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HandyMama Plots Big Growth Push: Q & A With Shah Paran, CEO, HandyMama

Jan 22, 2017

In today’s world, on-demand is the way of life. On-demand ride-hailing, on-demand grocery, on-demand services to on-demand travel assistance and the list goes on. HandyMama, the company that connects households and offices with service providers via the web and mobile platform to outsource their everyday household tasks and the tasks that need help with tools and skills, is one of the earliest on-demand service platforms in Bangladesh.

Launched in 2015, HandyMama came out of the first batch of Founder Institute, Dhaka Chapter, and received a small seed funding from Fenox Venture Capital. Over the past years, the company has struggled and also grown significantly and raised a Pre-series A round later in 2016.

On-demand service space is getting interesting in Bangladesh with the entry of new player like Sheba. The market for household and office services such as cleaning, plumbing, and others is quite big and the number of serious companies in the space is growing slowly.

Recently we sat down with Shah Paran, CEO of HandyMama to know more about their progress, how much the company has evolved over the past years and how HandyMama is planning growth going forward.

Future Startup

How much has HandyMama evolved over the past years? What are the major differences between HandyMama in 2015 and HandyMama now?

Shah Paran

Interesting question. A couple of major differences are: we have grown manifold as a team. Our team is way bigger than what we were a year ago (we are a team of 15 including 4 new people who are joining us from February). Our weekly growth was insignificant when we spoke last time but for the last 4-5 months, we have been growing at a rate of 120%+ a month. Our monthly revenue has also been growing consistently and now at several hundred thousand per month.

We have a solid team now. We have hired experienced people who have added power to the team, from the next month we will be having a person from Lamudi who used to look after their business development. Our growth is consistent and fast. And all of these happened without any heavy investment in marketing.

Since we have just raised an investment, we plan to push our growth further, expand our service coverage, have more experienced people in the team and build our capacities in areas where we need improvements.

HandyMama Screenshot 22-1-17

Future Startup

What are the key metrics you look at when you are talking about growth?

Shah Paran

Quite straightforward. We look at a couple of metrics when it comes to growth: revenue, the number of services we provide each month and number of queries we receive and conversion compared to queries. These are the metrics we look at seriously.

Future Startup

How do you work with people who use your platform as the service providers?

Shah Paran

We have three categories of people: our executive team, which, as I said, is consist of 15 people. We have around 30 workers who we employ full time in different offices.

Then we have 800+ freelancers on our platform. Among 800, we provide regular work to 200-250 freelancers.

Future Startup

What do you mean by regular, on a daily basis or on average every month get some work? How much these people earn a month?

Shah Paran

On an average. For instance, we have 20 freelancers in Gulshan area, they do all the work we get from that area. We have people like this from different areas.

The minimum value of our work is around BDT 6000 and if a person does 4-5 jobs a month, he/she can easily earn over 20k after our commission.

Future Startup

How does your pricing work?

Shah Paran

It depends on several things. We do have a base price for almost all services but then and again, final pricing is done after some inspection because it is hard to have a uniform pricing for all types of cleaning or services.

For instance, there are big home or office and heavy cleaning and there are small home/office and light cleaning and you can’t have a uniform price for both.

So, we do have a base price for every service that covers a certain portion of a job and then we offer you final pricing after inspection.

HandyMama Screenshot 22-1-17-02
HandyMama Screenshot 22-1-17-02

Future Startup

You get a commission on services sold on your platform.

Shah Paran

Yes, that is largely our revenue model so far. This also varies based on the service. We charge only 5% commission on some services and for other, we charge say 25%, that’s our highest.

Future Startup

How do you reach out to your customers? What are the mediums, channels, and strategies you are using to reach out to your customers?

Shah Paran

Word of mouth and recommendation from our existing customers. Our customers often recommend us to new customers. This has been one of our strongest growth engines.

We do also receive leads from Google and social media platforms. But those also have been largely organic.

Future Startup

What are the major challenges for you now?

Shah Paran

Building our capacity to handle challenging services, ensuring timely and best possible service quality for our users are the major challenges for us.

We are working hard to build our capacity so that we can ensure timely service, within 30 mins to one hour time, and also making sure that our services meet the highest quality standard.

Service is a difficult business. You get to be very careful in order to ensure best possible quality.

Future Startup

How do you work as a team? How do you maintain process and system and collaborate as a team?

Shah Paran

We are an open culture organization and largely maintain a flat organizational structure. We have four separate teams within the company: business development, operations, customer success, and finance team.

Our teams work closely with each other. For instance, the business team brings in leads and stuff which would be difficult to deliver without proper collaboration with the operations team and customer success team.

As a CEO, I directly collaborate with the leaders of each team and also visit our clients personally.

We also collaborate closely with our board and advisers. When it comes to making important decisions, we first come to a consensus as a team and then take it to our advisers before making the final decision. For instance, we recently hired a business development manager. I first did an interview and then scheduled another interview with our adviser-business development, when he gave green signal, we confirmed the hiring.

Future Startup

How do you think about competition?

Shah Paran

The market is quite big and I think there is room for more than one player in the space.

I would rather emphasize that if other players in the market or upcoming companies also work in the market development, it will ultimately benefit everyone. People will become more aware of the on-demand service facility and we will get more leads. In fact, it helps users to compare between services as well.

A very small number of people are using on-demand services at this moment, there is a huge task left to develop the market. So, I think we are far from thinking about competition yet.

As I said earlier, the market is relatively big. Only cleaning is tens of thousands of crore market in Dhaka. We are not worried nor thinking about competition yet. Rather we plan to invest more in delivering better service and building our capacity.

Interview by Ruhul Kader, Nezam Uddin contributed to this interview.

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