D.C.-based Seva Search has raised $1.3 million in Series A funding for its first product, Seva Call, a search engine that lets consumers connect with local businesses in near real-time via the phone. On the Seva Call site (and soon, mobile app), you’ll be able to search for local businesses like plumbers, contractors, computer repair techs, taxi cabs or any other type of business relying on incoming phone calls for new work.
To use the service, you’ll enter in the dates and times that are convenient to you, plus your name, phone number and a description of the service you need. Then, the businesses call you.
Investors in the Series A round include Fortify.vc, Ed Mathias, Tim Sykes, Jay Virdy, David Eisner, Andrew Bachman, Jigar Shah, Krishna Subramanian, Vishal Gurbaxani, Arjun Dev Arora, Saket Saurabh, plus angels Paul Silber, David Krauskopf, John Lapides, Roger Richter, Glen Hellman and John Cammack. Badder Alghanim, James and David Dingman, Alex Edmans and John Villa were listed by the company as “supporters.”
Seva Search was founded by Gurpreet Singh (CEO), Manpreet Singh (COO) and Amandeep Bakshi (Head of Products). Gurpreet Singh is a veteran entrepreneur, who previously served as Managing Partner in the I.T. consulting firm Geeks On-Site.
Initially, the company found that trying to get businesses to sign up to participate in the service was difficult – they didn’t want to be pitched another place to advertise. So instead, the company’s founders just started sending them calls. Then, the businesses came to them instead, wanting to know more. Of those businesses that have a relationship with Seva Search, 1 in 4 companies will answer an incoming phone call. Of those that don’t, only 1 in 8 do.
But the idea is not to call each business one by one – it’s to call all of them at once. Whomever answers first and who meets the consumer’s needs for the date and time (and, in the future, price), will be the business that ends up connecting with the customer. To ring the customer back, it’s just a matter of pushing a button. Meanwhile, the customer’s personal data (name, phone number, etc.) remains out of the businesses’ hands until they choose to give it to them.
In time, by tracking calls, appointment bookings and other data, Seva Search’s algorithm will get smarter, learning which businesses to call first and when. It will also begin to follow up with customers about the work they had done, and ask them to rate it.
Businesses are able to get the incoming requests via text and email, too, but need to dial Seva’s 1-800 number to reach the customers.
Seva Call has been in private beta testing, but will be rolling out to the D.C. Metro area in a month, and nationwide by the beginning of 2012.