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LocalUstaad – Tracing the journey of Uber for local services in India

We live in exciting times as technology built on top of Internet continues to change the world forever.

Who would have imagined a few decades ago that everything in this world would be at our fingertips as it is today. Be it news, education, commerce or vast array of products and services in other sectors, virtually everything in the world is at our fingertips, literally.

As I wrote in one of the previous articles, technology is changing every facet of our life. Everything from shopping, socializing, educating etc., is being shaped by technology. Without a doubt and for the most part, companies such as Amazon, AirBnB, Uber have catalyzed this change. The latter two especially helped boost a new economy – the sharing economy, to let individuals share or find shareable services on-demand easily and at a scale.

There is now a “AirBnB for X” or “Uber for X” in every category and we’re bound to see more of these hyperlocal startups in India mushrooming. But the good news is that all of this is largely benefiting the modern day busy-bees.

localustaad.comLocalUstaad.com is one such startup which promises to help you find and hire a painter, plumber, dhobis (laundry services), home & cars cleaners, scrap collectors, maid, driver, mechanic, you name it – all with just a few clicks (edit: struck off as the founder corrected that those services will be available in next version of the product).

They essentially want to be a Uber for handyman services and to help find and hire experts or ustaads as they call them, to run your errands. That in itself might not be special but what makes this post an interesting read is its founders, their entrepreneurial path, challenges etc.

I derive inspiration from the journeys of other startups, I try to learn and build upon their experiences, learn how they ideate, the factors that gave them the confidence to take the initial plunge, how they overcame various obstacles to reach this point. If that is what you’re looking for as well then follow startups.

Here’s Local Ustaad’s own ustaad, Yash Sheth tracing his startup journey. Let’s follow.

[hero heading=”Yash Sheth, Local Ustaad” tagline=””]To validate our startup idea, we stood outside the vegetable market and asked women for their opinion – @yashsheth[/hero]

The Big Idea

LocalUstaad aims to take localization to a whole new level by marrying mapping technology with household services. Just like you use your phone to look for the next available cab that is closest to you, soon, you will be able to book the closest plumber or mechanic using LocalUstaad’s network of technicians mapped around your area, and pay online for their services.

How it all started?

During my engineering days, we as classmates used to always discuss about the real time problems faced in everyday lives. We then always try and find the solution. I enjoy finding solutions for real time problems. After my graduation, I started working for Wipro but somehow I did not enjoy the corporate atmosphere, and I left my job in a year.

As I wondered what to do next in life, I encountered many problems while getting my house renovated in October 2013. This triggered a thought and made me get into HANDYMAN service industry to try and organize this highly unorganized sector.

Local Ustaad Team
(L-R) Ankit M Jain, Yash L Sheth, Santosh A Jani

The Ustaads

We have a very strong team working 24*7 on the idea. Our team has
[lists style=”star” color=”#dd3333″]

  • Ankit Jain – Founder, COO
  • Rahul P – Our CTO who is a M.C.A
  • Santosh Jani – Our Marketing, Business Development Manager with a PG from U.K
  • Yash Sheth- Founder, CEO
[/lists]

Both founders have a B.E in IT from Mumbai University.

From Idea to Market

Validation

We initially operated as GharCare. The day I discussed the business idea with my partner back in November 2013, we made a survey form the same day and sent it out to our friends, families and closed ones. We received a good response to the idea of finding all repair solution under one roof.

Later, one of my close friends suggested that we should survey people outside of our close circle as they are the ones likely to give more honest feedback. But then, it was very difficult approaching random people. But we went ahead and did it anyway. We used to go to malls and stop people to ask questions, we stood outside the vegetable market and asked women for their opinion, and did many such things which is how we validated our initial idea.

Initial Customers & Pivot

Our initial customers were the friends and family who encouraged us by giving initial jobs. Then we started approaching society managers and secretaries, and used to pitch our services to them. Some liked the idea while few ignored and the rest didn’t even listen to what we had to say. Though we did a good amount of business, we soon realized that our business model was not scalable without a very huge investment. So we decided to change our business model and came up with the idea of going HYPERLOCAL and help or customers to get the work done by discovering and hiring the nearest available technicians. We would then charge the vendors a business fee.

We made the app in around 3 months and tested with our GharCare customers and vendors. The response was awesome. Both the customer and the vendor were happy with the use of technology.

The Name

It is a play on our new Hyperlocal business model and ustaad which in Hindi means Expert.

Growth trend

With the increasing awareness of Hyperlocal services, the response has been growing. The market for hyper-local services in a market like India is huge. We believe technology will disrupt every sector in India.

Measuring startup growth

We measure our growth with the repetitiveness of our customer. How many times a customer has used our service or in other words what is our retention rate of the customer as well as the vendors. It’s been satisfactory so far and and we continue to make it better everyday.

Vision & Growth plans

We want to organize the blue collared sector in India, and give them the respect which they deserve. We are planning to launch our services in Tier-2 cities by the end of this financial year.

On Funding

We are self funded as of now. While we tried to raise money in the past we soon realized that nobody will put their money in a startup or its founders who themselves don’t take the initial risks. Investors need to see the passion in your startup/idea, team capabilities, persistence etc. In a nutshell, I suggest raising investment after achieving certain milestones by taking the initial risk.

Talent & Hiring in startups

Hiring is the most difficult part while starting up. The reality is that a startup by definition has very few resources to offer and not much to show during the initial days. The only thing founders can show is their vision, and so it is very critical to have like minded people come on-board and work relentlessly with little or no pay. The passion and the hope of making it big is what should keep the spirit alive.

Seeking

We’re always looking for more like minded people to join our team and help in expansion. We are also looking for capital to run the company.

An ideal startup ecosystem

The Startup Eco-system is still developing in India and there are many non profit organizations coming up and promising to help startups. An ideal startup hub is that one that can help with business connections, personality development and a support system to help think positively and upkeep the passion and motivation to carry on and make it big.

Advice for startups

The only advice I can give at this point is to just follow your heart and do what you love and continue doing it. It will all align and one day all your hard work would pay off.

Let your local ustaads work for you.

[Edited for clarity]

(If you are an amazing startup founder or enabler of startup eco-system in India or elsewhere and would like to be interviewed or featured on Startups.in then please read this and this before you reach out)
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Naag

Bootstrapper at Startups
Being away from India for several years, I'm always excited about anything Indian. I'm particularly crazy (read passionate) about start-ups in India and administer the portal for Indian Startups which started off as a platform to write about startups around the world and India in particular. Do startups interest you? Then join startups. Let's build startups in India together. If you need to talk to me in real-time, I'll be available on IRC channel #startuphub. Click to connect.

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