While rushing to their workplaces on a weekday morning, working couple Mazedur and Hira Rahman found that their refrigerator was not working. The switchboard it was plugged into blew a fuse. They were not fortunate enough to find an electrician for the day.
Mazed booked an electrician for a check-up next day. The electrician replaced the switchboard and also found the refrigerator's compressor dysfunctional. He charged Tk400 – one-third of the amount as his service charge and the rest as the price of the new switchboard.
The couple had to wait for five more days to finally get their refrigerator repaired.
Getting home appliance services at the shortest time is a common and recurrent problem for working couples in Dhaka. And this is what the online-based maintenance service platform like HandyMama intends to fix.
The company maintains a network of people skilled in home maintenance services.
Be it plumbing, fixing electronic gadgets, repairing television, air-cooler, microwave oven or gas burner – the platform organisers immediately connect their clients in need of professional services with service providers.
At the tap of a button through their mobile app, website or call centre, clients can avail helping hands both at home and office.
Shah Paran, Chief Executive Officer of HandyMama thought of an idea – an online platform for service people, in March, 2014. One day he was looking for an electrician for electric wiring, installing new ceiling fans and setting up a generator in the basement of his office building. The same day, there was also a need for a plumber and a cleaner to clean the office.
"Individually arranging handymen for all those services took my time, money and energy. As an online professional, suddenly I felt the need for an online platform of service people. Then I started browsing information of some foreign companies whose business model matched my thought," Paran recalls.
The following six months, he spent nights after nights studying the online market to mature his idea, sketched up a plan, and finally launched his start-up in 2015. Since then, the company has served at more than fifty thousand households and five hundred offices in Dhaka city.
"With a few clicks, you can sign up for a service such as home deep cleaning, AC installation or electronics repairing. Then a customer care agent will confirm your order, schedule & requirement details. After that, the HandyMama fulfilment will arrange the services accordingly," says Paran.
As a start-up company, Handymama was launched in 2015 with $15,000 seed funding from Fenox Venture Capital, a Silicon Valley-based firm. Following that, HandyMama has raised more than a million dollars in several investment rounds from both local and foreign investors and venture capital firms; the latest of which has happened just this year at a multi-million-dollar valuation.
Besides aggregating quick services to its clients, the platform of HandyMama aims to create a steady flow of jobs and fast payment for the service people registered in the platform – whom the company terms as "Taskers".
The online service model works for service providers too, says Mohammad Mishu, a painter with HandyMama. Engagement with such online market allows him to fill in gaps in his schedule with more jobs.
"I can hardly manage a holiday. However, this is relieving that I do not have to make a fuss about the pricing," he says.
After accepting a task via HandyMama Tasker App, Mishu visits the site, estimates the costs and reports in the App or HandyMama fulfilment officials. Then a service fulfilment manager calculates the total cost and relays to the respective client for approval. As soon as the deal is sealed with customer approval, Mishu is notified on his Tasker App. After that he with his assistants proceed to complete the task within the shortest possible time. HandyMama billing agents then collect the pre-negotiated service charge and additional costs. HandyMama takes a small cut and the rest goes to the painters and suppliers.
Paran told The Business Standard that the company is expecting market expansion into the country's commercial cities where full package of home maintenance services can be sold.
HandyMama platform mainly focuses on catering households and on-demand customers. The most popular services for households booked from the platform include home cleaning, sofa cleaning, home appliances repairing, painting, and packing and shifting. It also has many of the services designed for commercial office maintenance.
The growing online market is competitive. Hence, companies are standardising their service prices and quality. "HandyMama has a very unique approach to standardising service experience and service pricing," adds Rezaur Rahman Robin, chief strategy officer of HandyMama.
Robin elaborates their strategy, "Rather than just connecting customers with service providers, or plaguing users with decision fatigue to choose from a list of service providers; HandyMama caters a better service experience for users by imposing a better control over service pricing, security, fulfilment and quality. As the prices are already fixed in the platform and HandyMama automatically connects users with the best matched taskers from near proximity, the customers do not have to deal with niggling concerns of service charge or tasker response time."
As per the company, the core challenges lie in standardising service design and training service providers. Robin confirms that the majority of the effort, money, and time is invested into training the taskers and designing convenient service packages for users.
Paran explains, "If you enquire about service prices, you will get different answers from different service providers. Hence, we are standardising the prices based on the market average."
"Currently we have made the prices competitive and almost 10 to 20 per cent cheaper than the market just to avoid price shock to the customers."
With its newfound investment and vigour to standardise the maintenance service industry in Bangladesh, HandyMama is currently focusing more intently on fewer service verticals, namingly – cleaning, home appliance repair, pack & shift, and painting.
In last two quarters of this year, the platform has designed and launched a few service packages from these verticals and received rave responses from the users. To go by the numbers, in the last two quarters combined, the platform has catered cleaning services to more users than it did last fiscal year altogether. The company stresses on focusing on this particular vertical and aspires to become the number one digital platform for on-demand cleaning services.