At the beginning of this year, we have identified on-demand service as one of the 12 tech-trends that we believe has huge potential to go big in 2018 in Bangladesh. This is not a hypothetical assumption, there are enough signals and socio-economic dynamics that support this understanding.
Take, for instance, our urban life is becoming increasingly hectic. Time has already become a scarce resource for most of us.
We are seeing a rapid change in family dynamics across the board. An increasing number of women are working today. The number of nuclear families is on the rise making it difficult for families where both husband and wife work full time to manage household chores like cooking and cleaning among other things. Most importantly, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find household helps, which was not the case only a few years ago.
All these changes are contributing to a growing on-demand service culture. This is where HandyMama and other similar services come in. Using the power of technology, HandyMama enables smooth service delivery making the life of the customers easier and enabling individual service professionals to earn money.
The potential for an on-demand service platform done right is almost infinite. HandyMama, if done right, can become the digital service infrastructure of Bangladesh that enables citizens to avail services more efficiently and with more assurance of quality.
The service distribution system is an interesting one, to say the least. There are service providers in every locality. In my area in Mohammadpur, there are probably several hundred electricians, beauticians, cleaners live here and if you tap them for providing service in Mohammadpur area, it should improve your service delivery time as well as quality.
The work is simple. You simply convert existing service consumption and delivery infrastructure which is inefficient because of its offline nature into digital one. HandyMama aims to do exactly that.
Being an aggregator, it can control both the demand as well as supplies, an incredible leverage that it can easily use to its own advantage, both ways. It can build the layer to enable service discovery as well as consumption.
Launched in 2015, HandyMama has matured significantly over the past couple of years. Past several years were particularly difficult for HandyMama and other similar businesses because the market was not ready yet. But since last year, things have started to change and today the company enjoys a rapid growth.
In the past few months, HandyMama has introduced a host of changes, some are small changes such as it has launched a new logo and others are more profound such as it has started to focus on a few services in a specific vertical, which I believe is the right way to go in this market because serving everything causes inefficiency and disrupts focus thus execution.
To that end, I find HandyMama’s recent changes rather interesting and HandyMama to be one of the most interesting tech companies in Dhaka. So, I emailed HandyMama’s CEO Shah Paran with a list of questions and here is the result of our email conversation, what follows is a lightly edited transcript. I hope you enjoy.
Question: I recently came across your new promotional campaign and it seemed to me that you are predominantly focusing on cleaning and related verticals. Are you considering a strategic shift towards going vertical, focusing on one or a few related services for a time being, or this is just a general marketing change?
Answer: Not exactly vertical but yes we have been focusing on some niche services from last year where we are very strong.
From our data, now we know what are our popular services, what are the most in-demand services, what services give easy conversion, what services we can deliver faster and better and on-demand and most importantly, what services make sense for us revenue-wise, we are focusing on those areas. This is, of course, a strategic decision which we could not make a year ago because we did not have the data. Now that we have data we can see how we can genuinely serve our customers thus help our business and we are doing exactly that.
We want to focus on that 3-4 services at a time and be the very best at those. In terms of quality, supply, response time, customer experience and price, we want to be the synonym of those services. Then, we will work on the next chunk of services.
Q: How is your growth now? How many clients do you serve on a monthly basis?
Last year, we have received over 15000 bookings and over 1500 businesses took services from HandyMama.
Our last quarter's MoM growth rate was around 30% which was very much organic. But from January 2018, we are seeing a big spike which is roughly 147%! We want to retain our first month's growth as much as we can throughout the coming quarters.
Q: What is your model when it comes to working with service providers? Do you work directly with service professionals or vendors meaning small service shops, for instance, you work with the owner of a barbershop or individual barbers?
Yes, from the beginning, we have been building an on-demand services platform that gives priority to the independent service professionals (freelance contractors/ individual taskers) rather than vendors (generally a group of people, led by an independent owner).
For some specific services, we do have vendors but they are very much hand-picked.
Our goal is to empower individual service professionals (rather than any middle-man or intermediary marketplace) with more jobs, safety and security and of course bringing them to a standardized platform.
It is important note here that while the point can be discussed whether the platform is the new middleman or not; my opinion is the platform work as the new Enabler or Value-controller which exerts a particular control over Quality and Pricing standard, and Transaction security (comprehensively possible via Tech) all the while effectively bridging the Supply-Demand Gap.
Q: What are a few strategic priorities for 2018?
My personal observation is that we are two years earlier in an industry which is very conventional and old-fashioned in nature. I believe that 2018 would be the year to start receiving substantial and growing responses that we have been expecting from the market that has happened with ride-sharing services in 2017.
So our strategic priorities for 2018 would be working on developing our supply side to cater growing demand more efficiently and effectively, making our product seamless, contemporary for our users (both customers and taskers) and scalable. We are also working on some very important things that will give our brand a huge boost regarding users’ trust and loyalty.
2. Part of the introduction is reproduced from this story here with certain changes.
3. Part of the introduction is reproduced from this story here with certain changes.
4. Cover photo courtesy here.