unorganized. When we started UrbanClap, hiring a plumber, beautician, yoga trainer, math tutor etc. was a painful process. There were no standards, no concept of trust, pricing inefficiencies, and the industry was shackled in the ‘yellow pages’ era. We saw this as a large opportunity. By leveraging technology, and a set of simple yet powerful processes, we have been able to build a fairly disruptive platform which is now the default way to hire these services in India.

What are the pitfalls?

Some of the major challenges in a hyperlocal market are optimum resource utilisation and matching locations, price points, and other specific requirements to the customers’ needs. We are leveraging technology to the maximum to solve these challenges — our matchmaking algorithm operates such that it matches customers’ needs with professionals who can deliver these. Once a customer places a request on the platform, this request is sent to a few professionals who then respond, stating their willingness and ability to deliver these requirements.

What all goes into training the UrbanClap professionals? What’s the investment involved in training the staff?

All our professionals go through rigorous training and a 2-step security check before they are on boarded onto the platform. We have certified trainers who conduct these sessions and professionals are checked on various levels to ensure the highest quality of service is delivered. For all our professionals, we have the app training to begin with, wherein they are taught on how to review and accept leads that they receive and further communication with customers once a job has been assigned. Our salon professionals are shortlisted via a thorough training right from the type of products being used, application and correct methods of usage for the services we offer such as waxing, facials, manicures, pedicures, etc. For our other technical professionals ( carpenters, plumbers electricians), there is everything involved right from the tools to always have, the correct usage of these and the methods involved in repairing and building.

How do you maintain the standards especially hygiene for salon and beauty services?

Quality of products and hygiene is of utmost importance to us. To regulate the same, we, on a monthly basis, procure products directly from the brands which are then further distributed amongst the beauticians. Weekly surprise audits are also conducted to ensure that the beauticians are well stocked.

If you could share the data analysis on the customers?

To our surprise, the number of downloads is almost equal. Salon at home being one of biggest feeders, we expected to see a larger percentage of women user’s however, services like car cleaning, home cleaning etc bring in a good number of men user’s, too. Salon at home remains to be our highest moving category. However, our focus audience has always been working moms, stay at home moms and an app like this eases the pain of going to a salon to avail your monthly services.

What are the company’s expansion plans down the line?

We are currently serving in Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Pune. We have recently started our overseas expansion by launching our services in Dubai. Within India, we are looking to expand into Jaipur and Chandigarh.