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Building An On-demand Maid Service Startup In Dhaka With Mahmudul Hasan Likhon, Co-founder and CEO, Hello Task

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May 28, 2019
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Mahmudul Hasan Likhon is the co-founder and CEO of Hello Task, an on-demand maid services startup based in Dhaka that connects verified maids with customers through mobile and web. Founded in 2017, the company has grown to a team of 12 people and aims to become the Uber for maid services in Bangladesh.

We recently caught up with Mr. Mahmudul Hasan Likhon, co-founder and CEO of Hello Task, over an email, to discuss his path to entrepreneurship, how Hello Task came into existence, what his Hello Task, how Hello Task operates, the state of Hello Task’s business today and its ambition going forward, challenges of being a founder, lessons he has learned from his journey so far and much more.

Future Startup

Please tell us about your background and what you are working on now.

Mahmudul Hasan Likhon

I have completed my graduation in Agriculture from Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University. I’m almost done with my masters. I started RobotDako, which is now Hello Task, right after my graduation. We rebranded RobotDako to Hello Task a while ago.

Hellotask is an on-demand maid service provider where we connect verified and skilled maids with customers through app and website.

Future Startup

What motivated you to start Hello Task? When and how did you get started with Hello Task?

Mahmudul Hasan Likhon

When I was doing my masters and preparing to go to Canada for higher studies, my younger brother was an HSC Candidate. He is not a studious type. He never paid much attention to studies. He has always been passionate about entrepreneurship and business. In fact, he tried a few and failed. He was a freelance digital marketer and website designer.

After his HSC, he decided to start a delivery service business that would help customers have their daily needs get delivered at their home. Our parents didn’t want to give him money to do it but he was not taking no as an answer. He was stubborn. So I listened to his idea. The idea sounds cool and I decided to get involved. We worked together and build an on-demand delivery app like Uber where you could order anything and get it delivered to your place. That’s how we started RobotDako in September 2017. Users could order anything be it a bottle of Pepsi or medicine through our app and they would get the product delivered within 30 minutes. It was a cool idea and we were super excited but things didn’t go as expected. We were burning through the money of our father but there was not enough traction. Eventually, we decided to pivot to maid service in February 2018 and launched accordingly. The response was tremendous from day one. The business grew quickly. In August 2018, we rebranded to Hello Task as the name Robot was misleading and dehumanizing to our domestic workers.

Future Startup

What went into building the initial operation of Hellotask?

Mahmudul Hasan Likhon

When we were struggling with delivery service, we used to sit together and discuss how we could grow and acquire more users. One night we two brothers were having a similar discussion on how we could grow users and all that. In one meeting, I came up with the idea of on-demand main service. We did not run any market research per se, but we could understand that finding maid is a challenge for households in Dhaka as I could see in our house where our maids often didn’t show up in the morning putting us in trouble.

As an experiment, we first announced the service on our Facebook page saying that maid service is coming soon. The posted on went viral which sort of validated our assumption that there is a demand for this service.

We had no idea how to onboard maids. We used to stand in front of different garments factories day after day to hire house help providers. We used to go different slums and we did everything in between. The challenge initially was trust. They did not trust us. But eventually, we worked with one-two people and when they came to see that our platform is secure, they get respect and could earn better, they started to trust us. It changed it for us. Similarly, we had to deal with trust issues on the consumer side as well. We have managed to cover that to some extent as well. Today, when a customer takes our service, they take it repeatedly.

Mehedi Shoron, Founder & Chief Operating Officer at Hellotask Ltd
Mehedi Shoron, C0-founder & Chief Operating Officer at Hellotask Ltd

Future Startup

Could you please give us an overview of Hello Task in terms of services you offer, your business/revenue and users, team size, operations, etc?

Mahmudul Hasan Likhon

Hello Task is an Uber for maid service. Customers can hire a maid on demand. Using the platform, you can hire a maid as quickly as within an hour, or you can hire a maid for a specified day or subscribe for a whole month at a very reasonable price.

Our maids are mostly freelancers and they work on our platform for extra income. On our platform a maid can earn up to 18000 Taka just working 8 hours which is higher than what they usually could get from working in garments and other places.

When customers need a maid and request through our app, a skilled and verified maid is connected accordingly. Once a maid reaches the customer’s place, they go through a simple procedure of scanning the ID card and then start working. ID scanning is necessary to calculate the time of work and payment. It also helps to maintain security.
I and my brother have started the company. We are currently a team of 12 people and we have a pool of growing freelance domestic workers. Our ambition is to take over the traditional maid service industry with technology.

Future Startup

How have you attracted users and grown Hello Task? Could you tell us a bit about your process and activities that you carried out to achieve the growth?

Mahmudul Hasan Likhon

Finding reliable domestic help has become a challenge in Dhaka that has made it easier for us to grow organically. So far our majority growth came from word of mouth. We try to satisfy our customers so that this word of mouth keeps growing. Apart from that, we have promotional offers, referral bonus for users and we are offering a reasonable monthly package that a customer is accustomed to paying. Finding a skilled and verified maid at a reasonable price remains a key attraction to the customers. And maids get reviewed by the customers on the app which makes it all more easier for everyone and works as an incentive for everyone.

We ensure that maids earn extra on our platform. They get paid well, get bonuses on quests. It has helped us to attract maids who are joining our platform. Our goal is to get to 5000 maids service providers on our platform by 2020.

Future Startup

What’s your business model? How have you grown your revenue?

Mahmudul Hasan Likhon

We went through a series of experiment to find a business model that would allow us to scale the platform. We tried different models to connect maids with customers. Initially, it was a challenge because smartphone adoption is not that high in the group we were targeting as service providers. However, we could have solved that problem eventually.

When we started, our model was very different. We used to treat our maids as employees and used to pay them on a monthly basis regardless of how much they earn. The challenge with the model was that we could scale it easily. It was super difficult to scale that model. So we eventually changed that model to a more scalable model where maids work as freelancers on our platform. The revenue model is simple: we share revenue with them. This has solved our scalability problem. The more service providers join our platform, the more money we make.

Future Startup

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

Mahmudul Hasan Likhon

In the early days, we had been through two major challenges. One was increasing the number of maids with a scalable model and another one was earning the trust of both maids and customers. Many maids that we approached thought us a fraudulent company that is involved in fraud or wouldn’t pay them accordingly. We had to work hard to gain their trust. The scenario has changed over the past months. Now many of them are helping us find more service providers by bringing their family and friends and neighbors on our platform.

Future Startup

How does your sales and marketing work?

Mahmudul Hasan Likhon

Finding domestic help is a challenge in Dhaka which has helped us to find some organic growth lever early on. So far, we have grown pretty much organically.

That said, we use Facebook as a marketing channel. The demand has been quite steady and growing compared to which our supply has been a challenge. We are more into building our supply side first - growing the number of service providers and professions.

Future Startup

What are some lessons you’ve learned?

Mahmudul Hasan Likhon

We have learned a ton over the past few years. We made tons of mistakes and every mistake taught us something new and important. It took us over 8 months to find a sustainable and scalable business model. By the time we got there, we burnt through a lot. One lesson would be we should have identified challenges related to supply earlier and focus on supply than marketing. Since we could not build enough supply to being with, when we get started and spent a bit in marketing and as a result, a consistent number of requests for service started to come, we couldn’t deliver in time. Customers were not disappointed with our service but they were unhappy when we could fulfill their demand. We could not understand the demand in the market and as a result, failed to prepare accordingly.

The second mistake would be not choosing the right investors. We had to suffer a lot from this. Some of our initial investors were not tech investors and invested without understanding the dynamics of a tech business. We also made a mistake in the sense that we could not address that before closing the round. As a result, their expectation from the business was very different from ours. It created some very difficult challenges for us and hampered our operation and growth.

We finally realized that startups should focus on revenue first, not on investment. There is no better way to build a business than through generating revenue. If you could build a sustainable operation, that’s the best way of doing it.

Future Startup

What are your goals for the future?

Mahmudul Hasan Likhon

Our goal is to build a platform that would improve the lives of domestic workers and maids and at the same time take the trouble out of finding a maid in Dhaka. All the maids will be verified, skilled and professional. This is a segment of the market that remains very much traditional and there is not much work done there. Being the pioneer and first mover, we have the advantage to work with these women, gain trust and help them be self-reliant. Our ambition is to build the largest platform for domestic workers in Bangladesh.

Future Startup

Where can our readers go to learn more about Hello Task?

Mahmudul Hasan Likhon

Hellotask is a platform to hire maids and domestic help. To avail our service, you may install our app from android play store or Apple app store. For more information, you may go to our website or our facebook page.

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