Founded last June, ServisHero is based in Malaysia but already the service is available in Singapore and — as of today — Thailand too. This round, which is billed as a pre-Series A, also included participation from Cradle Seed Ventures, a funded affiliated with Malaysia’s government.
The premise behind ServisHero is connecting local service providers with customers, and giving customers choice from multiple merchants.
CEO Karl Loo came upon the idea when visiting his native Malaysia after stints working overseas. (Loo worked for Groupon in China, Korea’s Memebox and Africa Internet Accelerator among other projects.) He told TechCrunch in an interview that he was amazed that mobile apps could be used to hail cars and other services, yet fixing an air conditioning unit or finding a maid is based on offline advertisements — in Malaysia many of those are attached to trees.
So, after a friend suggested he should walk to a tree to find an engineer to fix his faulty air con, and go to more trees to get multiple quotes, Loo decided to create ServisHero. He rallied friends Jason Kang, a classmate at Oxford and ServisHero CFO, and Paul Copplestone, ServisHero CTO, and the startup was born in March 2015. The company raised undisclosed funding from telecom firm YTL, online sales site Lelong.my and an ex-Groupon COO, but this injection announced today will go towards expanding its regional footprint with another launch before the end of the year.
Loo told TechCrunch that the service has received over 50,000 downloads to date, and it has over 3,000 service providers on the platform. The most obvious services offered are home services — such as repairs or cleaning — but Loo said ServisHero also covers fitness (personal trainers), drivers, massage/beauty and even accounting and other services for SMEs. The goal, he said, is to provide access to all kinds of local services.
What’s particularly interesting about ServisHero — beyond a beautiful app created by Pinterest engineer Adam Burmister — is its monetization model. Service providers buy prepaid credits on the service that will allow them to bid for jobs. No credits means a merchant can’t bid and credits don’t guarantee a job will be won. That incentives them to keep costs competitive and, because ServisHero isn’t taking a cut, there’s no additional pricing layer added on.
For consumers, ServisHero recommends leaving each job each job request for 24 hours to check for bids, although Loo said that very often a number of service providers have responded to job postings within hours.
For Golden Gate Ventures, this deal marks another large check from its new $50 million fund, and another investment in a startup with ambitions to scale regionally in Southeast Asia, and perhaps beyond.