Based in Delhi, UrbanClap wants to make finding good service providers as easy as, well, clapping your hands.
With more than 1,000 service providers currently listed, including individuals and companies, UrbanClap claims to be the largest mobile-based services marketplace in India. The startup, however, aspires to be more than just a listings platform.
Co-founder Varun Khaitan says that UrbanClap’s proprietary matchmaking engine sets up potential customers with the best service providers in their area, saving them from the tedium of going through hundreds of listings or having to rely on word-of-mouth referrals.
The startup recently got a vote of confidence from SAIF Partners, Accel Partners, and Snapdeal founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, who participated in a $1.6 million seed round last week. UrbanClap will use the capital to expand beyond Delhi to more than 10 new cities, including Bangalore, Mumbai, and Hyderabad, by the end of this year; improve its technology; and hire more people.
UrbanClap was founded in October 2014 by Khaitan, Abhiraj Bhal, and Raghav Chandra. All lived in the U.S. for several years: Khaitan was an engineer at Qualcomm before becoming a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, where Bhal also worked, while Chandra was an engineer at Twitter.
After returning to India, the three wanted to launch a startup that would “solve a really big consumer problem in India by leveraging mobile technology,” says Khaitan. They honed in on local services.
“It has seen little to no innovation in the last decade and it is something that needs a solution,” says Khaitan. “Thinking back on our own experiences, whether it was when I was a teenager looking to find a guitar teacher, at school and looking for a moving and packing service, or for my sister’s wedding when we needed a photographer, there were multiple examples where finding the right professional service was acutely painful.”
Startups that help consumers find the right products, restaurants, or make travel plans on rely on technology to build discovery engines that will deliver good recommendations to user’s phones, and UrbanClap’s founders wanted to take a similar tact with their company.
Competitors include startups like LocalOye, which also received funding recently and relies on data to drive its recommendation engine, as well as search engines such as Justdial.
Khaitan says UrbanClap’s matchmaking engine is its key differentiator because customers receive responses in less than three hours, while service providers enjoy the benefit of more business and higher conversion rates because they only get relevant leads.
To use UrbanClap, a customer first selects a category and then answers several questions on its Android app or website. Then the platform’s recommendation engine uses that information and location-based data to match him or her with service providers.
For example, if someone wants to study guitar, the questions include what genre of music they are interested in, budget, schedule, and skill level. Then the request is matched to a handful of teachers, who respond in-app if they are interested with price quotes.
Professionals have to apply to be listed and are rated on a five-star scale by customers, which helps maintain quality. UrbanClap uses the same process and technology to deliver results for categories ranging from salon services to home cleaning, and the company says it will be able to scale up to more categories in the future.
UrbanClap currently processes about 200 to 250 requests each day and hopes to increase that number tenfold during the next quarter.
“It’s almost like how Amazon is able to sell all its products, we can offer all the same services on a common platform. It’s understanding the key pain points,” says Khaitan.